That first reading comes from
the Prophet Hosea.
It is a very passionate book.
God is speaking to his people
as if he is a husband,
and his people are his wife.
So it starts out negatively,
Talking about unfaithfulness and adultery—
And God says, "you are not my people."
But then comes today’s reading.
"I will allure her"—God woos his people!
"I will espouse you to me forever."
God always wants to move past our sins.
We may hold on to them,
but God is always ready to forget.
Every year, we have an annual appeal
for a number of needs of the Archdiocese.
Today I’m making that annual appeal.
There’s a painful reality here
I might as well acknowledge.
Because of unfaithfulness
on the part of some who wear this collar—
because of how the Archbishop handled things—
There’s a lot pain and hurt
and it affects this fund drive.
Unfortunately, a lot of good causes
suffer as a result.
Let me tell you about some of them.
Retired priests. Last December,
you were very generous
in supporting the fund
for retired sisters and brothers.
That fund is for those in religious orders—
such as Franciscans, Sisters of Charity, and so forth.
Retired, diocesan priests—such as Father Ang—
are provided for by this fund.
Catholic Social Services. Last year,
when the hurricane hit,
hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans
were refugees; Catholic Social Services helped.
Every year, couples seek adoption and need help;
folks get in trouble, and need counseling;
someone is faced with an unexpected pregnancy,
and needs guidance;
Catholic Social Services
meets these and many other needs.
Our seminary. From time to time,
you will say to me,
"Father, we like your homilies!" or,
"Father, we like how you offer Mass,"
or other words of encouragement—
for which I thank you.
Well, I give my parents a lot of credit,
But as far as being trained as a priest,
Knowing Scripture, liturgy,
the teachings of the Church—
I learned them through our seminary.
The Athanaeum of Ohio provides everything
our future priests need—free!
It also trains folks for lay ministry
and as permanent deacons.
The St. Rita School for the Deaf
provides for children
from kindergarten through high school
who have hearing disabilities—
especially those with profound hearing loss.
As you might imagine, it’s expensive;
It requires teachers with special gifts and training.
I don’t have to say much more, except:
Aren’t you proud to support such a school?
One more good cause, especially now:
Our vocation programs
to attract more sisters, brothers, priests and deacons.
When I first called the vocation office,
Father Mark Watkins did a lot to help me.
I think you agree, these are all good causes.
But I know many wonder:
will the money go where I want it to go?
So here’s my suggestion.
You have a choice.
If you want, write your check
to the Archdiocesan Fund—
or just tuck cash into the envelope in your pew.
And that’s where it will go.
But you might prefer to designate a cause.
You’ll find a yellow slip of paper in your pews,
just like this.
It mentions some, not all,
of the causes being supported.
If you write your check,
payable as listed on that slip,
your donation will go directly to them.
We’ll separate them out,
And when we turn what is given for this appeal,
I’ll tell the Archdiocese
how you want the money spent.
If they don’t agree—I’ll give you your check back.
Our parish goal is $15,200.
If every family gives $25,
we will make that goal.
Of course, some have more, some have less.
Please do whatever the Lord leads you to do.
I invite you to put your contribution
in today’s collection,
or drop it off another week, or send it by mail.
Only what is in these envelopes
will go to this fund.
I began with Hosea, let me return there.
Despite infidelity, despite the hurt of that,
God cannot abandon his People.
You have shown that quality!
Despite the hurts and wrongs we all know about,
Here you are:
Faithful to your parish,
faithful to our Catholic Church.
Lent begins this Wednesday.
For all of us,
may God give us the grace "to move past":
Just as God moves past our sins,
may we be able to do the same for each other,
and to move forward as a parish and his Church.