Catholic Free Press

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  • Mar
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In early days Partners appeal tops $1M

Posted By March 20, 2014 | 12:44 pm | Lead Story #1

By William T. Clew

By March 18, just 13 days after it began on Ash Wednesday, the annual Partners in Charity appeal  topped the $1 million mark, according to Michael P. Gillespie, diocesan director of Stewardship and Development.
Gifts and pledges total $1,010,200. Some 2,000 donors have made pledges or gifts. Gifts totaling $79,200 have been received so far from 53 of the 137 active diocesan priests. Fifteen of the 44 retired priests have given a total of $17,950, Mr. Gillespie reported.
The goal for the Partners in Charity appeal this year is $5 million.
In-pew collections  are scheduled this weekend in most diocesan parishes. Envelopes will be distributed in the pews and a step-by-step guide has been provided to pastors to help conduct the collection, he said.
The annual Partners in Charity Appeal helps to support charitable, educational and ministerial organizations in the diocese. They include:
Charity:     Catholic Charities, Clergy Retirement, Retired Priests Health Ministry, Haitian Apostolate, McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys, Pernet Family Health Services, Seminarian Health Insurance,
St. John’s Cemetery System, Diocesan Development, Stewardship
Education: Campus Ministry, Catholic Schools Office, Office of Religious Education, Ongoing Priestly Formation, Youth & Young Adult Ministry, Seminarian Education, Grants-in-Aid for Catholic School Students, Central Catholic Schools Subsidy, Advanced Studies for Clergy and Laity, Communications Office
Ministry: African Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Marriage and Family, Minister to Priests, Office of the Diaconate, Respect Life Office, Cathedral of St. Paul, Vocations, Office for Divine Worship, Wells Street House.


Class sends letters to seminarians

By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

3-21 Partner semi WEB  LEOMINSTER – Some of the men now studying for the priesthood received some extra mail this year. It was sent by the fourth-grade students in the Saturday morning CCD program at St. Leo Parish.
Teacher John Shannon is very aware of the importance of promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In addition to his duties as a religious education instructor, he is an active member of the Serra Club of Worcester North.
Mr. Shannon explained that he spoke to his class about vocations, and he showed them a poster with the pictures of the current seminarians. Then his students wrote letters to a seminarian they selected.
He said this was done partly to let the seminarians, who will one day serve the people in the diocese, know that they are supported and that others are grateful for what they are doing.
“It’s important so they know people out there know what they’re doing,” Mr. Shannon explained.
In the letter, the students could ask the seminarians questions, such as, “What’s your favorite sport?” The students are aware that some of the seminarians were from other countries, so the favorite sport might be soccer, instead of football or baseball.
Mr. Shannon said students who wrote these letters only used their first names, and any return letters were addressed only to him.
Also, said Mr. Shannon, religious education students should be taught about the importance of vocations.
“It will make an impact on them and it will raise their awareness of these men studying to become priests,” he noted. “There’s a lot of studying and there’s a lot of work involved.”
“It’s a four to six-year process,” he added. “They’re preparing to serve the people of God in this diocese. It’s important that these seminarians know they are being supported through prayer.”
Mr. Shannon, who is a teacher by profession, said this project was received with enthusiasm, and they were “very excited” when they received replies to their letters.
Father James S. Mazzone, diocesan director of vocations, said the letters would have been very welcome.
“I’ve never met a college student or seminarian who doesn’t like to get ‘old fashion’ mail from home — that is, a letter or card sealed in an envelope sitting in their on-campus mailbox,” he stated. “ It’s a warm reminder that there are folks from home thinking of them.”
Father Mazzone said the letters are a nice reminder that someone out there is thinking of them, as the seminary routine can be intensely busy.
“We presently have 18 seminarians studying in seven different institutions around the East Coast and Europe, and I know that communications from home go a long way in lifting their spirits in the midst of busy or trying days,” he said.  “Seminary life carries with it daily prayers, devotions, Mass and frequent spiritual direction and mentoring. “
In addition to the spiritual formation received in the seminary, the students also have a fairly rigid workload.
“The academic piece is very similar to the familiar pace of college studies many have experienced and endured. There are Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, Tuesday-Thursday classes, papers, presentations, exams, quizzes, mid-terms and finals,” he explained. “Added to this is ‘field ministry’ where seminarians develop ministerial skills in ‘real life’ situations under the guidance of seasoned supervisors in parishes, hospitals, nursing homes and outreach centers.
“The pace of life can be dizzying when these elements are all combined — formation, academics and field ministry,” he continued. “Therefore the assurances of prayers and support through written communications serves as a great lift and at times a valuable reminder that it is all worth it.  It is worth ‘selling all one has’ to buy that field in which that pearl of great value is found.”
Within a few years, God willing, the men now studying for the priesthood will be serving the faithful after they are ordained.
“Mail from the faithful serves as a frequent reminder to the seminarian that there are folks living in our diocese of 67 towns and cities and a 100-plus parishes and missions who await their future ministry,” Father Mazzone noted.

– Partners in Charity gives financial support to the Office for Vocations and its seminarian programs.