October 19, 2018

Annual appeal helps lay the foundation for future generations

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson begins his homily with an anecdote as he speaks to members of the archdiocesan Miter Society and other supporters of the United Catholic Appeal during a Mass on Sept. 27 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in New Albany. (Photo by Katie Rutter)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson begins his homily with an anecdote as he speaks to members of the archdiocesan Miter Society and other supporters of the United Catholic Appeal during a Mass on Sept. 27 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in New Albany. (Photo by Katie Rutter)

By Katie Rutter (Special to The Criterion)

NEW ALBANY—As she sat in the basement community room of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany, parishioner Jean Vaughn expressed her gratitude for those who laid the building’s foundation.

“Wherever we have been, even in foreign countries, there has been a Catholic church that somebody else had built,” Vaughn began.

Her husband, Tom Vaughn, finished her thought.

“Somebody did it for us; we need to do it for the next ones coming up,” he said.

This, they explained, was why they were gathered with about 100 others on Sept. 27 to support the annual, archdiocesan-wide United Catholic Appeal.

To these people, the United Catholic Appeal strengthens and establishes the Church for the next generation just as much as a physical building.

The theme chosen for this year’s appeal is “All for the sake of others.” To each person in the room, that “other” may have been someone different: school children, the homeless, seminarians, mothers, young people, teachers, retired priests. Yet all were united in the common mission to support that “other” through whatever challenge they were facing.

“You have to help educate [seminarians] so we can have them there for the rest of the parishioners that are younger than us, so they’ll have somebody when we’re gone,” explained Brenda Baylor, a member of St. Mary Parish in Navilleton.

The United Catholic Appeal begins in late October and early November with mailings and weekend Mass collections in all parishes in central and southern Indiana.

The gathering at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, however, sought to thank and honor the appeal’s most dedicated supporters. Those present were members of the appeal’s Miter Society—people who give $1,500 or more annually—and others who might be interested in that level of support.

“We raise over 40 percent of our income of the appeal from 1,000 people,” explained Jolinda Moore, executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.

“Without members of the Miter Society, we would struggle terribly to hit our United Catholic Appeal goal, which means we cannot have an impact in the community of central and southern Indiana,” she said.

This year’s United Catholic Appeal goal is $6.6 million. Money raised goes to dozens of causes, such as providing shelter and food support for those in need, supporting Catholic school students and staff, funding catechetical programs and young adult ministries, providing counseling and material assistance for crisis pregnancies, sponsoring seminarian formation and sustaining retired priests.

“I’m taking care of family,” explained Carolyn Woolton, a member of the Miter Society and of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis. She and her husband Richard made the more than two-hour trip from Carmel, Ind., to New Albany to be present.

“We’re a universal Church, so when you’re giving to more than just your parish you’re helping everybody,” said Barb Rainbolt, a member and parish secretary of St. Michael Parish in Bradford.

“It’s a worldwide thing, it’s not just here in our county or our towns,” she added.

The evening began with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Charles

C. Thompson. In his homily, he outlined three practices lived out by Trappist monks: prayer, silence and labor. Archbishop Thompson emphasized that these practices must be central elements of the upcoming appeal, just as they are central elements of Christian life.

Christians need silence, “to hear the voice of God, to be attentive to where we’re being called,” he said. He then explained that the faithful should not labor for material goods, but rather “labor for our communities … our parishes … those in need,” and concluded that, “prayer reminds us that we belong to something greater than ourselves.”

Archbishop Thompson then turned to the clergy sexual abuse crisis that, in scandals uncovered over the summer, has rocked the Church. The archbishop insisted that prayer, labor and the silence of listening to God’s voice will also bring the Church through the crisis, bring healing, and help Catholics build a stronger foundation for the future.

“We will work through these challenges, we will work through the process of healing and reconciliation, building and restoring trust. But most importantly, we will know, I believe, the grace of purification and grow to what we’re called to be: holy people of God,” he said.

At the dinner that followed, Moore explained that, especially in the midst of the crisis, Catholics need to focus on others.

“Now more than ever, our community needs to see our strength and our goodness. Your support of the ongoing ministries of our Church makes this possible,” she said.

Participants nodded in agreement. In earlier interviews, committed donors were the first to emphasize that being a faithful Catholic meant more than just attending Mass on Sundays: it required a generous heart ready to give to others, no matter what.

“If somebody next door to you is suffering or has a problem, are you just going to say, ‘Well sorry, I went to Mass this morning, didn’t eat meat on Friday, so I’m good?’ ” asked Linda Smith, a member of St. Michael Parish in Bradford.

Sitting across from Smith, Baylor added, “If you pass somebody that’s got a flat tire, and they need help, you need to stop and help those people. That’s what Christ would do.”

Others in attendance explained that generosity was “a basic part of the faith,” and that living this faith was the only way the Church will be passed to the next generation.

“[Christ] had nothing, he survived because people gave,” said Richard Wooton, “and I feel it’s necessary—it’s the only way we continue—to share what we have, make people better off by it.”

Funds collected in the upcoming appeal are destined to support specific ministries under three large categories: families, those in need, and seminarian formation and clergy care.

“We’ve been blessed. We’ve got a roof over our heads, we have homes, we’re in relatively good health,” summarized Smith. “It’s our responsibility to help.”

(To learn more about the United Catholic Appeal, visit www.archindy.org/uca.)

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