Mission driven or maintenance driven? This is an important question for all of us. In other words, do we keep doing what we have always done and in the way we have always done it? Or do we step out in faith allowing Jesus to stretch us as we embrace life as his disciple, his living witness in the world?
Let us return to the Diocesan Priority Plan as a reminder of our sacred mission described in this way. “We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.”
This mission should drive everything we do — all pastoral ministry, all parish
ministry, and all sacramental ministry. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes similarly outlined this same mission: “Inspired by no earthly
ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give
witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.”
Our Diocesan Priority Plan points our way as we “carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit.” As we all know, essential resources are needed to allow the Diocese of Rapid City to be mission driven rather than maintenance driven. Some of these resources come from the Annual Diocesan Appeal.
In my pastoral letter for the Diocesan Priority Plan, Through Him, With Him and In Him, I shared these words. “Funding the mission of Jesus Christ means that we are a community of believers who seek to live our lives for the Gospel and for others. We therefore embrace this mutually shared vision for the sake of building Christ’s kingdom.”
The 2018 Annual Diocesan Appeal took place the weekend of November 18-19 with an in-pew solicitation, asking you to give generously. This year’s theme is “ … who else will give? . . .The people rejoiced … for they had given to the Lord wholeheartedly” (1 Chronicles 29:5,9).
This is an invitation for every Catholic family across the diocese to prayerfully consider what the Lord is asking of them. When we reflect upon what the Lord has done for us, we realize that he will never be outdone in generosity. And when we give to the Lord wholeheartedly, we imitate his generosity to us.
This year’s annual appeal goal of $1,491,000 represents approximately 37.6 percent of the total diocesan budget. The remainder comes from outside granting sources and other revenues. This is why your support is invaluable for us to carry forward the mission of Jesus Christ. We really do want to live as disciples of Jesus with hearts that are “mission driven.” This is the call of the Gospel!
Over the last many years, three of ten families share a gift in the annual appeal. Imagine what could happen if more Catholic families partnered with us in the mission of Jesus! Imagine if this number increased to 40, 50, 70, 80 percent participation! All families are invited to participate. Some families may feel they are not able to give, but I believe that most all families can find a way to participate in some way. All gifts, large or small, make a difference and touch the lives of the people we serve throughout the diocese.
Generous disciples are never afraid of running out or fearful of not having enough. They live in faith, gratitude and — trusting that God will always provide. Generous disciples realize that God feels responsible for us, even though we are sinners; that God will never be outdone in generosity; that God has invited each of us into his way of life, into his way of being, into his way of generosity.
When we live God’s way of life, we live in the very image of God himself, in whom we have been created. We look and act just like God.
In other words, we view and live life through the lens of abundance instead of scarcity, a lens of provider instead of provision, a lens of gracious giving instead of fearful giving.
We experience God as giving, the moment our hearts say “yes” to Gods desire for relationship with us, giving abundantly to us, endlessly pouring out in His gifts a love greater than our hearts can fathom.
Generosity puts our lives in the proper order. Living a generous life sets us free. We are no longer possessed by what we have and therefore, are free to give it away. This fills us, not with secular happiness, but with true Christian joy — “… who else will give? … The people rejoiced … for they had given to the Lord wholeheartedly.”
Over the years, I have discovered this truth — when we step out in faith and generosity, amazing things happen. “When we accept our lives as sheer gifts, the Spirit can use us as apt instruments for spreading the Gospel. Wherever the Spirit works, there is joy.” (“Pastoral Letter on Stewardship: A Disciples Response”)
The Annual Diocesan Appeal is an important way in which every Catholic family can serve one another sacrificially, thereby helping to build up the body of Christ in western South Dakota. Your sacrificial support is important to us, deeply valued and necessary for us to love as mission driven people. The Lord has given us all different gifts, but calls each of us to the same sacrifice. This is why the heart of stewardship is spiritual.
Please prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in this regard. Please be generous in pledging both your financial support and your prayers for the mission of our great diocese, so that together we may “rejoice, for we have given to the Lord wholeheartedly.”
May God bless you and your families!