Guest Columnists

Missions Collection Helps Meet Dire Need

Father Antony Jean-Baptiste, a priest from Haiti, in Father Charles Keeney’s office making a request for help. (Photo: courtesy of Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Diocese of Brooklyn)

by Father Charles P. Keeney

Having served as director of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Mission Office for a year now, I see that the office is a microcosm of the universal church. Both have far-reaching arms that assist missionaries all over the world.

There is a variety of ways that this is accomplished. Every year the good and generous people of our parishes contribute to as many as 14 national and diocesan collections.

The different mission-based collections serve varying purposes. Donations made to the Pontifical Mission Societies (World Mission Sunday, the Summer Mission Appeals) are ultimately distributed by the Vatican after national directors all over the world meet to determine where the needs are most dire. Catholic Relief Services plays a different missionary role by assisting those in sudden or immediate need because of natural disasters or other emergencies.

This week, I would like to focus on the Diocesan Mission collection. This first missionary collection occurs at the beginning of the year. This time it will on Jan. 5.

Funds from this donation are given to arch/bishops of missionary arch/dioceses who visit Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to ask for help. These arch/bishops write a proposal outlining where and how they need help. Among the countries that were helped last year were Curacao, Haiti, India, Italy, Lebanon and Tanzania.

When an appointment is made, Bishop DiMarzio meets with them right here in Brooklyn. During the interview, Bishop DiMarzio remembers the scripture verse, “If … one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? (James 2:16)”

Many of these leaders deal with issues that are very foreign to us. Their people suffer from wars and persecution, earthquakes, floods and drought. They lack clean water and medicine, food and shelter, education and religious formation. They also live in poverty. They are in many ways the “least of our brothers and sisters.”

In 2019, the people of the Diocese of Brooklyn contributed over $175,000 to this collection.

The chancery receives thank you letters from these arch/dioceses, but they should really go to the people of our parishes who make these good things happen. You have helped build schools and churches, educate seminarians and catechists, provide clean water, medicine and shelter to our suffering brothers and sisters through the Diocesan Mission collection.

You do not just say to others, “keep warm and be fed,” you do something to help!

Each of Brooklyn and Queens’ 177 parishes will participate in the Diocesan Mission collection. Dozens of requested projects sit on the desk of the bishop awaiting a response. Last year’s money has been allocated. We hope we can help as many or more missionary arch/dioceses and their projects in the New Year.

The season of giving is not limited to the holidays, to our family and friends. People are hungry and in need year-round; let your generosity continue for the benefit of the missions who ask the Diocese of Brooklyn for help.

Father Keeney is the diocesan director for the Propagation of the Faith.

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