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FLOYD COUNTY—Encounter and dialogue.
Those two words have been used frequently by Pope Francis during his pontificate. And Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin echoed the Holy Father when he shared the priority of engaging with and evangelizing young adults in the Church in central and southern Indiana.
“Our Catholic youths are leaving the Church. They fuel the growing category of ‘nones’—persons who identify their religion as ‘none,’ ” Archbishop Tobin told the nearly 200 members of the New Albany Deanery’s Miter Society at St. Mary-of-the-Knobs Parish in Floyd County on Oct. 8. “Pope Francis talked about encounter and dialogue. We want to keep that dialogue going, with our youth, with the poor, with those we don’t see at Church, whoever they are.”
Members of the Miter Society gathered on that evening to hear Archbishop Tobin discuss the upcoming United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope campaign (UCA). The society is a group of lay and pastoral leaders who make generous financial gifts that enable the archdiocesan community to continue to provide hope and compassion to the people it serves.
“The purpose of the gathering is to share the good work and ministries that are accomplished through the United Catholic Appeal,” said Jolinda Moore, director of stewardship and development for the archdiocese. “Additionally, the meeting signals the Church’s preparation and anticipation of ministry funding for the upcoming stewardship season.”
The archbishop noted the Church in central and southern Indiana continues to be blessed by parishioners’ generosity.
“We are able to accomplish many good things because the people of this archdiocese pull together,” he said.
The archbishop set a celebratory tone with his remarks, focusing on the fact that not only has Miter Society membership doubled during the past six years, but the overall number of people donating to the UCA increased substantially last year.
A total of $6.2 million was raised in 2014 to support seminarians, deacon formation, retired priests, Catholic education and faith formation, and services to those most in need through food pantries, maternity homes for women and their children, and home mission parishes. The archbishop emphasized that every dollar raised through the UCA is used in ministry. Salaries and other program costs are funded through other sources.
Archbishop Tobin reflected on Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, noting the Holy Father’s single-minded focus on service and love for all, especially those on the margins of society and those who have not yet embraced Christ. Pope Francis called for mercy, and emphasized the interrelatedness of our relationships with God, each other and our home, the Earth.
The United Catholic Appeal recognizes and acts on that interrelatedness.
“Not simply altruism, the UCA is a way that we can open our eyes to and care for the needs of the marginalized,” Archbishop Tobin said. He also reiterated his personal definition of stewardship: “What I do with what I have when I believe in God.”
Longtime Miter Society member Carl Wolford. a member of Holy Family Parish in New Albany, said, “When the archbishop tells you how your money is used, you feel very confident.”
His wife Mary Kay added, “It’s nice that he came here. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to go to Indianapolis. And when he comes, he inspires people to be generous.”
Archbishop Tobin acknowledged the sacrifices of the faithful. “Whatever crosses we carry, we can still do good.”
(Leslie Lynch is a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville.) †