Diocesan News

Charity and Stewardship Appeal Reflects ‘New Evangelism’

(SNR) For more than 40 years, Catholics throughout southern Nebraska have contributed to the Diocese of Lincoln’s evangelism efforts through the annual Bishop’s Charity and Stewardship Appeal (CSA).

"This appeal… is the lifeblood of the works of the Church in Southern Nebraska," wrote Bishop James D. Conley in a letter that will be read this month in parishes throughout the diocese.

CSA funding supports 19 different diocesan-wide ministries, as well as every single parish and school.

The monies are used to educate people of all ages in the riches of the Catholic faith, provide important diocesan services such as retreats and Natural Family Planning classes, support retired religious sisters, minister to the hungry, the poor, and other underserved people in both cities and rural areas, and more.

This year’s CSA goal is $1,606,540, with each parish targeting a specified amount. Parishes who reach their goal will receive 40% of their contributions back to use for parish projects. Every dollar over the parish goal is returned to the parish in full.

The rest of the money is divided among diocesan ministries such as Catholic Social Services, St. Gregory the Great Seminary, St. Gianna’s Women’s Homes, Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat Center, and the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

For a parish like St. Andrew in Tecumseh, which also operates an elementary school on its meager annual budget, the CSA is an opportunity to help keep their school running.

Father Thomas Dunavan, pastor, said that the parish’s CSA returns provide about a month’s payroll for St. Andrew School. That’s crucial with less than 30 students enrolled, some of whom receive financial assistance despite affordable tuition.

As he described how important the school is to his parishioners, Father Dunavan reflected on last Sunday’s Gospel reading, during which Jesus instructed St. Peter, "Feed my sheep… tend my lambs… feed my lambs."

"To form the mind and the soul of our young people, parents only have so many years to get that done," he said. "Parents who want their children to be infused with the faith eight hours a day are choosing to have their ‘lambs’ fed and tended in a Catholic school. I think that’s really important."

In addition to deepening their Catholic faith hour by hour and day by day, children at St. Andrew School receive an excellent academic education as well.

"Our staff teaches kids how to study and how to learn," Father Dunavan said.

Thanks to a generous benefactor who provides top-quality hardware and software, each child in grades kindergarten to sixth receives 30 minutes of computer lab time every day, which Father Dunavan speculates is more than average.

With a large proportion of students who do not speak English at home, St. Andrew’s teachers are helping kids close the achievement gap that is common for that population in the public school setting.

In fact, Father Dunavan noted, among the local junior-senior high school students who speak English as a second language and have made the honor role, about two-thirds of them are graduates of St. Andrew School.

He said that the principal, Sister Mary-Ellen Auffert, O.S.B., is currently looking at ways to use the school’s resources to provide English-language education and GED classes to the parents of students, so that the school can reach out to entire families.

"It costs about $100,000 to run our school," Father Dunavan said. "If we were not running a school at Saint Andrew’s, what are we going to do with it? Find one thing that is going to change as many lives."

Beyond Catholic education, though, Father Dunavan said that contributing to the CSA has many more benefits.

"It’s helping the Newman Center. It’s helping pro-life work. It’s helping Catholic Social Services, the Hispanic ministry — you name it. Why not be generous with it?" he said.

Quoting Matthew 28, Father Dunavan added, "Jesus sent us out into the world to ‘baptize all nations, teaching them to observe all I commanded you,’ That’s what the Church is being invited to do… The New Evangelism is something that’s old."

The Bishop’s Charity and Stewardship Appeal, Father Dunavan stated, is "a beautiful gift we are offering our people: the chance to be charitable, and the opportunity to evangelize."

Each parish participates in the CSA. Catholics throughout the diocese can expect to be invited to contribute through bulletin announcements, appeals from their pastors and fellow parishioners.

For more information about the CSA, where the money is used and how you can help, contact your pastor or parish office. Monetary donations can also be mailed to The Bishop’s Charity and Stewardship Appeal (DDP), P.O. Box 80328, Lincoln, NE, 68501-0328.

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