Every Diocese, every institution, and most worthwhile causes have an annual appeal that is a necessity for their continued success and survival. In the Diocese of Greensburg, our annual appeal is called the Diocesan Lenten Appeal (DLA). This past Wednesday Julie from our staff joined me in attending the 2014 kick off luncheon meeting at the Bishop Connare Center in Greensburg. The theme for this year is "I Have No Hands But Yours". Bishop Lawrence Brandt was present and spoke to us, as did the new managing director of the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Greensburg, Mr. James Edwards. I met him and he seems like a fine young man who has experience and expertize in the business. Mike Lucotch who has been the Director of the Appeal for many years also spoke. It was a good gathering, necessary as is the Appeal for the continued functioning and mission of the Church, but "old hat" at this stage of the game.
This Appeal has gone through many manifestations over the years. Old timers will speak of the "one time" appeal to get the diocese established called the Diocesan Expansion Day (DED). This "one time" appeal became annual. It was known as the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) for awhile and now the DLA. It continues to raise funds for the work of the diocese and to see returns to the parish. It is good, and it is necessary.
But I have to admit a lack of enthusiasm on my part toward the meeting. I have been leading these Appeals for about thirty years now and was involved for another ten or so before that as an assistant. Add the various major diocesan and parish campaigns thrown in and they become a challenge to stay excited about. I was struck this year by a sense of deja vu, finding a number of "new things" this year that were done before and are now being resurrected by the new director, including a taped message from the bishop to be played at all masses (Bishop Connare used to do the same, only we used a cassette tape in those days) and new on the pledge cards, a pledge of $36.50 per month for ten months or a gift of $365.00 or $1.00 a day (I've been pushing that concept for many years).
Our needs never decrease. Our goals never decrease. The generous stewardship of our people never decreases. And because of those things, our Appeals will never cease. It would be easy to allow ourselves to see the Church as being only about money. One critical local web site took the bishop to task recently for extending gratitude by publishing last year's parishes results in the diocesan paper, calling it an embarrassing coercion for parishes to do better than the Jones's. But this work is about being Church, about services provided and faith shared, and stewardship lived by thousands upon thousands of good, hardworking Catholic people. And so, once again into the breach, we plunge ahead, set our goal, and give thanks to God in the ways that we can. And to those who share in this work, we are most grateful.
I wanted to say that as I approach the end of three years of these posts in March, this month of February has seen the least number of posts - with this being only the tenth. I apologize, and assure you that it is only because of the winter weather doldrums that I have lessened my efforts. Another storm coming this weekend ... but daylight savings time is right around the corner as is Spring (20 days?). Think Spring.