‘Handing on the Light of Christ’

This weekend, March 1-2, the archdiocese will launch the 2008 Catholic Appeal in most of our parishes.

The 2008 Catholic Appeal campaign “Handing on the Light of Christ” is different from previous campaigns. It occurs during the celebration of our bicentennial year. The start date has been moved up to March from the traditional start date in May. It is also the first Catholic Appeal campaign to begin in the holy season of Lent.

The Bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston, like any anniversary, is a good opportunity to reflect on our history as well as look forward to the future.

When the first Catholics came to Boston 200 years ago, they faced many hardships and endured tremendous discrimination against their faith. Yet, they persevered in order to welcome their fellow immigrants, care for those in need, and begin to build parishes, schools and Catholic service agencies. Through these efforts, they handed on the love and the light of Jesus Christ to those they served.

We have benefited from these enormous sacrifices of the Catholics who preceded us. We celebrate their dedication by continuing their tradition of serving Christ by serving others. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to unite with Catholics in every parish of the archdiocese in the Appeal to fund shared ministries that strengthen parishes and schools, form our future leaders, and reach out to the needy among us. God willing, our efforts to renew the Church will ensure that our great faith will continue to be passed on to many new generations of Catholics.

The 2008 Catholic Appeal theme, “Handing on the Light of Christ,” conveys the idea that one of the central duties of being a disciple is to ensure that our faith, a pearl of great price, is handed on to others. Out of love for Christ, love for the Church and love for us, our Catholic grandparents sacrificed to build a strong foundation of faith here in Boston. Now it is our turn to do the same for our grandchildren and all those who will practice our faith in the coming century.

Based on the suggestion of many of our pastors, the Catholic Appeal has been shifted in 2008 to start in Lent instead of May. This is an exciting change because it allows us to integrate powerful Lenten themes into our Appeal message. As Cardinal Seán says in the 2008 Appeal video, “Lent is a baptismal retreat for all of us.” We prepare to renew our baptismal vows on Easter Sunday to be a follower of Christ in the way we volunteer our time and talent as well as share some of our financial blessings to build up the Kingdom of God, the Church. We pray that the entire Catholic community will embrace this change and that it will lead to an increase of funding for the vital shared ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Cardinal Seán is requesting that every Catholic household contribute to the 2008 Catholic Appeal. Participation is important because it is a sign of unity of Catholics throughout the archdiocese. Every gift matters.

As Cardinal Seán writes in his Appeal letter, “This year’s Bicentennial Catholic Appeal is an invitation for every Catholic family to respond with a generous offering to build up the Church. Gifts to the Appeal help tremendously in the Church’s mission to hand on the light of Christ in our teaching, prayer and service. Thank you for all you have done, and all you will do, to be a sign of Christ’s light to others.”

Information is available in all of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston or at www.BostonCatholicAppeal.org. God bless you for all you do for his sake and for his Church.

Scot Landry is Secretary for Advancement and Chief Development Officer for the Archdiocese of Boston.