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Editorial | Supporting the Church’s deepest nature

Record amount given to Annual Catholic Appeal will help the Church carry out its three-fold responsibility

Catholics gave a record amount to this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal, which raised a total of $17.1 million.

That money directly supports the work of the Church lived out in so many ways.

In the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (“God is Love”), Pope Benedict XVI describes the mission of the Church. “The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 25).

Thanks to the generosity of the faithful, the Church in St. Louis is able to fulfill all three of those responsibilities. The ACA helps fund faith formation opportunities that bring the word of God to all ages, including evangelization and discipleship programs, Catholic schools, youth ministry, Hispanic ministry, Newman Centers on college campuses and adult faith formation, among others. Funds also support Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and other vocations programs that allow priests to flourish.

And ACA contributions are vital to the charitable ministry of the Church, seen through the work of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, parish food pantries, the Rural Parish Workers and clinics, support for immigrants and refugees, ministry to those in prison and so much more.

As Pope Benedict points out, this charitable work, reaching out to those most vulnerable and on the margins, is not an optional part of being Catholic — it is an indispensable part of our nature. The results of the ACA show that Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis understand this responsibility, because their gifts lead to very concrete ways in which thousands of people — regardless of religious affiliation — in our area are positively impacted.

The All Things New strategic pastoral planning process aims to make sure the archdiocese is present and equipped to evangelize in every square mile of its territory, which spans 11 counties. ACA-supported ministries will continue to be vital in that mission.

“The Church is the Body of Christ, but it can be invisible to the world,” ACA executive director Brian Niebrugge said. “What the appeal does is take the invisible mystical Body of Christ and make it visible to the world in a way they understand. So, it helps evangelize people and help people understand what the Church is and what it does here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”

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