Appeal for Vocations raises more than $1 million
Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) - Each year, members of the diocese are asked to help support the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations, an annual appeal that helps finance the education of seminarians from the Lincoln Diocese.
This year, the fund saw donations of over a million dollars, well surpassing its $800,000 goal.
Last year’s appeal saw a big jump in donations from the previous year with the introduction of pledge cards in the parishes, and this year saw new additions to the giving process as well. Thanks to the introduction of online and mobile giving, people were able to donate more easily.
Father Eric Clark, the director of the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations, said that the appeal received 409 gifts online, and 49 through the mobile application.
A different online giving site had been used in the past, but it was harder to work with than PaymentSpring, the Nelnet-owned company used this year. Father Clark said working with a local company made the process much easier.
This year’s appeal participation rate fell from 24 to 22 percent, but Father Clark was encouraged by the fact that the average gift rose from $152 to $179. He said that the most important goal for next year is to see an increase in participation in the appeal.
“I hope every household sees the need for future priests,” Father Clark said.
As part of the appeal, each parish has an individual fundraising goal. Of the 132 parishes in the diocese, 100 reached at least 95 percent of their goal.
“That’s really owed to the dedication of the pastors who recognize the gift of seminarians in our diocese, and the hope that our seminarians give to the people of the diocese,” Father Clark said.
The top parishes were measured by the percent of funds raised over their goal, and Father Clark was impressed to discover that the top 22 parishes are all considered rural parishes, a fact that he considers notable since rural communities typically don’t have as much exposure to the number of priests those in larger, Lincoln parishes have.
Father Clark said he believes that this high donation rate can be attributed to the fact that those diocesan members in rural communities know that their parish is there because they have a priest, and he cited Bishop Conley who said, “Our future priests are gifts to the Church.”
Father Clark said, “On behalf of Bishop Conley, he thanks those who have made a gift on behalf of our future church.”
In gratitude: from seminarian Alec Sasse
Theology III student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
A significant part of my vocation to the priesthood can be found in the Sacrament of Confession, and it is there, in that Sacrament, that I experienced the love and mercy of God in a profound way. Each time I would go to Confession, I would enter broken, sinful, and desiring something more from my life. And each time I would leave the Sacrament, I would emerge restored, renewed, and confirmed in my identity: beloved son.
As I frequented the Sacrament, the thought came to my mind: “What would it be like to be on the other side of this screen? What would it be like to offer the mercy of God to people?” That thought persisted, and God began to reveal to me His plan for my life. The Sacrament of Confession is remarkable because we can see in it, as St. John Paul II put it, “the power of grace working through human limitations.” My vocation is a gift and a mystery: a profound gift offered to a weak man, and a beautiful mystery revealing the love of God for His Church.
St. John Paul II said: “If we take a close look at what men and women expect from priests, we will see that, in the end, they have but one great expectation: they are thirsting for Christ.” I want to help bring Christ to the people of the Diocese of Lincoln, and I know that means I must be holy. St. John Paul II also said, “Christ needs holy priests! Today’s world demands holy priests! Only a holy priest can become, in an increasingly secularized world, a resounding witness to Christ and his Gospel.” In the midst of a difficult time in the life of the Church and the lives of priests, I think I speak for all of my brother seminarians when I say that we’ve found a rekindled desire to be the holy priests, the virtuous men the people of God desire and deserve.
But, we can’t do this alone. We rely heavily on your prayers, your support, and your financial assistance. On behalf of all the seminarians, I want to sincerely thank all of you who generously gave to this year’s Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations. Your generosity and your gifts enable my brother seminarians and me to follow God’s calling to be, as St. John Paul II put it, a “witness and instrument of Divine Mercy.” Pray for us, pray for your priests, and be assured of our prayers for all of you.