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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Bishop’s Appeal: Building disciples

By Bishop David Ricken | February 5, 2015

This is an exciting time in our diocese. It is such a blessing to be part of a vibrant community of Catholics here in Wisconsin. As we become fully immersed in the new year, we also begin our first full year in my invitation to be a Disciple on the Way! It is my hope that people will build a renewed love for Jesus and cultivate a relationship with him through prayer.

We all know that in building a new friendship with someone we spend time together, we talk, laugh and sometimes cry together. This isn’t always easy, it takes time and effort. As the friendship grows, you inherently want to spend more time together. It is no different in building a relationship with Jesus. As you invest time in prayer with Jesus, you reap the rich reward of his friendship and you gradually become more fully his disciple. A disciple of Jesus is someone who is a good friend of Jesus and spends quiet time with him every day.

We are richly blessed in the Diocese of Green Bay to be surrounded by people who are passionate about helping others draw closer to Christ, who want to teach our friends to pray. These disciples of Christ want to make you a disciple, too! So it is no coincidence that the theme for this year’s Bishop’s Appeal is “Building Disciples of Christ.”

Funds raised through the Appeal help their ministries and services reach out to people, grow their faith and help those in need. I encourage you to consider making a generous gift to the Bishop’s Appeal. You’ll understand why when you take a look at how these disciples can give you or somebody you know the tools to grow closer to Christ!

A perfect example is the new evangelization team. This group is responsible for bringing lively, spirit-filled programs straight to people across the diocese. Their mission is to help others deepen their faith, live out the Gospel, and invite them into a relationship with Christ. They offer programs like Girlfriends in God, Encounter and RCIA for adults young and old. Watch your bulletin or check the diocesan website for programs that might inspire you. The Bishop’s Appeal provides significant resources for this team to develop and deliver ministries that bring people to Christ through prayer and worship.

Educational programs run deep in our diocese; when we impact the faith of children it is a grace they carry throughout a lifetime. Our dedicated teachers, administrators and volunteers in schools and parishes teach children to love God, to talk with him and to see him in the face of others. Every gift to the Bishop’s Appeal helps these educators receive training and curriculum. You help inspire children to know and love God with your gift to the Bishop’s Appeal.

Do you have a deacon you love to pray with at Mass? Maybe you’re inspired by his community outreach? These wonderful men proclaim the Gospel bringing Christ to people in prisons, hospitals, shelters and youth programs as well as the homebound. The Bishop’s Appeal helps fund the training and formation of deacons.

When prayer becomes the cornerstone of a marriage, it provides the foundation of a Catholic family. Marriage preparation classes, offered throughout the diocese, help couples develop a faith-filled marriage rooted in Christ. Additional marriage enrichment classes help couples continue to grow their relationship with Christ through the years. We often hear, “The family that prays together stays together.” I couldn’t agree more! The Bishop’s Appeal makes it possible to bring couples closer to Christ across our diocese through these and more ministries.

Part of a deep prayer life includes praying for others. As you draw closer to Christ in prayer, please remember to pray for those seeking guidance through Catholic Charities. We may not recognize the couple seeking budget counseling, the family hoping to adopt a child, or the person coping with grief or depression. The staff of Catholic Charities does a tremendous job of lifting people up and the Bishop’s Appeal is there supporting their mission.

Journey into prayer with me this year. Take advantage of programs offered at your parish or in the diocese and take a closer walk with God. Pray for the success of the Bishop’s Appeal, so that we might continue building disciples of Christ through these and many more wonderful ministries. And please, prayerfully consider what your gift will be for the 2015 Bishop’s Appeal.

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