Some 30,000 Catholics this year pledged their support to the Diocese of Phoenix Charity and Development Appeal, the lifeblood of some 70 organizations that assists families and individuals in need throughout Arizona.
As a way of saying thanks, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares hosted a dinner Nov. 19 at the Phoenix Convention Center for the 1,400 donors — known as the Society of the Miter — who contributed more than $1,000 to the annual appeal. These gifts made up more than half the $8.8 million raised this year.[quote_box_right]
The CDA supports over 70 community and charitable organizations that assist individuals and families in need or in crisis.
Irene and Sonny Quiñonez from Christ the King Parish in Mesa were two of the 500 in attendance. They sported nametags that showed the annual dinner was a first for them, and they were quick to express why they support the appeal.
“There are so many agencies and a small parish cannot do it by themselves,” Sonny said. “We have to look at the total picture and that’s where the diocese comes into play.”
“There are so many organizations that are in need of our help and we have to do something,” Irene said. “We can’t just serve at our own church — we have to provide for the entire Church.”
Bishop Nevares told the crowd that he’d just returned from a visit to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio. Seminarians from the Phoenix Diocese receive support from the CDA for their studies.
“I was visiting 16 seminarians who are supported by your great generosity — 16 young, zealous, inspirational young men, maybe some from your own parish, who are striving to live the Gospel and are preparing themselves to come back to the Diocese of Phoenix to be holy priests,” Bishop Nevares said.
Bishop Olmsted said donors were living out their love of God through stewardship.
“You are here because you have a deep love of Jesus Christ and the Church,” Bishop Olmsted said. “When you’re in a room with those who really live stewardship, it’s such an energizing experience because we are with people whose love of Christ is so evident just by the joy that exudes from them.”
Fr. Gregory Schlarb, vicar of stewardship for the diocese, said that stewardship was part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said, ‘I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ But discipleship is not an easy way,” Fr. Schlarb said. “The Lord’s way is not a way of comfortable living.”
Attendees were treated to a sneak-peek of the 2015 CDA video that will be shown in all parishes next year. They also heard from Fernando and Josefina Camou, the co-chairs for this year’s CDA. Their son Fernando was ordained to the transitional diaconate in October and will be ordained to the priesthood in June of 2015. Funds from the CDA assisted him in his formation.
In their role as co-chairs, the Camous have visited some of the agencies that receive funds from the CDA. Josefina noted some of the inner city Catholic schools that are helped by the appeal as well as pro-life pregnancy clinics. They also saw people being served at local soup kitchens.
“People go because they are hungry, but they also receive a lot of love there,” Josefina said. “We found caring people in all the agencies we visited.”