Today the Catholic Church commemorates the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle – patron of the Paulist Fathers. I’ve been invited to preach the Annual Paulist Appeal that supports our lives and ministries here at our church in New York. I will be at two masse this weekend. Tonight at 5:15 and tomorrow Sunday at 8 AM. Other Paulists will be presiding and preaching at other masses. For those who follow me, I wanted to share my best effort. here it is:
Paulist Appeal 2020 by Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.
Most of you know that Saint Paul the Apostle parish is ministered by the Paulist Fathers, the first order of Catholic priests founded in the United States in 1858. Five priests–Isaac Hecker and four others –all converts to Catholicism—insisted we enhance the American Spirit with Catholic sensibilities. Paulists, then and now, strive to keep Catholics sustained in faith, hope and love amidst the strengths of American liberty and diversity and the reality of all human weaknesses.
I am here today for the Annual Paulist Appeal. Once again, asking for your financial support to maintain our lives and collaboration with you, the Catholic faithful. We are grateful to be blessed that so many of you work with us in our service to the Church and society. We hope and pray you do, indeed, appreciate our efforts and are willing and able to offer ongoing financial support.
What do Paulists offer this parish and other parishes, campus ministries and national offices in 15 cities throughout the country? Paulists value practical, relevant preaching. We apply the Gospel to everyday life. We honor dialogue. We listen. We appreciate where people are at.
Established in full devotion to the Holy Spirit, Paulists insist we recognize the good and beautiful in all people. By extension, we affirm the good in all faiths and cultures to lay the groundwork for the loving challenges Faith and true collaboration provide–challenges to ourselves and others to grow deeper in hope, cultivating virtue for our good and the good of our country and our world. As Jesus insisted: “lay a foundation on rock, so when the storms come, our spiritual homes will not be shaken.”
Our Catholic sensibilities reveal compassion as Christ’s foundation. The biblical evidence is abundant: Jesus had insight to the deepest longings in the human heart. Jesus looked upon the crowds with pity. Jesus fed the crowds, inspired the destitute, healed the sick, forgave the hate thrusted upon him on the Cross; offered Peace to those who abandoned Him. As Jesus was moved to compassion for Jew and Gentile alike, so must we be. Paulists model Jesus’ commitment to compassion by dedicating ourselves to the ministry of welcoming and reconciliation. Paulist are healers, offering reconciliation in and outside of the confessional. “Come as you are, for all are welcome.” This is the foundation of Paulist service, so essential in these times when our country and our world have become increasingly factious and divisive.
Paulists have much in common but our devotion to the Holy Spirit insists we attend to the unique individual gifts in each of us. We hope you experience us honoring the uniqueness within each of you. My ministry, for example, is considered unique. I am one of 7 Paulists missionaries to the U.S. — 7 out of the 114 Paulist Fathers worldwide. We visit Catholic parishes a week at a time, preaching at all weekend masses and offering weekday Mass and presentations morning and evenings for spiritual enrichment. My ministry is called Luke Live! – a semi-dramatic recitation of Luke’s Gospel in 4 specific missions that include preaching and Song Meditations (sacred and secular) to keep the Gospel in dialogue with our lives, our culture and contemporary issues.
This Paulist appeal supports three of our National Offices in need of your funding: the uniqueness of Busted Halo –a ministry to young adults (college and post-college) who may or may not be participating in Church life. It’s outreach that assures the new adult generation that the Church is here for them, welcoming and open to dialogue. Furthermore, YOU were the ones who inspired this outreach as so many of you came to us saying, “Help us get our college and post-college kids back to Church!”
Busted Halo has two platforms: a website BustedHalo.com with articles, videos and podcasts (and a talented lay staff of 4 extraordinary talented young adult women plus host of freelance writers) and a 2 hour weeknight program Monday through Friday on Sirius Radio’s Catholic Channel, produced and hosted by Fr. Dave Dwyer, who often presides and preaches here.
Your contributions will also support Openings, our NYC outreach to artists of all faiths, offering support and dialogue focused on the spiritual underpinnings of art and creativity, shepherded by Paulist Frank Sabatté, an artist himself. See his embroideries of Isaac Hecker, Saint Bernadette on back walls before you go. The third ministry is called LANDINGS International–-designed to train and support lay parishioners to welcome “on the fence Catholics” who need friendship and support as they consider returning to the sacramental life in the Church. Their numbers are legion.
We also need your support in more practical matters, the care of seniors– a growing group of almost 50 men aged 72 to 97 in need of room and board, medical care, fraternal and spiritual enrichment. I am pleased to report that many if not most are still at work, at least part time offering sacraments, missions, classes, support groups, and, of course, ongoing prayer for you and the Church as a whole. The average cost of care for each Senior Paulist Father is $53,000 per year. Perhaps your income enables you to support one of them this year. Whatever you can give, I know that you would want to thank them for over 50 years of service each.
This appeal also helps us educate and train our 10 Paulist students to assure our Paulist charism continues. Each student requires 4 to 5 full years of tuition at Catholic University plus a year of prayer, discernment, and some ministry in the DC area called “Novitiate Year.” In addition, we require students to have a year of pastoral experience before his ordination, to assure us that each has the opened mind and heart and welcoming spirit of the Paulist Fathers. The average cost of each Seminarian is $70,000 per year. All of this completely is subsidized by your support.
Your gift also subsidizes our Vocation Office. Our Director, Fr. Dat Tran, visits parishes and campus ministries throughout the USA to invite men to consider Paulist priesthood; he also offers several annual retreats with that resolve. We know you want more priests with the Paulist Spirit for not only this but future generations. Only you can make all this happen with your willingness to collaborate, to grow in faith with us, and your financial support.
Remember the Paulists, like all Religious Orders, were created and are sustained with the kindness and collaboration of the people. We hope you have come to believe in us as we believe in you –true and faithful servants of the Gospel. Paulist Appeal Envelopes have been mailed to all registered parishioners and for the rest, with faith and trust, we have placed more envelopes in the pews. You may contribute what you can today or better, take the envelope home for further prayer and discernment. If you choose to give today, please write your name and address on the outer envelope (pens are in the pews), so we thank you and you’ll have a record of your donation. You may consult our website http://www.paulist.org/ for more examples of our lives and make a monthly pledge on line to sustain us through the year. No contribution is too big or small.
Wherever you are on your faith journey, I hope you experience Paulist leadership as welcoming and accepting. We have entrusted our lives to the Eucharistic, all the sacraments and the best of the American spirit: “for the people” by the people, and with the people;” or, to us Church language: “Together in mission.” Isn’t this the kind of Priesthood you want to support? Please don’t give up on us! Thank you, thank you, with all our hearts. God bless you!