If you haven’t already, this week, you’ll be getting some mail from the diocese. Similarly, there will be envelopes available in all the pews for this year’s Catholic Ministries Drive. It’s a very important fundraiser for our diocese that keeps our diocesan offices running. In various places that I’ve been, I’ve found that often the people have never had it explained what exactly the diocese does, what services are provided, and why they’re important.
I know that many years ago when they started the former campaign called the Annual Catholic Appeal, I often heard all sorts of complaints asking “where does the money go?” While I can say I served as a priest in the tail-end of that era, I remember that there had been a lot of questions about how the money was used.
Over the course of the last couple of years, as the Diocesean offices moved out of their old location next to Garvey Manor into their new location in the former Our Lady of Lourdes School, I watched as the vast majority of the staff who had worked there under our previous bishop have slowly turned over. Now it’s a much younger crew with a very different attitude. When I call down asking for things, they’re happy to help, and they really do support us in the parishes in a lot of ways that we don’t always realize.
With that in mind, I was very pleased when a couple of years ago, our new diocesan Director of Development decided to revamp the Annual Catholic Appeal and rename it. The new Catholic Ministries Drive that we’ve been doing for the last few years has done an excellent job at letting us know exactly where the money contributed really goes. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be putting in the bulletin stories of each of the various ministries the drive funds, and how it helps us build up the Church here in our diocese.
The new Catholic Ministries Drive runs 14 specific ministries in our diocese that are divided into 3 basic categories. So I though this week, I’d list them and give a brief description of what each of them are.
The First Category is “Nurturing our Youth.” The drive funds Campus Ministry, putting Catholic campus ministers and ensuring the sacraments on each of the 5 non-Catholic Universities in our Diocese, Juniata College, PSU Main Campus, PSU Altoona, UPJ Johnstown, and Lock Haven. The Education Office handles all the Superintendent responsibilities for our Catholic School system, working on everything from curriculum to grants, to oversight of our various Catholic Schools. The Sacramental Preparation office oversees First Communion, First Reconciliation, and Confirmation throughout the diocese. That’s been especially important to us this year, as they’ve managed all of the virtual confirmation retreats until we’re able to have in person retreats again. The Youth Ministry Office runs other youth programming throughout our diocese including our Summer Camps and Youth Days.
The Second Category, “Caring for the Poor and Strengthening Families” provides both outreach and assistance to families. Catholic Charities is our primary outreach to the poor for most of the diocese, they provide everything from Catholic counseling services, to budgeting help, to a wide variety of help to the poor and social services. Whenever I have someone looking for help, it’s been amazing how between St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities, we can often get them what they need. Catholic Charities specialized in some of the bigger needs. For example, they just recently opened a new women’s shelter in Johnstown. The Family Life office supports families, both with family programming and classes, and by managing Marriage prep and marriage enrichment courses throughout our diocese. Our own Deacon Gary & Patti were trained through the Family Life office as sponsor couples. The drive also helps with our twin mission diocese in Mandeville Jamaica.
The Third Category is “Forming Clergy and Laity”. This includes the Adult Enrichment and Lay Ecclesial
Ministry programs. Over the last few weeks, I’ve advertised some of their classes in the bulletin. Both programs provide some excellent adult education in the faith. The Christian Initiation office helps support our converts, providing us with resources and programming to help bring people into the faith. The Vocation Office works to recruit and train seminarians so that they can become priests, considering we’re talking about a 4-6 year graduate degree program, realize that to train each seminarian costs just a little more than sending a young person to college for 4-6 years. The Ongoing Formation office provides continuing education to our priests and deacons, and finally our Evangelization office works to promote the good news of the faith to our diocese as a whole. For example, I know that many of you saw the couple of Proclaim! interviews that I had done in the last few months; that entire ministry falls under the Evangelization office.
When we look at all of those ministries together, it’s quite a bit that happens at a diocesan level. Nearly all of them are good, solid, Catholic things that we need to be doing to build up the Church, and 100% of the money sent to the Catholic Ministries drive goes toward one of those.
With that in mind, I’d strongly encourage all of us to help us work toward our goal for this year. This year’s goal for our parish is $27,753.00. There are options to give through regular pledged gifts and online. Please consider helping us work toward this year’s goal.
God Bless You
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.