June 15, 2018

Circle of Giving recognizes donors for building up kingdom of God

Bridget Bowers, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, reads the braille book containing the readings for Sunday Mass at her Indianapolis home on May 15. Bowers receives braille Mass propers from the Xavier Society for the Blind, for which she is now a member of the advisory board. (Photo by Katie Rutter)

Catholic Charities employees talk with donors during a Circle of Giving dinner in Starlight on May 24. Pictured are Joan Hess, left, director of Catholic Charities in Tell City; Jane and Tom Huber of St. Michael Parish in Cannelton; Dawn Bennett, development director of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany, and Mark Casper, executive director of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities. (Photos by Patricia Happel Cornwell)

STARLIGHT—It was coincidence, but it couldn’t have been better planned: the Mass readings for May 24 were all about stewardship, which was the theme of the Circle of Giving Mass and dinner at St. John the Baptist Parish in Starlight that evening.

The archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development held the second annual event to thank its generous donors to the United Catholic Appeal (UCA) and the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF). The program was titled “Make Your Legacy About Creating a Culture of Giving.”

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was principal celebrant for the Mass. About 80 people attended the event, including members of the Legacy Society, who have established or contributed to an endowment or designated a planned gift through the foundation, and Miter Society members, those who have given $1,500 or more to the UCA.

Archbishop Thompson pointed out the appropriateness of the day’s assigned readings. A passage from the Letter of James warned the rich against “storing up treasures [on Earth] for the last days” (Jas 5:3), and the refrain of Psalm 49 from the responsorial psalm was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

In the day’s Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus urged his followers to be the salt of the Earth and says, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward” (Mk 9:41).

In his homily, the archbishop noted, “Everything we have, every gift, every blessing is given to help us glorify God and serve others. You are those people who have used your blessings and gifts to help the Church serve others. Our witness goes beyond the boundaries of the archdiocese.

“In Pope Francis’s most recent [apostolic exhortation], ‘Rejoice and Be Glad,’ he reminds us that it is the mission of every Christian to become holy. It’s not just for priests and bishops and nuns,” Archbishop Thompson said. “So do we see God as someone near, or someone at a distance? So many people think of God as being at a distance, which is so contrary to our Catholic faith. Jesus became man; he is intimately present in our lives, so each of us is capable of being holy.”

The archbishop continued, “We come here tonight knowing holiness is within our grasp. Tonight, we celebrate the ways you demonstrate holiness in your lives—as good stewards, as the salt of the Earth. We recognize how we build up the kingdom of God here in the archdiocese, all by the grace of God.”

During a buffet dinner following Mass, a video was shown in which Archbishop Thompson and longtime archdiocesan supporter Jerry Semler shared their thoughts on stewardship. Jolinda Moore, executive director of the Secretariat for Stewardship and Development, and Elisa Smith, CCF director, gave remarks regarding the importance of parishioners’ generosity to the work of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Becky and Paul Banet of St. Mary-of- the‑Knobs Parish in Floyd County were among those in attendance. “We’ve both been lifelong Catholics,” Becky said, “and we see the good work that the Church does throughout the world and throughout Indiana, so we like to share our gifts with others who are less fortunate.”

Terrence and Peggy Cody are members of St. Mary Parish in New Albany. Peggy worked at the parish’s school until it closed. Terrence, a Floyd County circuit court judge, grew up in the former Holy Trinity Parish in New Albany and attended Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville. As a judge, he oversees St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities’ Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program for Floyd and Washington counties.

“From our standpoint,” Terrence said, “we want to ensure that Providence High School will be here for a long time to come, that St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities and CASA will be ongoing, and also help ensure the propagation of the faith. I have an endowment that will come into existence at my passing—it’s planned giving.”

Nick Nicol and Barbara Renn attended the event from St. John Paul II Parish in Sellersburg. Barbara cited, as motivation for giving generously, supporting “Catholic education, Catholic Charities and the seminaries. We both volunteer at Marie’s Ministry,” the community distribution center of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany.

Mark Casper, executive director of St. Elizabeth, supports the work of the archdiocese personally in addition to managing the delivery of its services to his agency’s clientele.

“The importance of the event tonight,” he said, “is that it’s the strength of the greater Church, whether you’re ministering to the sick or to priests in retirement, to Catholic education or, in our case, to Catholic Charities. Some are blessed, and we can provide for others. As a global community, we take care of everybody. I see a lot of good people here.”

Robert Jones, who is a member of St. Michael Parish in Bradford, said, “It’s a good feeling to know that your money gets put to good use. It’s well distributed throughout the archdiocese.”

His wife Shirley added, “Our motivation is to keep our young people in the Church. We want to keep our Church active and thriving.”

If a prize were given to those who traveled the farthest for the event, it might have gone to Tom and Jane Huber, who attended from St. Michael Parish in Cannelton. Jane explained their reason for giving generously is because of the work of the archdiocese: “They teach us that we’re all one. We can’t just support our own parish. And we have a very active Catholic Charities agency that we want to support.”

The director of that Catholic Charities entity, based in Tell City, is Joan Hess, who said hers is the smallest of five Catholic Charities agencies serving the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“People ask me, ‘Don’t you have a hard time asking for help?’ ” Hess noted. “ I tell them, ‘How can I deny someone the joy and blessings of giving?’ ”

(Patricia Happel Cornwell is a freelance writer and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Corydon.)

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