Giving and answering Christ’s call

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave the apostles a mandate: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20). Two-thousand years later, the mission field is as vast as ever, and one of the ways you can respond is through the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.

As the appeal gets underway in the more than 100 parishes of the archdiocese this weekend, I would like to share with you some of the ways we strive to satisfy those who are spiritually and materially in need.

It is important that you know how the money collected in the appeal is spent and the life-changing impact our ministries have. Through your generosity, the homeless have been sheltered and the hungry fed. This past year, over 200,000 homeless men, women and children had a place to sleep at Samaritan House or one of our other shelters, and 732,000 meals were served to the hungry.

Besides providing material necessities for the poor and vulnerable, the Church offered religious education classes for 36,000 children. Our Catholic school system, which educates 9,000 students and provides an environment that encourages the faith, is also financially supported by the appeal.

Your donation also helps fund the formation of the future priests of our archdiocese. We are blessed to have over 60 men currently studying to become priests for the Archdiocese of Denver, and they need your support.

These are only a few examples of the ministries and services the appeal makes possible.

But there is another dimension to giving that is sometimes overlooked. When we give the best of what God has given us, it opens our hearts and the hearts of those who receive our charity to greater conversion.

This is what the early Christians experienced as they sought to live out Christ’s call to love one another. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that “all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. … And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

The challenge presented to all of us by Christ’s new commandment to make disciples is to go beyond making a donation and to listen for the other ways that God is calling us to make disciples. These include acts of charity, helping those in need spiritually, and sharing with them our encounter with Jesus Christ.

Before a person is able to hear and accept the good news that Christ has died for them and longs to save them from their sins, it is often necessary to address their physical needs, to bind up their wounds. We are called to accompany them in their encounter with Jesus through our charity. Then, they will be more open to receiving the love that Jesus wishes to pour into their hearts.

As you prayerfully consider supporting those in need through the Appeal, I ask you to also consider what other ways you will respond to Jesus’ call to make disciples. I want to express my sincere thanks for all the ways so many of you have already done so. Without your commitment to Christ and his Church, much of the good work done in the archdiocese would be impossible. May God bless your generosity one-hundred-fold!

Featured image by Anya Semenoff

COMING UP: That dollar goes further than you think

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That dollar goes further than you think

Annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal benefits parishes, nearly 40 ministries and much more

It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself every year: how far does that money you give to the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal really go?

Or another: Will it really make a difference if I give to the ACA or not?

Well, we have answers for you: Really far, and yes, it makes all the difference in the world.

The Annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal officially launches April 14 and as parishioners will see in the video that plays at their parish, it’ll be a bit different this year – we won’t spoil it for you, but we think you’ll like it.

The ACA benefits nearly 40 ministries within the Archdiocese of Denver, each of which play a crucial part in the operation of the Catholic Church in northern Colorado as a whole.

As Father Dollins, Vicar General for the archdiocese, puts it, it does fund some of the less glamorous parts of Church administration, but in doing so, it supports all ministries and allows them to focus on doing what they were created to do: namely, ministering to people and leading them to Christ.

Additionally, “there’s a lot of aspects of the diocese that don’t have the means to do their own fundraising and probably shouldn’t spend time trying to do their own fundraising,” Father Dollins said. “The ministry should be able to just be the ministry.”

Each parish has an ACA fundraising goal based on the total annual offertory for the parish. However, funds raised from the ACA have the potential to benefit parishes, too. A two-level parish rebate program was implemented several years ago as an incentive for parishes to encourage parishioners to give to the ACA.

“If everyone’s pulling to give to their parish, not only are they giving to the nearly 40 ministries, but at a certain level, a percentage goes back to the parish and helps them as well,” Father Dollins explained. “It’s a win for the whole diocese and for the whole parish.”

If a parish exceeds their goal for the ACA, 50 cents of every dollar raised after that goes back to the parish. For the parishes that have a harder time meeting their goal, they also have the opportunity for a rebate if they beat the amount of money raised for the ACA the previous year. If they do that, they get 25 cents of every dollar raised after that number.

New features to this year’s ACA include the nine Choir of Angels giving levels, which designates different levels of giving with an angelic title. Additionally, the online giving option has been fine-tuned to provide the same convenience as the most popular online payment systems and makes it easier for those who would like to work an ACA donation into their monthly budget. In fact, Father Dollins encourages people to switch to giving year-round instead of the traditional five months.

“Why not make the ACA a recurring monthly gift that fits into the way you do the rest of your budget?” he said.

We get it – Catholics are asked to give a lot throughout the course of any given year, and it’s easy to see the ACA as just another ask that bears no significance. However, for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver, it’s important to see the needs of the larger Church and how far that dollar actually goes.

“It’s really easy to be focused on ‘me’ and tithing at your own parish, but [we are all] part of a larger Church that has expansive needs,” Father Dollins said. “I might be in a small town that doesn’t have a need to feed the poor, but the Cathedral does. I can’t necessarily help the poor where I’m at, but the Church is a lot bigger than my one location.”

Featured image by Nissa LaPoint