PORTLAND —“I often remind you in my homilies of our responsibility to care for each other. But today my request to you is going to be a bit different. I want to remind you of the way in which we do the work of the Church together.”
On what would have been Commitment Weekend for the Catholic Appeal in Maine parishes, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated his weekly, Sunday live-streamed Mass from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on May 17.
The purpose of the Catholic Appeal is to help provide funding to carry out the mission of the diocese, namely, to fulfill the call to help those in need and grow the community of praise, worship, and witness that is the Catholic Church. On Commitment Weekend, parishioners are encouraged to submit pledges as they hear about the variety of ministries and programs supported by the Appeal, in many cases, from the very people who benefit as they volunteer to serve as speakers at the Commitment Weekend Masses.
The Appeal provides funding for Catholic Charities Maine; Campus Ministry and Catholic Schools; Hispanic Ministry; Lifelong Faith Formation; Harvest, the official magazine of the diocese; Hospital Chaplaincy; and many other programs and ministries. The Appeal also provides for the care of priests who are on medical leave, ensuring their salary, health insurance, and pension continue while they are not serving at a parish. Some of these ministries provide services beyond the scope of individual parishes and some exist for the sole purpose of assisting parishes in their own mission to teach, evangelize and serve.
“We are engaged not only in our own acts of goodness and kindness for others. We are also engaged in our corporate works, those we do together – the works of the Church in charity, in faith formation, in education, in care for the sick and dying,” said the bishop. “Out of our wish to share our hope with others, we do these works together. That is the work of the Church. It is us, together, moved by the Spirit of Jesus, to bring the love of the Father he came to show us, to others so that they, too, might know the love of God we know in Jesus. And that work is what the Catholic Appeal makes possible.”
Due to the pandemic, what was impossible this year was describing, face to face, the many good and crucial works that rely on Appeal funding. Those wishing to support the mission of the Church were asked to do so online at any time by visiting portlanddiocese.org/Appeal.
“I fully understand that times are going to be tough this year, and many who have contributed in the past will not be able to do it. The economic losses are staggering both for individuals and the country. For those unable to contribute, I ask for your prayers. The works funded by the Appeal are the mission of the Church. Pray for its success,” said Bishop Deeley.
The theme of the 2020 Appeal is “Walk Daily with Jesus,” a call to journey together to discover, follow, and share Jesus with those we encounter in life, a fair assessment of the mission of the Church and the Appeal itself.
“The Appeal makes a difference in countless ways, from giving our children a foundation in their faith to providing our seniors with an arm to lean on. Your gift helps teens experience the joy of Christ in their lives and brings Christ’s presence to our secular college campuses. It allows chaplains to be at hospital bedsides, a work which has been so important in this pandemic. It helps us to feed those who are hungry and to care for those who are in need. In sum, it brings the hope of the Gospel to life,” said the bishop. “The Mass reminds us that God is close to us. He cares for us. We know that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It gives us hope in difficult times, and a reason for joy each day. As we gather in thanksgiving today in this Mass, I ask your consideration that you might help me in carrying on the mission that Jesus gives us all to bring his love to others.”
That mission is always renewed in the celebration of Mass, even via livestream and at the most difficult times.
“This is one reason why the Church calls all of us — her children — together on the Lord’s Day: not only to be united with God through Holy Communion, but also to be united more strongly with each other,” the bishop told the online participants. “The community which is the Church, the Body of Christ, carries on the work of the apostles, and makes known the wonderful Good News that Jesus came to proclaim. God loves each of us and calls us to do the same for each other. In the opening sentence of the Gospel today we hear Jesus say, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’ We know well what those commandments ask of us. ‘Love one another as I love you.’
To donate or to learn more about the Catholic Appeal in Maine, including detailed descriptions of the funding process and the programs and ministries benefitting, visit the special Appeal section website at portlanddiocese.org/Appeal.