One of the best aspects of working at The Catholic Foundation is the daily opportunity to observe the generosity of so many Catholics. It is a privilege and a blessing to encounter people who are inspirational examples of “Giving in Faith, Giving in Love.”
Last Friday, June 1, we reviewed May’s gifts and pledges to the 2007 Catholic Appeal. I am honored and thrilled to report that over 27,000 Catholics have participated thus far, contributing more than $7 million toward our goal of $14 million. These figures represent a great start for the Catholic Appeal and an encouraging sign of unity of Catholics coming together from all parts of our archdiocese to carry on our collective mission.
Every gift is an act of faith and love. The work of the Church is strengthened by each gift, not only financially, but because one more of the faithful gives back to God some of their blessings. Through this act of giving, we encourage and inspire each other.
As I reviewed the spreadsheet of 27,000 donors many things moved me. First, we noticed the three parishes that had already surpassed their appeal goal during the first month of the appeal. It is clear by the number of participants that these parish communities have rallied around this opportunity to help their fellow Catholics and to strengthen the Church.
Another great sign is the 15 percent of May’s participants that increased their support from 2006. Since many in this group are on fixed incomes, their increased generosity led our Catholic Foundation team to reflect on Jesus’ parable of the widow’s mite from Luke 21 in which an elderly woman gives her last coins as an offering to God.
An inspiring part of the early appeal results is seeing the generosity of the 245 priests (and counting) who contributed. In fact, the majority of these priests contributed more than $500 and the average gift among all priests thus far is $742. These priest contributors ranged from the newly ordained to the retired, from parochial vicars to pastors, and included many religious order priests in addition to our diocesan priests. Priests in the Archdiocese of Boston earn an annual salary of less than $25,000 and have many of the same expenses that the rest of us do. So why do they support the Catholic Appeal so sacrificially?
I believe there are many reasons. These priests know the good that is accomplished through the Catholic Appeal and they want to support it. They know that they will be asking their parishioners for support, and like any good leader, they choose to lead by example. They realize how God has blessed them and they want to return that generosity to God. They gave the most generous gift of all -- their entire lives -- to the Church at their ordination out of love for Christ, the Church and for us. Yet they continue to give even more.
What should we do in response to the generosity of these priests? First, I encourage us to step back, reflect and appreciate the gift priests are to us individually and to our archdiocese. Let us thank them more frequently for responding to their call to serve the Church as priests and for all they do to help lead us to Christ. Finally, we can follow their inspirational example by generously sharing our time, talent and financial resources with the Church.
I encourage you to join with Cardinal Seán, these priests, thousands of Catholics across our archdiocese and me in contributing to the 2007 Catholic Appeal. Many of our pastors are striving to meet their parish appeal goals by June 30 so we ask you to prayerfully consider making a pledge by then. Materials are available in each parish, on www.BostonCatholicAppeal.com and by calling 617-779-3700. To those of you that have already contributed, I thank you for generously “Giving in Faith, Giving with Love.”
Scot Landry is Secretary for Advancement and Chief Development Officer for the Archdiocese of Boston.