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BEFORE THE CROSS | A grateful recollection of generosity

Extending our generosity into the public sphere will allow us to enrich public discourse

In the readings this week St. Paul gratefully recalls the generosity of the Churches in Macedonia, then asks for generosity from the Church in Corinth.

I, too, want to express gratitude for the generosity I’ve seen in the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of St. Louis over the last 10 years.

When I came to St. Louis the archdiocese was wrapping up the “Faith for the Future” capital campaign. The goal of $50 million was far exceeded: More than $57 million was invested to secure Kenrick-Glennon Seminary’s future.

Then, in order to meet the growing needs of families who desire a Catholic education for their children, we initiated the “Beyond Sunday” capital campaign, hoping to raise $100 million. The people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis pledged $110 million to provide scholarships for those families.

The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation is the fourth largest foundation of its kind in the country. The last 10 years the Foundation has grown from providing scholarships for 700 elementary school students to more than 4,500 students, and from a $1 million organization to a $12 million organization. Today and Tomorrow distributes more than $10 million a year to families desiring a faith-based education for their children. Scholarship recipients attend every Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Finally, over the last 10 years a remarkable $145 million has been pledged to the Annual Catholic Appeal.

And the generosity that I’ve encountered here is not only financial. There’s is a vocational generosity in the Archdiocese of St. Louis as well. Over the last 10 years, 50 men have been ordained to the diocesan priesthood. We have one of the highest rates of active priests per Catholic, seminarians per Catholic and ordinations per Catholic in the nation.

Nor is vocational generosity confined to the ordained. I see lay people in archdiocesan offices, in parishes, and in their families, living their faith with great generosity. A simple but poignant example of this is the former director of our Respect Life Office who resigned in order to raise four adopted children with her husband. That kind of “all-in” commitment to the faith is something I’ve seen again and again, and in a variety of ways in my 10 years here in St. Louis.

After 10 years it no longer surprises me. But it never ceases to amaze me!

I hope, in the next 10 years, the people of the archdiocese will become as generous in sharing the good news about Jesus Christ as they have in every other area of faith. Public discourse becomes poor when people can’t or won’t speak openly of their relationship with God. Extending our generosity into this sphere enriches public discourse. I encourage us all to speak more often and more easily about how we have experienced the Father’s love, Jesus’ grace and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.

The people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis have never hesitated to share their treasures. I thank God for that, and I thank you for that. But our deepest treasure is Jesus Christ Himself. I hope you will become as generous in sharing Him as I have seen you be generous in every other way.

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