Key time to support faith as Annual Diocesan Appeal nears

Photo Caption: The 2012 Annual Diocesan Appeal will be conducted in most parishes the weekend of April 21-22. This year’s goal is $5.6 million.

Saying “now is a particularly important time to support our faith as the secular world threatens our ability to freely practice our religion,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has encouraged a generous response to the 2012 Annual Diocesan Appeal.

The appeal, the major source of revenue for the ministries and agencies of the Diocese of Peoria, will be conducted in most parishes the weekend of April 21-22.

This year’s campaign seeks $5.6 million with a theme of “I Will Build My Church: Come Follow Me.”

“There may not be a more important time to heed our Lord’s call to ‘Come follow me’ than right now in the year 2012,” Bishop Jenky writes in a campaign brochure to be mailed to all Catholic households of the diocese in the coming days. The bishop was making reference to recent threats to religious freedom, including the current fight against a federal mandate requiring even church organizations to offer insurance coverage covering contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations.

“Building our Church, defending our faith, and bringing Christ to all who need him is exactly what Christ would ask of us,” said Bishop Jenky.

To that end, the appeal supports ministries including Catholic schools and catechetics, marriage and family life, evangelization, campus ministry, priestly vocations, Catholic Charities, and more.

Parishes are assigned individual goals and share in the success of the campaign by having 100 percent of funds donated beyond that goal returned in the form of rebates.

A seven-minute video promoting the 2012 Annual Diocesan Appeal has been produced for viewing at all parishes during April. Narrated by Bishop Jenky, the video also includes interviews with Catholic school parents and students, as well as three diocesan seminarians.

Among the seminarians is Deacon Timothy Hepner of Pontiac, who says that as one of 10 children in his family “I know my parents would never have been able to afford the education I’ve gotten.”

“Whenever I think of people who are praying for me, or who have sacrificed so that I can be where I’m at, I know I’m being held up by their charity, by the gifts they’ve sacrificed,” said Hepner, who is completing his final year of studies in preparation for ordination to the priesthood this May.

“I hope, please God, to give that back, in the form of my own sacrifice, my own vocation,” he added.

In the video, which features photographs of faith in action from around the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop Jenky said he is “in awe” of all the charity and service he witnesses as he travels the diocese.

“The great proof that our local church is alive and well is that it does so much,” said the bishop. “We evangelize, we catechize, we visit the sick, we announce Jesus Christ in season and out of season. So many Catholic believers in this diocese don’t simply talk about loving God in the poor, they show it by everything they say and do.”

Such generosity — including through gifts to the Annual Diocesan Appeal — is rewarded, the bishop assures.

“Everyone who gives for the work of the Lord will be blessed in this life and in the world to come,” said Bishop Jenky. “We should not hold back in our offering for the works of Christ.”

“Nothing is a richer blessing in this life than to follow the Lord,” he said.

The appeal is planned and coordinated by the diocesan Office of Development and Stewardship.

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