Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
  • 16

Partners in Charity: ‘We do it because we’re Catholics’

Posted By February 16, 2012 | 3:33 pm | Lead Story #3, Local
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By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – A cardinal was once urged to close Catholic schools in his diocese because most of the students were not Catholic.
“We do it not because our students are Catholic, but because we are Catholic,” he replied.
Bishop McManus applied that story to the annual Partners in Charity Appeal at the fund’s kickoff Monday at Our Lady of Loreto Parish.
“We do it because we’re Catholics,” he said. There is no asking for baptismal certificates to prove that those served are Catholics.
More than 150 clergy, laity and religious from parishes throughout the diocese, and from diocesan offices and agencies, attended the gathering, said Michael P. Gillespie, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. They socialized over hors d’oeuvres before listening to brief talks, watching this year’s campaign video and picking up their appeal materials.
The evening was sponsored and paid for by Community Counseling Service Co., which orchestrated the recent increased offertory initiative Sharing Our Blessings, Mr. Gillespie said.
This year’s Partners goal is $5 million, the same as last year, and all parish goals will remain the same, he said. Online giving was up significantly last year, which saves money on mailings, he said. He also said this year parishes ordered 20,000 more pledge envelopes than last year.
Mr. Gillespie asked for prayers for the appeal’s success. Blessed John Paul II is its patron. The theme is taken from the message he gave when he became pope: “Open wide the doors to Christ.”
“This extraordinary shepherd of the Church” has great influence even in death, Bishop McManus said. He said when he was in Rome for the bishops’ ad limina visit, he saw people lined up all the way around the piazza at St. Peter’s Basilica waiting to visit the late pope’s tomb.
At the sign of peace at Pope John Paul II’s funeral, where representatives of nations at war with each other were seated side by side, there was an experience of fraternity the United Nations could not have pulled off, Bishop McManus said.
The bishop also spoke of the relationship between parishes and the diocese, and said the pastor is “the gateway to the generosity his parishioners express.” The reconfiguration process has not been without pain, he said, but he would be upset if parishioners made no response to the closing of their parishes.
“The brilliance of Catholi–cism in the United States has been our parish structure,” he said, speaking of a time when Catholics were not welcomed much, and of people who embrace expanded parishes today.
Bishop McManus and Mr. Gillespie expressed gratitude for campaign chair-couple Fred and Patty Eppinger, and their children, and for campaign supporters, including Bishop Reilly and pastors. The bishop and Mr. Gillespie expressed confidence that the appeal will be successful this year, despite growing needs.
The criteria in the Gospel of Matthew for those who will share Christ’s kingdom is that they helped the hungry and imprisoned, and thus served Christ himself, the bishop said.         “The faithful throughout the diocese in the coming weeks will be asked ‘to do’ as Jesus did: to serve those in need, to help spread the Gospel, to care for our priests and to encourage vocations, to ensure vibrant parish communities and to pass on the faith to future generations,” said Mr. Gillespie. “We are mindful that each of us is responsible not only for his or her parish, but also for the well-being of the Church throughout our diocese and throughout the world.”
Mr. Eppinger, president and chief executive officer of Hanover Insurance Group in Worcester, said that, as a child, he entered a contest for the diocesan annual campaign. Although he did not win, his parents taught him about its importance. Now he and his wife, who are parishioners at St. Philip Parish in Grafton, try to communicate that to their own children, he said.
The video, which Mr. Gillespie said will be broadcast on all local cable access channels and the website www.partners-charity.net, showed Bishop McManus and appeal supporters and beneficiaries. It included a segment in Spanish, with English subtitles.
Mr. Gillespie said later that Bishop McManus is asking all pastors to conduct a diocesan-wide in-pew collection March 17 and 18.
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 Service, Seminarian Health Insurance, St. John’s Diocesan Cemetery System, Diocesan Development, Stewardship.
Education – Catholic Campus Ministry, Catholic Schools Department, The Office of Religious Education, Ongoing Priestly Formation, Diocesan Youth Ministry, Grants-in-Aid for Catholic School Students, Seminarian Education, Central Catholic Schools Subsidy, Advanced Studies for Clergy and Laity.
Ministry – African Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Marriage and Family, Ministry to Priests, Office of the Diaconate, Respect Life Office, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Vocations Office, Office for Divine Worship.

 

PHOTO:By Tanya Connor
Father Ernest P. Allega, pastor of St. Thomas-a-Becket Parish in South Barre, talks with parishioners Barbara Nordstrom and Vickie King as they pick up their Partners in Charity Appeal materials after the fund’s kickoff Monday at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Worcester.