June 1, 2018

‘Culture of giving’ celebrated at ‘Circle of Giving’ event

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson addresses Miter Society and Legacy Society members at the “Circle of Giving” event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on May 9. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson addresses Miter Society and Legacy Society members at the “Circle of Giving” event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on May 9. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

On May 9, Catholics from various parts of the archdiocese gathered to celebrate a pattern that becomes a “circle of giving.”

Addressing the crowd, Jolinda Moore explained how this circle begins.

“As children, we wanted to be the one to drop that small envelope in the Sunday collection,”said Moore, archdiocesan executive director of stewardship and development. “We didn’t know what was inside of it, but we knew whatever it was held great value.

“We all give today because someone fostered that [habit] in us when we were young. [That] generosity is creating a culture of giving that will continue to serve the Church for many generations.”

Moore’s words, and those of other speakers highlighted below, are applicable to all who donate their time, skills or funds to the Church.

But at this annual event—aptly called “Circle of Giving”—Moore addressed two particular groups of charitable donors: members of the Miter Society and of the Legacy Society.

These two groups represent a circle of giving in terms of how each helps provide for the Church in central and southern Indiana. Miter Society members contribute $1,500 or more to the United Catholic Appeal (UCA), which meets the present needs of the local Church.

Turning to the future, Legacy Society members are those who help sustain the local Church for generations to come by making a planned gift of a will, trust, life insurance or charitable gift annuity through the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation (CCF).

The “Circle of Giving” event began with Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson as the principal celebrant. A reception followed across the street at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center, where Moore and others spoke.

In her address, CCF director Elisa Smith spoke of the next step in the circle, after children are taught about and included in giving.

“It is amazing what can happen when we as parents, friends or teachers plant the seeds of generosity,” she said. “I oftentimes see families coming together to make a gift to their preferred Catholic ministry, whether it’s a husband and wife including a bequest for their parish in their will, or siblings gifting a part of their inheritance of Mom’s estate to [an endowment for] the Catholic school that she attended.”

Smith noted that 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of the CCF’s creation. The foundation now consists of nearly 500 endowment funds, $180 million in assets, and distributions of more than $112 million during the last 30 years. The funds benefit archdiocesan parishes, schools and other Catholic agencies. Smith added that the assets of the foundation “are invested according to guidelines established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for socially responsible investing.”

To perpetuate the pattern of giving for the local Church, Smith offered this advice: “Look for those teachable moments as you involve your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews in giving. By doing so, you too can instill a culture of giving both for today and a lifetime.”

In his homily, Archbishop Thompson reminded those present that “our call to growth in holiness is one where we allow the Spirit to speak to us ... and [help us discern] how God is asking us to be good stewards of our gifts, our talents, our treasure. … Apart from God, our task is impossible. With God, all things are possible.”

Later in the evening, he thanked the crowd for their contributions.

“To do what we do, we need the annual gifts that you provide through the United Catholic Appeal, and the long-term gifts you make to the Catholic Community Foundation through planned giving,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Together, these financial gifts are providing for our Church today and well into the future.”

Examples of those present and future needs include formation for seminarians now to provide priests for the future. Steve Keucher noted that he and his wife Diane, members of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, had “been giving to the campaign long before [their son, Father Michael Keucher] made the decision to become a priest. Clearly, by removing any financial barrier for young men who are thinking about this, it makes a big difference.”

Seminarian formation is also important to Ruth Buening of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. She has established two CCF funds, one for her parish and one for seminarian education.

Buening said she established the endowment because “we need priests. We’re closing and combining [parishes]. ... If I can help people who think they have a vocation, that’s wonderful for all of us.”

John Holzer, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Osgood, appreciates the help that UCA funds provide for priests after their decades of service to the Church.

“Some of my best friends are priests, and I know we’re helping them with their retirement” by contributing to the UCA, he said.

Holzer has been attending this annual Mass and dinner event for more than 20 years.

“I had three children in college at one time,” said the father of four, who was a single parent for most of the years he raised his children. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to give that year.” But thanks to God, he said, “I had a bigger bonus at work, so I was able to contribute.”

At 34, Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon knows it can be more difficult at times to donate to the UCA, especially for young people just entering the workforce.

“It’s something that we’re all called to do within our means,” said the member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. “It might not be the same amount for everyone, but as is wonderfully illustrated in the widow’s mite story [Mk 12:41-44, Lk 21:1-4], giving what you have is what counts.

“I would encourage younger folks not to be concerned that what they’re able to give is too little. It still makes a difference. ... Getting into the habit at an early age is great, because as your income typically increases with age, you’re used to giving already, and it just becomes a habit.”

Plus, she added, “So much good is done with the contributions to [the United Catholic Appeal] that it makes it a really great way to do a lot of good in one fell swoop.”

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Thompson circled attention back to the core reason for Catholics to take part in the circle of giving through the UCA and the CCF.

“We are called not only to say thanks to God, but to do thanks as well,” he said. “This expression of gratitude to God in action is called stewardship.

“Let’s thank God for all the gifts that we have been blessed with. Let us be grateful stewards whose words and actions show that we are responsible, generous and willing to give back to the Lord with increase. Let’s be grateful believers who do thanks as well as say it.”

(For more information on the United Catholic Appeal or to donate, go to www.archindy.org/uca, or contact Jolinda Moore at 317-236-1462, 800-382-9836, ext. 1462, or e-mail jmoore@archindy.org. For more information on the Catholic Community Foundation, go to www.archindy.org/ccf, call 317-236-1482, 800-382-9836, ext. 1482, or e-mail ccf@archindy.org.)

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