We are all we have, a message from Bishop O’Connell

new_bishopAs Bishop of the Diocese, I hear it said at times that “all the Church is interested in is money.”

Anyone who is really familiar with the works of the Catholic Church knows that is not true.  But, anyone who lives in this world knows that important works with significant results require support: the support of prayer, the support of talented, hard-working people’s efforts, the support of good people’s generosity.

Priests and bishops all wish that we didn’t have to ask for money. It is never comfortable or easy for us.  Yet we know that what the Church does to preach and share the Gospel and our Catholic faith – to make the Gospel and our faith real and concrete – requires turning to good and generous people for their “time, talent and treasure.”

We don’t ask for ourselves.  But we have to ask.

The simple, plain fact of life is that doing the work of the Church in the world requires financial resources.  Running our Catholic schools and parishes, operating our Catholic Churches and facilities, helping the poor and needy among us, offering human services like Catholic Charities, providing for the growing numbers of retired priests who have served us all throughout the Diocese, training new priests to take their place all require asking for money.

The costs associated with these Church related activities never diminish or grow less. The same is true in our families, as we all know.

Anyone who has ever gone to a college or university or who has sent their children there, no doubt, has the experience of constant mail from the alumni or development offices of their alma maters seeking donations and support.  I know that well as a former university president.  Where else can they turn but to their alumni who have benefitted from the education they received.

Growing up in a middle-class family with four sons, I learned quickly that every dollar counts.  There were things we wanted but just could not afford.  Most times, these were not luxuries or extras – they were necessities, “the basics” and my parents sacrificed so much so that we kids would not go or do without.

I can remember one Christmas when the only gift they could exchange with each other was a new pair of work pants for my father. I watched my Dad work long hours to provide for us and hand over his paycheck to my Mom.  He was heroic and I often regret that I might not have thanked him and my Mom adequately for all they did for us.  But I know they never regretted it, not for a moment.

My parents are both gone.  As I grow older, however, I realize that the best way I can thank them now is to follow their example by doing and giving and being there for others when they need me.

The Church is like a big family.  We depend upon each other, not for luxuries but for “the basics” required to keep faith and hope and love alive.

Where else can we turn to make it all work?  We only have one another in our parishes, in our Diocese.  We have nowhere else to go.  Money isn’t all we are interested in.  But, again, we have to ask.

“Time. Talent. Treasure.”  Yes, the Church needs us to give all three … and to pray for God’s grace. Without our generous and loving support, the Church cannot give all that it has to offer, all that we need.  As your Bishop, I share these thoughts with you only asking that you think about them.  God has been so good to us.  Made in his image, let’s do the same for one another.  That’s what the Church is all about.