by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr
Eight students at Wright State University came into the Catholic Church this past Easter with the help of Campus Ministry. Six men and six women ministered to by our archdiocesan Prison Ministry also came into the Catholic Church last spring. On Dec. 26, I myself had the joy of conferring the rites of baptism and confirmation at the Lebanon Correctional Facility in Warren County.
In 2019, nine seminarians were ordained to preach and administer the sacraments as priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the largest ordination class for the local Church in four decades.
Catholic Charities Southwest Ohio and Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley served more than 5 million meals to people who otherwise might have gone hungry. And Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley continues to lead efforts in disaster recovery in the wake of tornadoes that ripped through Dayton.
What all this otherwise-unrelated good news of 2019 has in common is that each achievement was made possible in part by generous contributors to the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA) – and that is only part of what the ministries funded by the CMA do.
CMA-supported ministries help the most vulnerable among us every day, including expectant mothers, the elderly, those with mental health challenges, refugees, the sick and families. In addition to Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services; Campus, Hospital and Prison Ministries; and the Seminary and Vocations, those ministries include St. Rita School for the Deaf; Retired Archdiocesan Priests and Senior Clergy; and New Evangelization programming to share our love of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message.
The CMA ministries together help to meet not only the material needs of God’s people, but the spiritual and educational ones as well. That kind of charity has been part of the Christian mission since apostolic days. St. Paul collected funds for the poor and for the Church of Jerusalem during his missionary journeys. While that may seem unremarkable today, it was unique in the ancient world. Until then, it was unheard of for individuals to help others they did not personally know. St. Paul and his collaborators in mission did so because they saw Christ in those in need.
The episcopal motto I chose when I became a bishop is “Seek the Face of the Lord,” from which the title of this column is drawn. Christians have always practiced acts of charity – notably the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy – because they see the face of Christ in others.
The theme for this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal, Together for the Faith of the Gospel, reflects the reality that together we can do so much more for others in spiritual and material need than we can do as individuals acting alone. Nor could any of the ministries of the local Church survive without our combined contributions of time, talent and treasure.
The local Church is the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, with its 450,000 members. However, we join together as a worshipping community in our parishes. For that reason, the CMA collection is parish-based. Parishes that raise more than their goal each year receive back half of the excess to support their own ministries. In 2019, for example, 90 parishes met or exceeded their goal, causing a total of $330,000 to be remitted to them.
More than 24,000 families participated in the CMA last year. I am deeply grateful for their generosity. But consider how much more good work the ministries involved could do if even 2,000 or 4,000 more families contributed!
With that in mind, I invite you to donate to the CMA this year, especially if you have not done so in the past. No gift is too small. Through the CMA, we can make a big difference in the lives of others Together for the Faith of the Gospel.