By Bishop Robert J. Brennan
Through our common baptism in Christ, each of us shares the responsibility of the Church community both to proclaim and live the Joy of the Gospel and the Splendor of truth.
Just like the first Apostles, we always seek to know the Lord Jesus closely and deeply, seeking His help and guidance in all things. But also like them, we are sent out to the world, which so desperately needs to know Him — perhaps even without realizing so.
As a Church, we are stronger together. Think about what we accomplish together. If it were not for the commitment of parishioners throughout the Diocese to the Annual Catholic Appeal each year, the ability of the Church to provide some of the basic services and ministries in the Diocese of Brooklyn would be impossible.
The Church in Brooklyn and Queens has long been a place where the Gospel has been preached in such a way that those hearing it have had the opportunity to be transformed in the love of Christ.
Now we pick up the baton and take on today’s challenges and opportunities through our support of the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal. In line with this year’s theme, it is our time to respond in faith, hope, and charity to Jesus, who calls us to be a light for all people. It is our time to remember the real and everlasting presence of Jesus Christ in our midst and how a Catholic presence brings truth and strength not only to our own lives but to those around us.
Who does your offering to the Annual Catholic Appeal support? Those who are hungry, without shelter, without access to Catholic education, men discerning the priesthood or diaconate, and those who are ill and dying are just a few of the groups who depend upon your generosity to the Annual Catholic Appeal. The Appeal also directly impacts each of your parishes — without vocations, you would not have priests, without training, no religious education programs or Eucharistic ministers, and so many other things needed for your parish to spread the joy of the Gospel. The Appeal is the primary source of funds for so many programs and ministries that go beyond the scope of any individual parish and are only made possible through your collective generosity.
Catholic education tuition assistance allows those families facing financial difficulties to send their children to one of our 70 Catholic elementary schools and academies that currently educate 19,174 students. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater demand on the need for help, whether due to the loss of a job or a beloved family member. Support of the Annual Catholic Appeal directly funds the scholarship programs administered by Futures in Education. Catholic education is critical to the life of our Diocese because it ensures the future of our Church in Brooklyn and Queens.
Additionally, 50,000 students participate in parish religious education programs for those not attending Catholic schools. Since the pandemic, our parish religious education programs have had to be innovative and imaginative in keeping up with many challenges. Thanks to the support provided by donors to the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Office of Faith Formation worked with parish Directors of Religious Education to implement virtual classrooms, online registration, multimedia resources, and guidelines for limited in-person activities, keeping everyone safe while also growing in the Spirit.
A gift to the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal also supports Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens. As one of the largest programs in the United States, our Catholic Charities programs offer services to everyone, regardless of race, nationality, or religion. Throughout the pandemic, Catholic Charities addressed the over 1,000% increase in demand for food services experienced in Brooklyn and Queens. Your gift will allow the Church to continue to walk side-by-side with those in need during these challenging times. The more than 1.5 million Catholics coming from 167 countries and speaking more than 33 languages are also served because of your support. The Catholic Migration Services Office offers our new immigrants high-quality legal services, education, and advocacy to advance equality and social justice in a changing and diverse population.
The life of every parish within the Diocese of Brooklyn depends heavily on the dedicated work of our priests and deacons. Your support of the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial in fostering vocations by sustaining programs that allow men to hear and respond to God’s call to the priesthood and the permanent diaconate. You also support the 52 men preparing to become priests and 35 men preparing to become permanent deacons, all currently studying in our seminary and formation programs.
Essential to the mission Christ gave us are our chaplaincies. Our chaplains are the priests who serve those in our hospitals, prisons, colleges, and high schools. Their dedication and service offer comfort to the ill, light to the imprisoned, and guidance to those seeking to further themselves through academic study. The work of a chaplain was never more significant as it is now — ensuring that none of the faithful of Brooklyn and Queens are denied access to the sacraments, especially our healthcare workers and those who are hospitalized.
Let us not forget our responsibility to our retired priests. They have played an important role in the lives of the people of our Diocese, and now is their time to rest and retire. At the Immaculate Conception Center, we have 49 rooms for retired priests with personal care support services such as meals, medication management, and transportation. It is our mission to give them the dignity of a comfortable retirement.
I want to assure you that we stand committed to full transparency and respect your wishes regarding the ministries you intend your donation to support. Your gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal cannot and will not be used in the settlement of sexual abuse victim claims or for anything other than the intended purposes outlined in Appeal materials. An independent audit by Grassi & Company is available on the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens website.
The impact of your gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal is essential to the people of our Diocese and the mission given to us by Christ. Your donation assists those most in need among us as well as the everyday functions of each of your parishes. We know that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church; we just need to open ourselves to cooperation, rising to the challenges we face as stewards of the saving message and life given to us in Christ, Jesus.
I invite you to respond in faith, hope, and charity to your baptismal call by making a gift to the 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal. I thank you in advance for your prayerful consideration and generosity.