“It’s not so much about giving to needs,” Bishop Ricken said – although the Appeal meets numerous physical, spiritual and emotional needs through diocesan services to individuals, parishes and schools. Rather, he said, “It’s about our need to give.”
Crozier Society members gave various reasons to describe their need to give.
Richard Suslick of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, De Pere, said he joined the Crozier Society several years ago because “It’s the right thing to do. The diocese does a lot of good work and I like to support it.”
Carol Mueller, also a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, said she wasn’t even aware of the Crozier Society when her husband suggested several years ago that they increase their level of giving to the Bishop’s Appeal.
“We got a nice letter back and The Compass and we’ve just continued,” she said. “God has blessed us so very much. We have six children and 12 grandchildren. The least we can do is to give back to the Lord.”
Dr. F.X. VanLieshout of St. Bernadette Parish, Appleton, said it is important to share the blessings we receive. “Doing so gives me a sense of well-being,” he said. “By giving, I receive.”
Shirley Kabat of Holy Spirit Parish, Darboy, said she has “always given. It’s part of being Catholic and Christian. We don’t have a lot, but it’s important to have things in order. Religion comes first, then other things. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from giving. It’s better to give than to receive.”
Bishop Ricken said gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal “help us do all kinds of ministries. They help us reach out to many priests, sisters and thousands of lay people like you who have dedicated their lives to the church.”
“You help us to do the work of many, many people, by helping us to teach, to train and to form,” Bishop Ricken said, and to provide services to all parishes, big and small. “That extends the ministry of the diocese in many different ways, so we’re very grateful to you.”
“Last year, we helped 41,000 people in northeastern Wisconsin in our diocese through Catholic Charities,” Bishop Ricken said. “This year it’s going to be a lot more. The population of people coming to seek help and assistance at Catholic Charities has gotten a lot more intense because of the downturn in the economy. I’m so glad we have an agency such as Catholic Charities to take care of those who are having troubles – and that can be any one of us at any time.”
Lay ministry formation to prepare pastoral associates, youth ministers, directors of religious education and liturgy, also benefits from the Bishop’s Appeal, he said.
As of March 27, the Bishop’s Appeal 2009 had received nearly $3.5 million in gifts from more than 23,000 families and individuals, said Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop’s Appeal. Nearly one-third of those gifts have come from the 1,354 Crozier Society members, he said.
Whether or not someone who gives to the Appeal is a member of the Crozier Society, the diocese is grateful, Diedrich said, because all gifts – big or small – help the church in its ministry.
“Whether someone gives $500 or $5 that represents a sacrifice,” Diedrich said. “When I make a gift I want to know that it is doing good. I see that in the church. I hear it in the stories that pastors tell and I see it first-hand when I look at the people being helped.”
Bishop Ricken put it this way: “I consider you my colleagues, my friends, my partners in doing the special ministries of the bishop at the diocese.”