Why I support the Diocesan Annual Appeal — and encourage others to do so
By John Stewart Jr.
When someone is new to a family, workplace or other group, it’s easier to see what makes that group of people special. I converted from the Lutheran faith about 40 years ago, and even though this has been my church home for a long time, I still recognize the qualities that set Catholics apart.
Catholics have a responsibility to spread the faith, to be missionaries. We do this by reaching out beyond ourselves and our local parish. We witness to our faith by helping others when they have needs or to sit with them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Being One in Christ, as our Diocesan Annual Appeal reminds us, calls us to share our blessings with others.
I am called to support my local parish in Ashland with my time, talent and treasure. I volunteer on many committees and serve as the business manager for the school and parish. I have served in a number of roles at the parish, including the parish council and the finance committee.
I have also had the great pleasure of serving on the diocesan Finance Council, and most recently I helped to form the Catholic Education Opportunity Foundation that provides tuition assistance for students with financial needs to attend Catholic schools in our diocese. This too spreads our faith, by making a Catholic education more widely accessible.
But special projects such as these, and efforts large and small across the 50 counties of our diocese, rely on more than just active and engaged parishioners, though that is important.
They also rely on the Diocesan Annual Appeal. There are many needs that are addressed by supporting the annual appeal. Sharing my treasure in this way gives me the opportunity to spread the word of God through the missions and acts of kindness that are provided from this funding. As a mission diocese, the needs of our parishes and people are great.
The annual appeal is a mechanism to bring faith to remote parts of our diocese and allows our smallest parishes to continue to be present to all who need us. Support from the appeal provides for our retired priests, provides tuition assistance funds to our smallest schools, pays the salaries of our priests and parish life directors at our smallest parishes and provides emergency assistance such as food, utility and rent assistance.
No gift is too small or too large, as the needs of our diocese always exceed the funds available. I have been proud of how we have responded to those needs during the course of the pandemic. It has further solidified the value of the appeal and why we have a duty to invest in our Catholic presence in every corner of our diocese.
I encourage others to join me by making a gift to support the annual appeal this year. As Catholics, it is truly part of who we are.
John Stewart Jr. has lived in Ashland, Ky., for more than 70 years and is a member of Holy Family Catholic Church.