Diocesan News

Annual Charity and Stewardship Appeal Supports Diocesan Parishes, Programs

(SNR) - For nearly four decades, Catholics throughout the diocese have contributed to a number of important programs while supporting their own local parishes through the annual Charity and Stewardship Appeal (CSA).

Preparations are underway for the launch of the 40th annual drive now, with chairpersons meeting with parish organizers to share the many accomplishments that are funded through the CSA.

Over the years, 17 different diocesan-wide ministries have been supported through CSA funding. These have included the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, the Newman Center, Catholic Social Services, Saint Gregory the Great Seminary and more. This year, two beneficiaries are featured: Saint Gianna’s Women’s Homes and Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat Center.

This is the first year Saint Gianna’s Women’s Homes has been included in the list of beneficiaries.

Every parish in the diocese also gains much-needed financial help for projects ranging from Catholic education to building maintenance to retiring debt.

Each parish has a set goal. All contributions exceeding the parish goal are returned 100% to the parish.

Dan and Barb Schepers of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Minden share the chairperson role with Gary and Marlene Beyke of Saint Joseph Parish in Lincoln. The Schepers believe that the CSA is very important to every Catholic in the diocese because of the wide array of projects and ministries that are supported by the funds.

“For us, it’s part of being active in our diocese,” Mr. Schepers explained. “This is part of being Catholic – working for local parishes, supporting our diocese as a whole, helping others…”

“Contributing to this appeal helps our diocese carry out Christ’s mission on earth, to teach, to preach, to serve...” added Mrs. Schepers.

Both couples believe that each and every Catholic in the diocese receives something back from the programs supported by CSA funding, whether it is the local help provided to parishes or opportunities such as natural family planning education or the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes.

“This is a great way for parishes, especially the smaller rural parishes to have a means of doing projects in their parishes,” reasoned Mrs. Beyke. “The campaign plays a very large role in helping to support the schools.”

She noted that her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren have all enjoyed the privilege of attending Catholic schools.

Mr. Schepers offered other examples.

“Catholic Social Services covers the whole diocese,” he said. “The Newman Center works for the good all across the diocese – We have students from all our parishes going to Lincoln, and we have to have something to meet them as Catholic students.”

As Mrs. Beyke works for the Newman Center, she has first-hand knowledge of how effective this ministry is. She noted several examples of recent events for university students.

“During our Eurcharstic Procession, 300 students walked to three locations on the UNL campus,” she said. “On Ash Wednesday, there are five Masses with standing room only. And, we currently have about 90 Bible studies with the Fellowship of Catholic Univeristy Students – students ministering to students.”

These 19 programs do have individual benefactors, but because of their wide reach, they need and deserve the support of every household in the diocese.

Frankly, Mr. Schepers said, “We would not be giving money to all these things if there was not this one donation.”

Every year, the diocese has been blessed to see a continuing increase in the average CSA contribution per household, despite lingering concerns about unemployment rates and rising costs.

“It is the bigger picture that we have to look at,” stressed Mrs. Beyke. “As you see the magnitude of the projects and the amount of the funding that is returned to the parishes, all of the people of the diocese see this as a way to help.”

“The economy in Nebraska is not suffering as much as on the coasts,” Mr. Schepers said. “People are still being very generous.”

“Times are tough,” Mrs. Schepers reasoned, “but there is always that desire to give back to the Church… This is our opportunity to give to Christ’s mission on earth.”

Each parish participates in the CSA. For more information, contact your pastor or parish office. Monetary donations can also be mailed to The Bishop Bruskewitz Charity and Stewardship Appeal (DDP), P.O. Box 80328, Lincoln, NE, 68501-0328.

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