| The Long Island Catholic Vol. 49, No. 42 | BISHOP WILLIAM MURPHY
Last week on two cold evenings Msgr. Robert Morrissey and I sallied forth to receptions organized in support of this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA). First here at St. Agnes in Rockville Centre and two evenings later at St. Philip Neri in Northport, more than 75 persons each evening braved the cold to hear the story of what we as a diocese are doing to build up the Church for us all, to provide for the future and to make us as Church a contributor to the good of our communities and to the larger world.
The CMA “story” is your story, not mine. That is why it is so easy for me to tell it and why, when I do, I find myself getting fired up time and again because it is a snapshot of the Church of this diocese as I have come to know and love it.
One of the few advantages of being bishop is that I regularly get to see more of what is going on in the diocese and in our parishes and programs than most anyone else on Long Island. Most every week the five women and four men who make up the administrative or pastoral “cabinet” of the diocese meet with me to share what is going on in the various sectors of the diocese. This not only keeps us up to date with a fresh overview, it gives us the opportunity of finding ways to collaborate together and leverage the many diocesan and parish projects and commitments to make them as fruitful as our efforts can so do. It equally is a time to pray together, conscious as we all are that prayer is the life blood that nourishes our every effort and constantly enlivens what we try to do with the necessary strength of the Holy Spirit.
Good as this is, it becomes “alive” for me when I can go to a diocesan high school and spend time with some of the most exciting and committed young men and women anyone can know. The atmosphere in the classrooms is great. I love teaching a class or having an interchange with the students on any and every topic imaginable. Then when you see their art fairs, their television work, their commitment to ecology plus their sports activities, music and outreach to teach religious education in parishes, you begin to see what is really going on: the formation of tomorrow’s leaders both for the Church and for the wider community.
As you know I was on retreat last month with 23 of our seminarians. There again the seminary is alive. The men are totally committed to the Church and the faculty that works with them equally committed to helping them test their call, certify that their vocation is genuine and help them grow to the maturity they will need to serve our people and lead our parishes in the years ahead. That same seminary in Huntington is the place where each year, a new class of aspirants to the permanent diaconate begins their four year course of study to be ordained for service to the parishes. It is the place where lay women and men come to prepare themselves for masters’ degrees in theology and pastoral practice. It is what the pope calls it, “the heart of the diocese.”
Nothing more identifies your concern and your commitment than parish outreach. The parish outreach programs across our diocese are the concrete expressions of your very real response to Christ’s call to show our love of neighbor by our special care for the poor, the needy, those who may need long term or short term help for themselves and their families. In the current economic situation, all our parishes have seen a significant increase in the demands made on our outreach programs, an increase of up to 20 and 30 percent. Those programs have a back up organization that is the pride of this local Church: Catholic Charities. Thanks to Catholic Charities soon we will be blessing a new housing project in Coram. I have already blessed housing for the elderly and for those who are developmentally challenged. Catholic Charities has been the major provider of programs that last year delivered 550,000 meals to the elderly, that cared for single mothers and their children, that is the place of last resort for many without any means, that helps families over tough times and makes life beautiful for those who otherwise would face the challenges of life alone.
Finally as my brother bishops and I go from parish to parish, we see how the formation of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, musicians and lectors enhances the worship of every parish community. We see how the formation of Directors of Religious Education and the ongoing preparation of volunteer catechists have such an important impact on the parish of today for the Church of tomorrow. And to visit any one of our Catholic elementary schools is a lesson in why the message of Jesus Christ is the best gift we can ever pass on, for it is the best message on how to live one’s life for this world and for the next.
My friends, I could go on and on. (And I admit, sometimes I do.) But my point is a simple one. All these and so much more depend on your generous contribution to the Catholic Ministries Appeal. The CMA is the single annual appeal the diocese makes for funds to be distributed to education, formation, parish life, Catholic Charities, special ministries like campus ministry and special communities like the Catholics of African Ancestry and the Hispanic Apostolate. My happy task and responsibility is always to say THANK YOU for your generosity. With that thank you comes an annual appeal: PLEASE HELP! Continue your generosity of the past and, if possible in these difficult times, increase it even a little bit. If you have not given and can afford to help, please do so even if you think your contribution may be small. Every contribution is a big one if, as my mother always told me, we make it with a good heart.
If you want to see this year’s video on the CMA, please visit our website, www.catholicministriesappeal.org. And please, please, if you can help, we know how grateful the people we serve will be. I know how grateful I will be. But most importantly, how grateful the Lord will be for He blesses our every effort, knows the generosity of our hearts and supports us as we seek to support one another in building up the Church and through the Church, building up the Kingdom by being His hands and His heart for all our brothers and sisters.