My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As the Lenten season begins, I reach out to you, the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens, to ask your assistance in supporting the ministries of the Diocese of Brooklyn through a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal. On behalf of those we serve in our diocese, I take this time to thank you for your generous response to the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal and ask you to commit yourself to helping the Diocese reach our 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal goal.
The 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal, Share The Joy of The Gospel, has been inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical “The Joy of The Gospel,” which reminds us of the joy we receive when we bring the Good News to others. Our Holy Father reminds us that the things which make us happy should bring happiness to others. The 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal is one way for all who call Brooklyn and Queens home to share the joy of the Gospel, bringing Christ’s message to our neighbors by giving as generously as one is able.
In his encyclical, Pope Francis writes, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and the lives of those who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, bitter emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.”
Being joyful is the foundation of our lives. We are all called to take part in the New Evangelization encouraging others to know the joy of Christ. Throughout his pontificate, the Holy Father has challenged us to bring the joy we know from our relationship with Christ to the world. The 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal presents a real opportunity for all to respond to this challenge by making possible the many critical ministries in Brooklyn and Queens that are directly supported by your donation:
Catholic Education is so important to the life of our Diocese because it ensures the future of our Church here in Brooklyn and Queens. There are currently over 41,000 students attending our Catholic grammar schools and academies and high schools. Additionally, there are 44,420 students enrolled in parish religious education programs for those not attending a Catholic school or academy.
The demographic evidence suggests that perhaps another 80,000 students who were baptized and are continuing to live in this Diocese have never attended religious education. Consequently, these children neither received First Holy Communion nor were they Confirmed.
This year, our goal is to reach out and identify these 80,000 unaccounted-for children and their parents. It is our responsibility to recognize them, involve them and encourage them to participate in religious education. You help in our efforts to reach out to these families when you give generously to the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal, so that they may receive this vital religious education.
The 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal also supports the work of Catholic Charities and Catholic Migration Services. These organizations within our diocese reach out to alleviate the physical and psychological well-being of those in need at the local parish level. While some government aid is provided to Catholic Charities, it does not cover all the expenses nor does it cover the work that is distinctly Catholic. The care for women with a crisis pregnancy, for instance, rely directly on our diocesan support.
The life of every parish within the Diocese of Brooklyn depends heavily on the dedicated work of our parish priests. Your support of the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial in fostering Vocations by sustaining programs which allow young men to respond to God’s call to the priesthood.
As I began my Episcopal Ministry in Brooklyn and Queens in 2003, we had 27 seminarians preparing to enter the priesthood; today we have 55, thank God. Over the last 11 years, I have ordained 64 men to the priesthood for Brooklyn and Queens, thanks to the efforts we have made with our vocation programs, as well as our Parish Vocation Committees. We constantly need to replenish the work of the Church with new evangelizers, especially with our young priests, who as time passes, bear the burden and most of the work in the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens.
The Office of Faith Formation is also aided by the Annual Catholic Appeal. This office is responsible for how young people and adults are prepared to receive the sacraments. The School of Evangelization, within the Office of Faith Formation, provides the instruction and opportunity for the Diocese of Brooklyn to provide our lay leaders with the necessary tools to call others to evangelize.
We must also support our Catholic Chaplaincies in non-Catholic colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions throughout Brooklyn and Queens. The work of the Chaplain is significant in ensuring that the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens are not denied access to the sacraments and that the Church is a visible and vibrant presence of the Church on college and university campuses and those other institutions.
Our retired priests are helped by the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal as well. One way they are assisted is at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, where 45 rooms are dedicated to senior priests in the Bishop Mugavero Residence. This residence provides a dignified community experience for priests needing assistance.
Lastly, not all of our parishes are able to meet the financial burden their work demands. In recent years, we have made tremendous progress with Christ Jesus Our Hope, where we looked at all of our parishes in the Diocese to see which needed to be combined in order to be sustainable and vibrant. The parish support, which your gift to the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal provides, goes further to help those parishes with large pastoral demands in communities of low income or extraordinary circumstances.
Your commitment ensures the success of the mission of the Diocese of Brooklyn. I ask that you join me in putting out into the deep and Share The Joy of The Gospel with those in need by making a pledge to the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal.