In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has urged Catholics to reach out to the people on the peripheries of society to share with them God’s mercy. The 2016 Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries is asking the people of the Diocese of Nashville to provide financial support for the diocesan ministries and programs that carry on so many works of mercy.
“We encounter Jesus in those we serve: the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the imprisoned, the children, the elderly, those seeking a closer relationship with God, and in those who show us mercy,” according to Bishop Choby. “The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries provides to us a way to serve those in need and gives us opportunities to be merciful. … It allows us to encounter God’s goodness, love and grace when we serve others, through acts of mercy, service and sacrifice.”
The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries supports a wide range of ministries in the diocese, including service to the poor, Catholic education, lay ministry formation, pastoral outreach, youth ministry, and more.
“Every effort and every program in the Diocese of Nashville reflects, in some powerful way, Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy being extended through God’s grace,” Bishop Choby said. “The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries supports those programs and ministries that reflect God’s goodness and mercy toward us.”
The largest recipient of funds raised during the Appeal is Catholic Charities of Tennessee, which provides material assistance to the poor, job training, support for refugees fleeing oppression and persecution in their home countries, counseling for youth and adults, and other services.
The diocese and Catholic Charities have launched initiatives to help the homeless, noted William Whalen, chief financial officer of the diocese. “With more donations, we would be able to do more,” he said.
Adult formation programs and the Catholic Youth Office and SEARCH program also benefit from the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, as does campus ministry in the diocese, Whalen said.
|A client at Catholic Charities of Tennessee’s Senior Enrichment Center, a licensed adult day program, enjoys spending time with a playful puppy. Nashville Humane Association volunteers occasionally bring a puppy to visit with the clients. Catholic Charities and its many programs are the largest recipient of funds collected during the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries. The 2016 Appeal begins Feb. 1. Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of Tennessee
University Catholic, which serves students at Vanderbilt University, recently has expanded its outreach to students at Lipscomb University and Belmont University, where a Mass is now celebrated on Sundays.
With increased contributions, Bishop Choby is looking to expand the program at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Whalen said.
“We’re thankful our Catholic community has responded and both donations and participation in the Appeal have increased,” Whalen said. “At the same time, the needs in our Catholic community continue to expand.
“Our plea is for more people to provide some gift and for those who have supported the appeal in the past to give a little bit more,” he added. “If we all provide a little, we can achieve a lot.”
The goal for the 2016 Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries is $1.95 million. The Appeal begins on Feb. 1, 2016, and continues through Jan. 31, 2017.
The 2015 Appeal ends the weekend of Jan. 30 -31 and people can still complete their pledge or make a new donation before starting the new Appeal, Whalen noted.
The 2016 Appeal will kick off with Announcement Weekend Jan. 30-31. Pastors have been asked to speak about the Appeal and to read a letter to their parishioners from Bishop Choby during the weekend’s Masses.
Feb. 6-7 will be Pledge/Appeal Weekend. Pledge cards will be distributed at the weekend Masses and parishioners will be asked to make a pledge. Follow-up weekend Feb. 13-14, will give parishioners another opportunity to make a pledge and turn in their pledge cards.
A letter with information about the Appeal also will be mailed to past donors, Whalen said.
Pledges can be placed in the collection basket at Mass, turned in to the parish, or mailed to the diocesan offices at 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214, Whalen said.
After receiving the pledges, the diocese will send out regular statements itemizing payments toward the pledge and the remaining balance, Whalen said.
The theme for this year’s Appeal is taken from St. Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 15:3: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received.”
“Jesus taught with love,” Bishop Choby said. “It is love that called the disciples into service, and love that calls us to serve one another. In these acts of love we find mercy.”