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  • Aug
  • 16

In closing: Give a gift of gratitude

Posted By August 16, 2012 | 10:29 am | Lead Story #3
“Give until it hurts,” they say. But Michael Gillespie says: “I believe we should give until it feels good. Giving should not be painful. Yes, there’s a sacrifice – your time, your talent, your treasure.” But, he maintains, “There’s joy in the giving.” As director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, and overseer of the annual Partners in Charity Appeal which ends Aug. 31, he’s experiencing the giving of others. And the gift it is. Recently he received a gift for the appeal – from a woman who came to the Chancery to deliver it. She’d already contributed this year, but saw the importance of the appeal and that it was coming close to the goal, he said.

 By Tanya Connor

 

“Give until it hurts,” they say.

But Michael Gillespie says: “I believe we should give until it feels good. Giving should not be painful. Yes, there’s a sacrifice – your time, your talent, your treasure.” But, he maintains, “There’s joy in the giving.”

As director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, and overseer of the annual Partners in Charity Appeal which ends Aug. 31, he’s experiencing the giving of others. And the gift it is.

Recently he received a gift for the appeal – from a woman who came to the Chancery to deliver it. She’d already contributed this year, but saw the importance of the appeal and that it was coming close to the goal, he said.

She couldn’t afford not to give another gift, because she’s been so blessed, she told him. “How grateful she was,” he said.

“The key is gratitude. Gratitude is all connected with sharing. You can’t be grateful and be stingy. You can’t be grateful without sharing,” he said.

In speaking this way, and in other comments, Mr. Gillespie tied the Partners appeal to stewardship and evangelization.

“How wonderful that our patron this year was Pope John Paul II,” he said. “Our Holy Father believed so much in evangelization. And we’re all called to it by our baptism.”

Bishop McManus chose the appeal’s theme: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” which was taken from the message Blessed John Paul II gave when he became pope, Mr. Gillespie said.

“I thought it was a great idea,” he said. “It’s opening our hearts to Christ, to let the love of God into our hearts to change our way of thinking, so we’re not operating on the world’s terms. Jesus has called us to a new way of operating.

“We need to know: ‘Why we do what we do, and who are we?’ What’s different about us is that we have souls, and we belong to God, not to this world.”

This is connected with Partners in Charity because people have received gifts from God, he said.

“How can we share them with our brothers and sisters and ultimately bring people closer to God, in relationship with our Lord?” he asked.

“When we live as stewards, we learn that all things work for the good of those that love God. We’re all called to respond in a stewardship manner. We truly own nothing. We’re entrusted with it, and now we’re called to share it with others. It’s like a circle of giving. … Partners is an opportunity to express on a physical level how much we love our Church.”

Mr. Gillespie used retired priests as an example. They are among beneficiaries of Partners. So the appeal gives grateful people the opportunity to give back to the priests, even if not in equal measure, for the years they’ve given to the Church, for their “yes” to their vocation, he said.

The appeal also helps fund St. John’s Diocesan Cemetery System, for the upkeep of burial grounds “for our beloved dead,” he said.

Mr. Gillespie spoke of exposing new people – such as foreign-born seminarians and those entering the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) – to the appeal. They can be shown it’s an opportunity to give back in gratitude, a way of belonging to the broader community of the diocese, in addition to their parish.

All should be invited to give – “for their own sake as well as for the sake of Partners,” Mr. Gillespie said. He said every gift is important; it’s not so much the size of the gift, but the act of giving, and giving back, and being part of the circle of sharing.

Some people on a fixed income sent in $5 or $10, he said. Some who are unemployed or underemployed contributed, as did children raising money with a lemonade stand.

“We also have letters from people in their 90s,” thanking God for Partners in Charity, some still calling it “the Bishop’s Fund,” Mr. Gillespie said. A number of them – and people of all ages – were donors in the past, and are beneficiaries of the fund now, or used to be beneficiaries and can now give, he said.

“Others are authentically living the tithing message” – down to the penny – Mr. Gillespie said, explaining that some gifts with unusual numbers of dollars and cents come with a note that says, “Here’s my tithe.”

Mr. Gillespie expressed gratitude to those who contributed.

“We thank them for fulfilling their pledges,” he said.

“If we don’t fund the ministries fully, there’s a ripple effect, and it’s not a positive one,” he said. He said if Partners is short of money, the ministries, the ministers who operate them, and the people they minister to suffer.

Tuesday he said that the campaign is at almost 95 percent of the $5 million goal, with $288,847 still needed.

“Partners really impacts our everyday life, especially on a parish level,” he said. “Partners helps fund seminarian education. We have retired priests serving in parishes. We can’t go a day without seeing that Partners helps people out, in such a positive way.”