February 12, 2017
If you watch T.V., if you go to the mall, if you read newspapers or magazines, you will be very aware that the middle of February is dominated by Valentine’s Day. Indeed, some of you may even be harboring hopes for this coming Tuesday February 14th. If, however, you are a priest of the Diocese of Orlando romance will not be at the front and center of your mind around this time of year. The weekend nearest to Valentine’s Day almost always seems to be the weekend of the annual Catholic Appeal, what we have sometimes called “The Bishop’s Appeal”. It’s the time when we watch a video of the Bishop speaking about the varied work of the Diocese and asking us to make a financial contribution to ensure that the work continues. The Catholic Appeal campaign is always a challenge and the clergy don’t like it much, and yet - just as much as Valentine’s Day - this, too, is concerned with love.
If you are a Catholic you are called to love God and to love the Church. From the very beginning of his ministry Jesus assembled a community of disciples; and from Pentecost onwards, when the twelve were given the Holy Spirit, it was the Spirit-filled community - what we call “the Church” (with a big C) - which makes Jesus present in the world. Jesus Christ is now incarnate in his people or, as Saint Teresa of Avila said: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now”. Individually most of us are unable to work with the poor, or university students, or the children of our sister diocese in the Dominican Republic. But by supporting such works, and many others, through the Catholic Appeal each year, we are able to play our part.
Last year Easter was very early and the Appeal coincided with the beginning of Lent. I felt enormously blessed that we met our parish goal of $150,000 within three or four weeks so that by the time we came to Holy Week we were fully able to concentrate on the events of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. This year our goal is the same and I ask you to do the same and respond immediately and generously. If things are tight I invite you to do as I will and give just a dollar a day, $365 for the year. That daily sacrifice is a sign of our love for the local Church community, the Diocese through which God sustains and nourishes our life of faith. By supporting the Catholic Appeal once again this year let us give Bishop Noonan the means to carry out the job which our Lord has entrusted to him. Thank you for your response this day and in the weeks to come!