By BERN ZOVISTOSKI
The New Vision
The faithful in the Diocese of Tucson are being called upon this year to “be co-workers in the vineyard” of Jesus Christ.
That’s the theme of the 2012 Annual Catholic Appeal, which seeks to raise $3.7 million – the same as the goal for last year and the year before – to fund the 26 charities and ministries it supports.
It’s also the theme of a first-ever diocesan-wide conference to be held March 15-17 in Tucson, which is open to “all who contribute to the life of the Church, through its parishes, schools, diocesan offices and affiliated organizations.”
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said the Annual Catholic Appeal seeks “the bare minimum that is necessary to fully fund each of the charities and ministries,” adding:
“I know that many of you make sacrifices to support your parish, to fulfill your pledge to our diocesan renewal campaign and, each year, to so faithfully support our Annual Catholic Appeal. I am so grateful for your sacrifices.”
The theme, he said, is drawn from the Gospel of John, “beautiful words that are so profoundly special to us because our Lord is telling us, ‘You belong to me! I belong to you!’”
The gospel says:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does, he prunes so that it bears more fruit. Remain in me, as I remain in you.
“Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Bishop Kicanas continued:
“This imagery of the vine and the branches and the vineyard: We get it! We get that we belong to each other and that we belong to Christ! We get that we are in communion with Him and with each other in our Church – his vineyard.”
The Bishop added that “by sharing your blessings in service to others,” much good is achieved:
“Reaching out to the littlest and weakest among us through the programs and services of Catholic Community Services that assist struggling families, the disabled, the elderly and victims of domestic violence.
“Preparing our teachers of religious education who support parents in their responsibility to hand on the faith to their children.
“Strengthening and supporting of our Catholic schools and their teachers to give children a quality education grounded on the values of our faith.
“Promoting the sanctity and dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.
“Engaging, involving and inviting our young people to participate and to stay connected to our faith.
“Providing our retired priests with a pension benefit that reflects the value of their lifetime of service to us.
“Encouraging and inviting vocations to the priesthood and religious life and supporting the education of our future priests.
“Supporting opportunities for us to gather as a family of co-workers in His vineyard to pray together, to learn together, to celebrate our communion with Him.
“And, helping all of us to respond to God’s great generosity in our lives by sharing our time, talent and resources in support of our parishes and for the support of all the good works performed by the charities and ministries of our Annual Catholic Appeal.”
Margie Puerta Edson, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, said 17,070 individuals and families contributed to the 2011 appeal.
“We’re really hoping for good participation again this year,” she said. “It truly makes a tremendous difference if everyone is able to give what they can.”