Braintree, MA –Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has announced the start of the 2011 Catholic Appeal, Offering Hope By Sharing God’s Gifts. The Catholic Appeal launches this weekend, March 5th & 6th in parishes across the Archdiocese of Boston. All are encouraged to visit the Appeal’s website at www.BostonCatholicAppeal.org to learn more about the important programs and ministries supported by the Catholic Appeal and ways to give.
In a letter to the Archdiocesan family, Cardinal Seán wrote, “As Catholics, each of us is called through baptism to a life of discipleship. This calling means we share a common mission to proclaim the Gospel and to build a more just society that will help others find the path that leads to God and to salvation. This year’s Catholic Appeal, “Offering Hope by Sharing God’s Gifts,” is an invitation for all of us to participate in this common mission.” The Cardinal will be bringing his message of hope to parishes this weekend. He will celebrate Mass and preach on Saturday, March 5 at 4:00 pm at Blessed Mother Teresa in Dorchester, followed by Sunday, March 6 at 9:00 am at St. Michael in North Andover and 12 Noon at St. Bridget in Framingham.
The Archdiocese of Boston provides a diverse array of support, training and services for its parishes, schools and other agencies. In addition, over 60 shared, central ministries serve thousands of individuals across the Archdiocese’s 144 cities and towns. The Catholic Appeal provides 84% of the philanthropic funding for these critical services and ministries. This funding comes from the generosity and stewardship commitment of parishioners. Without the Catholic Appeal, the responsibility to provide these educational and enrichment ministries would return to the local parish level. By nourishing the ministries and mission of the Archdiocese — a community of faith that reaches beyond the boundaries of any one parish — we share our faith with others.
Kathleen Driscoll, Secretary for Institutional Development said, “Under Cardinal Seán’s leadership we have witnessed a rebirth in our Archdiocese. People from across the Catholic family and beyond have joined him in offering their time, talent and treasure in service to Christ. Through the Catholic Appeal we are able to support programs and initiatives that assist the needy, our youth, parishes and schools. Our commitment to evangelization and vocations are examples of the importance we are placing on planning for the future. All this is being made possible because of the generosity of thousands of committed and caring Catholics and benefactors. These are still challenging economic times for many, but by the Grace of God we are building up our Church now and for the future generations of Catholics.”
Gifts to the Catholic Appeal fund over 50 ministries, programs and offices, including youth ministry, evangelization outreach, vocations, pro-life ministry, campus ministry, Catholic education, parish support and the Cardinal’s office to name a few.
In his video homily for the 2011 Catholic Appeal weekend which is available on www.BostonCatholicAppeal.org the Cardinal says, “Our annual collection also has many dimensions. It allows us as Christ’s family to have a sense of ownership for the works of mercy and evangelization of our Church and it helps us to be connected with each other in a common mission.”
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 291 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year. Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit www.BostonCatholic.org.
Text of Video Homily of Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM Cap. for Catholic Appeal Weekend 2011
My dear friends, it’s a pleasure for me to speak to you here today, from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in our beautiful Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
Location, location, location…
When I went to be Bishop in the West Indies, there was an amazing residence for the Bishop. It was on the top of the highest mountain on the Island. There was 50 mile visibility of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Then a storm came and the winds blew, the rains fell and the house totally collapsed. We rebuilt it and another storm came and it was déjà vu all over again.
So Jesus is right – location, location, location. The rock, not the sand. The slopes, not the mountain top. In many places houses are placed on ocean front property or on the top of a mountain for the scenery. And it is just a disaster waiting to happen. I am sure the man who built his house on sand thought it’s great to be right on the beach.
We need to listen carefully to Jesus’ warning and seek to build our lives on rock and not on sand.
Moses told God’s people: “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul,” and then says he sets before us a blessing and a curse. There is a blessing for those who obey the Lord’s commandments and a curse for those who do not obey.
Actions have consequences. Obedience brings blessing, disobedience unhappiness. In America, freedom is so important to us that sometimes we forget that God wants us freely to obey God. To choose to live our lives according to the Father’s Will.
In light of today’s Gospel we might ask how we go about “storm proofing” ourselves. How does one move from being a hearer of the Word to being a doer of the Word? Doing the Word entails being grounded in divine love and acting out of that awareness. We are buffeted by so many storms. We must find our strength in Christ who is our rock.
Jesus great sermon on the parables can be read as a commentary on Jesus’ claim that those who do the will of the Father are His brother, sister and mother. You do not become a brother or sister to Christ through birth, but you become His brother and sister by learning to be His disciple. The parables become one of the ways in which Jesus trains His disciples to constitute this new family. This is not easy, as Chesterton once said: The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.
Today’s Gospel begins with an explanation and then gives us the parable. That is quite the opposite of what Jesus usually does. Jesus talks about the person who says: “Lord, Lord,” but does not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Like those who brag about prophesying, casting out devils or doing mighty deeds in the Lord’s name, only to be met with the indictment: “I never knew you. Depart from me you evildoers.”
The Lord is asking for consistency – “truth in advertising”. Gandhi once said that he would have become a Christian if he only would have met one. Too often our lofty words fall short of our sterling intentions. That is why we need witnesses. Christians whose lives reflect the teaching of Christ. I always say it is sad that Gandhi did not live to meet Mother Theresa. Perhaps that would have allowed him to enter the Church to experience someone whose faith life was lived out with such consistency.
Discipleship means following Jesus with the other disciples, living in a community that is Christ’s body, an extension of Christ. Together we have a mission to carry out: to proclaim the Gospel, to teach, to sanctify, to care for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the prisoner, to promote the Gospel of Life, to foster the vocations of marriage, priesthood, consecrated life, the diaconate, lay ministry.
The mission is about building a more just society, a civilization of love, about helping people find the path that leads to God and to salvation.
To be part of Christ’s family we need to embrace the will of the Father as Jesus did. Each day we pray the prayer that He taught us: “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done.” Part of God’s will for us is the obedience to the mission he has entrusted to us.
For this reason I come to you to ask for your support for the annual appeal to support the activities of our Faith Community. It is by making sacrifices that we are able to carry out the works of mercy and evangelization that are the foundation of our mission.
It is not enough to say that we are in favor of the works of mercy, we need to carry them out. Your contributions are an important witness of your love for the Lord and the desire to accomplish the good works He expects of us.
Lip service is not enough for the Lord. Those who say “Lord, Lord,” but who fail to do God’s will are building their home on sand and when the rains fall, the floods come and winds blow, their house will collapse. Building our house on rock means building our lives on the foundation which is Christ the stone rejected by the builders that has become our cornerstone. Our life of prayer and the sacraments along with the witness of faithful Catholics helps us to be faithful disciples. It is in strengthening our parishes and local church that we allow that mission to go forward.
We have all received many blessing and now is an opportunity to express our gratitude to God and our desire to help others to live a life of discipleship. We are here today because generations of Catholics have passed the faith on to us for over 2000 years. Now it is our turn to pass on the light of Christ to the next generation.
The Kingdom of God is spread thru witness and conversion. Each of us must look into our own heart and ask if we are like those who mouth the words “Lord, Lord,” or are we really trying to embrace the Will of Our Heavenly Father. In other words, to do the Will of the Father entails prayerful renunciation of self will, generous compassion and forgiveness toward others, the willingness to receive a new identity in God, solicitude toward the poor and the needy and unmitigated self donation in the face of suffering.
Jesus refers to the wise person who builds his house on rock. Our faith is not about information, but about Good News – the Gospel of Jesus that calls us to abandon sin and selfishness and live lives of love and service. We are called to do this in a community, a family, the Church.
St. Paul in the New Testament is quite involved in taking up a collection among his newly converted Christians to help the Christians living in the Holy Land. The collection had many benefits. It provided much needed sustenance for the members of the Church in Jerusalem who were suffering greatly. It also helped to bind the diverse elements of the Christian community together, with a sense of ownership, community and allowed the mission of Christ to go on in the ministry of Paul and all his collaborators.
Our annual collection also has many dimensions. It allows us as Christ’s family to have a sense of ownership for the works of mercy and evangelization of our Church and it helps us to be connected with each other in a common mission. An important aspect of discipleship is our attitude towards material things. All of our wealth and possessions, like our life itself, belong to our loving God. We must be good stewards of the gifts we receive. Our support for our Church is part of being a faithful disciple of Jesus and good steward of our possessions.
We are all so grateful for all the sacrifices our Catholic people make to support the mission Christ has entrusted to us. No contribution is too small if given with love. Everything we are and all that we have is a gift. We need to find ways to make a return to our loving God. I hope that this opportunity to support the annual appeal will bind us all closer to one another and to Christ and that together we will build our house on the Rock that is Christ, offering hope by sharing God’s gifts.