The Annual Appeal to Catholics
A Big Family of Parishes. Of course, although our experience of the Catholic Church is first and foremost through our local parish, each faith community is not a Church unto itself. We are a living cell, united to other parishes throughout the San Diego and Imperial Counties- one of 99 parishes.
Shepherds. United with them in our common Catholic faith we form what is called a diocese, a Local Church. Our bishop, Bishop McElroy is the chief shepherd of our diocese, responsible for the souls of over one million local Catholics, including yours and mine! There are 2167 dioceses in the world held together in unity and charity through the mission and ministry of Pope Francis. 1 billion, 254 million members of the Catholic Church through the world!
Sheepfolds. Each year locally, every parish in our diocese, like muscles of a body working together, demonstrates the ability to coordinate with other parishes in a unique feat of strength. No one part of the body of the diocese is able to take on the entire burden. In fact, all parts of the body need to coordinate in order to contribute to the mission and ministry of Christ and his Church.
Our desert flock. To make this happen, we first give attention to the part of our Local Church which finds itself continually feeling the strain. We have twelve parishes in the Imperial Valley. This area has the highest concentration of Catholics, the lowest per capita income and the greatest unemployment figure in our local Church. (I know this area well having been a priest there, first in Calexico within stone's throw of the border with Mexico, and as a pastor of a farmers parish in Brawley not far from the Salton Sea. Our brothers and sisters there need our support to help build churches and provide resources for their pastors to be effective in their ministry.)
Pastors and Apprentices. All our priests are in need of your support and encouragement so that our ministry can be effective and enduring throughout our diocese. That support begins at the local level. Our own parish has been the starting post of a number of fine men who have responded to discerning Christ's call to them to be priests. In these past years we have seen four men from St. Margaret's, ordained to the priesthood - two presently serving in our diocese and two further afield. Our parish also hails three seminarians, one presently studying for our diocese and two studying for with religious orders. Our support for them in prayer and practical help continue to afford them the proper environment to test out their vocation to the priesthood, be it in the seminary, the college or the parish church.
Hungry Lambs and Newborns. Another area of our Local Church body which needs continual support is the organization we call Catholic Charities. Every year almost 300,000 of our brothers and sisters, from every part of our diocese, are given practical assistance for food, clothing, and shelter- what we call in our Catholic tradition, the “Corporal Works of Mercy”. This work is ongoing as God’s mercy is everlasting.
Protecting the Family. However, a body is only as strong as its defenses are. In a world where we too often experience the effects of sin and find ourselves vulnerable to many attacks from every side, our mind must always be kept sharp, our heart should find comfort and our soul must always be nourished. This goes hand in hand with helping young couples in particular with their preparation for marriage. The diocese provides workshops, presentations, and retreats to help men and women marry well and to create the environment necessary for stable and wholesome family life to begin.
Teaching the Faith. Of course, like anybody, we are always growing and learning how to adapt to ever-changing surroundings. We are often challenged to explain and defend our way of life and our faith. Our investment in Catholic education is essential in providing support for Catholic schools, training the catechists and teachers to ensure our Catholic identity is strong and credible.
Doing Our Part. Each parish in the diocese, small or large, rich or poor, is asked to contribute their energy to furthering these goals. Naturally each parish, like that muscle in the body, has a particular function. Each parish gives of itself accordingly to an assessment of its own strength and ability towards our Annual Catholic Appeal.
Support the Annual Catholic Appeal. One person makes a difference, one parish cooperating with others, one Church continuing the mission and ministry of Christ.
Father Cávana Wallace
Pastor of Saint Margaret's, Oceanside
to send us a token of that support, wherever you are.