My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Today, we find ourselves at a transitional point in the history of the Church of Brooklyn and Queens. As we celebrate the great work of the many generations that preceded us, our parishes and Diocese must also look to the future with plans to strengthen our faith.
For more than 150 years, the Diocese of Brooklyn has embraced and celebrated our communities, and our families. Under the guidance of remarkable priests, generations of Catholics have been raised and lived in the many tight-knit neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, and come together as one family of faith at our vibrant parishes.
We are now more than 1.5 million Catholics, young and old, celebrating Mass in 33 different languages. Families of immigrants have transformed our Diocese, and while some have arrived more recently than others, we represent dozens of nationalities from all over the world. Our Diocese is a microcosm of the worldwide Church. We have been richly blessed.
With these blessings comes the responsibility to pass on to our future generations all that we have received. At this moment in the history of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens, it is critical that we work to strengthen our parishes, both physically and spiritually, so that our communities can worship together now and in the future. As Catholics, we also must consider our past promises and honor our most senior members who have tirelessly served our communities.
Our senior priests have given their lives out of love for us, and they must receive the care and support required in their most senior years. Furthermore, looking towards the future, we must continue to invest both time and resources in the next generation of Catholics – our youth.
With that in mind, we are embarking on a bold initiative entitled Generations of Faith. Together with the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, this effort will raise a minimum of $80 million; strengthening, inspiring, and transforming the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens. Generations of Faith is a campaign focused on ensuring the future viability of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens.
Continuing the unprecedented generosity of the 1996 Alive in Hope campaign, this effort will strengthen the heart of our Diocese, fulfill our promise to those who have faithfully served, and foster the formation of our faith in future generations of Catholics. I write to invite you to join me, and thousands of parishioners throughout our Diocese, in a campaign to invest in the future of our Catholic family in Brooklyn and Queens.
In order to continue our work for the larger mission of the Church, the heart of our Diocese must be strong. The largest portion of Generations of Faith will be directed towards individual parishes. Generations of Faith will provide a mechanism through which each parish can utilize new resources to help create and sustain vibrant parish life and also make capital repairs.
Generations of Faith will fulfill our promise to our past leaders, and honor those generations of dedicated priests who have faithfully served in our communities by providing for the modest needs and health care of our senior priests. Our priests baptized us, instruct us in the Scriptures, counsel us in time of sorrow and worry, and celebrate with us in times of joy. We receive so much from the generosity of our priests, and it is our time to assist them.
Finally, we also must remain dedicated to our central vision for the future, which is evangelization. Our responsibility for evangelization begins with our most valuable asset, our youth. We must preserve and strengthen their faith. The culture in which we live is almost resistant to the Christian message. Generations of Faith will invest funds into the Catholic Youth Ministry Initiative; so that we might crack the shell of today’s culture, allowing our youth to live a life that is faith-filled, so that they too may pass our faith onto the next generation.
I am very pleased to report that the early results of Generations of Faith demonstrate that unwavering spirit of generosity and sacrifice in Brooklyn and Queens is alive today. The pilot phase, just concluded, already has raised $25 million from 2,800 gifts in the 23 pilot parishes. This inspiring display of kindness is a testament to the leadership of our priests, the commitment of campaign volunteers and unwavering dedication of the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens.
In the Magnificat, the Blessed Mother, our Diocesan patroness, prays, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed.”
Mary is referring to us, the generations of the faithful. Regardless of the differences in our cultures and our communities, all generations of our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens continue to pray together these same words. Now, together, we look to the future with grateful hearts, united in prayerful solidarity for this extraordinary endeavor.
Every parish in the Diocese will put out into the deep participate in this endeavor throughout 2015 and 2016. When your parish participates in the campaign, I invite you to join me by making a commitment to Generations of Faith.
Please know that I am deeply grateful to those who have already done so. Our combined efforts will make a lasting contribution to the future of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens and will help serve the People of God, as in the beginning, now and always.
Under the guidance of our Blessed Mother, may the Kingdom of God continue to grow in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Through the generosity of many, across all generations, may our campaign be successful.