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