||Fr. Bart Timmerman, pastor of Immaculate Hearts of Mary Parish in Monona, distributes Communion at his parish. Gifts to the Annual Catholic Appeal help fund diocesan ministries and services that benefit parishes throughout the Diocese of Madison. (Photo by James Baca)
MADISON -- “Jesus Christ showed us how to love. As Christians, we are defined by our willingness to give of ourselves even — if not especially — when that gift of self requires a sacrifice or makes us vulnerable.”
Those are the words of Fr. John Putzer, a newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Madison, who is one of those whose reflections are included in the Diocese of Madison’s 2011 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) brochure.
The theme of this year’s appeal is “Create in me a new heart.” Father Putzer, who was ordained to the priesthood on December 10, 2010, continues, “Donating money for a just cause is not just an act of generosity, but, even more significantly, a way of growing in love and uniting oneself to the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the Cross. In this sense, we as Christians have a greater need to give than the Church has a need to receive.”
Carrying on Christ’s work
The Annual Catholic Appeal offers members of the Church in the 11 counties of the diocese the opportunity to help support the essential ministries which carry on Christ’s work of love.
This year’s ACA goal of $3.43 million (the same as last year) provides funding for spiritual and temporal ministries in the diocese such as Catholic Charities (including rural life ministries and the Catholic Multicultural Center), Camp Gray, Office of Catholic Schools, Evangelization and Catechesis, Worship and Diocesan Choir, continuing education for clergy, support of the diaconate, Hispanic ministry, seminarian education, clergy retirement, and diocesan planning.
In addition, when the core budget of $2.9 million is met, an additional $530,000 will be returned through grants to distressed parishes, diocesan schools, and religious education programs throughout the diocese, noted Jill Driscoll, associate director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.
Consider a pledge
Driscoll said that parishioners in the Diocese of Madison will be receiving a direct mailing from Bishop Robert C. Morlino this week. The mailing includes a letter from the bishop, pledge card, brochure, and prayer card along with a reply envelope.
As a follow-up to the bishop’s mailing, parishes will conduct an in-pew commitment process in March for those who have not yet responded to the mailing.
“We encourage people to prayerfully consider a pledge, not just a one-time gift,” said Driscoll. She pointed out that people may commit to pledges to be paid over a five-month period.
Touching minds and hearts
“Making a charitable contribution can be challenging unless we’re in touch with both our hearts and our minds,” said Bishop Morlino in his message to people of the diocese. “Pope John Paul the Great began his 1998 encyclical letter on the relationship between faith and reason by declaring, ‘Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.’
“We can never separate our minds from our hearts,” the bishop points out. “When we allow our faith to inform our minds, our reasoning becomes one with our hearts. In knowing Christ — His sacred heart and His love — we can know, in our minds, how we can be most human — and most like we were created in the image of a loving God.”
Bishop Morlino said, “We emulate His sacrificial giving through simple yet selfless, concrete acts of charity such as contributing to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Please join me again this year in supporting the ACA that supports Jesus Christ’s gospel of love in the Diocese of Madison. I thank you wholeheartedly for your contribution to this critical appeal.”
The ACA will reach out into the parishes throughout the diocese on the weekend of March 19 to 20. At that time a tabloid will be distributed.
Commitment Weekend is scheduled for March 26 to 27, when parishioners will complete an in-pew pledge form. The goal is to make sure every parishioner has been given adequate information before Commitment Weekend to allow them to make an appropriate personal pledge. If they have already given a donation or a pledge from the direct mail solicitation, they will indicate that on the pledge form.
Training sessions with parish staff and volunteers were held in January and February throughout the diocese. The trainings are designed to help parishes inform parishioners of the importance of their participation and offer assistance in addressing questions that arise.
For more information about the ACA, contact the Office of Stewardship and Development, 702 S. High Point Rd., P.O. Box 44983, Madison, WI 53744, or visit the diocesan Web site at www.madisondiocese.org