Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
"Catholic Charities: lodestar for the diocese"
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the December 20, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Lodestar is a word in Old English, dating back to the 14th century, for the “guiding star” in the cosmos. Today, the lodestar is commonly referred to as Polaris, that almost motionless point in the sky which makes an excellent fixed point from which to draw measurements for celestial navigation and for astronomy.
I think of our Catholic Charities in Eastern Washington as a kind of lodestar for our diocese. Founded a century ago this year, Catholic Charities was in existence before the Diocese of Spokane was erected in 2013. That historical fact reminds us that even before we were organized as a local Church, the work of charity was being offered as a witness to the Catholic faith and the presence of Christ in our midst. Simply put, Catholic Charities offers us a point of reference for what we should be doing as disciples of Christ and in fidelity to our Catholic tradition.
Each Christmas we are asked to support generously the work of Catholic Charities and those who serve so diligently through it, 365 days of the year. We all know of the invaluable programs and institutions Catholic Charities oversees: the House of Charity, St. Margaret’s Shelter, St. Anne’s Children and Family Center. They manage more than 900 units of housing for seniors, the disabled and families, as well as programs like CAPA, Immigration services, counseling, senior services.
This year, Catholic Charities needs our help more than ever. We are at a turning point in the history of Catholic Charities. Government grants have been reduced in the past three years, creating a budget shortage of $400,000 for next year. These funds have to be replaced in order to keep all of our programs open. When the recession first hit in 2007-8, Rob McCann and his dedicated board made the decision to keep these programs open. They have been successful, but no one expected the economic downturn and the consequent defunding by the State to last as long as it has. Parenthetically, I would add, that in the midst of all the obligations facing Catholic Charities, they took the lead in getting our effort started on behalf of our Catholic Schools as Rob McCann and his staff help provide the infrastructure for launching the Nazareth Guild and the very successful Gala.
We need Catholic Charities to be successful, not just for the people they serve but for ourselves as well. Catholic Charities is our reference point, reminding us we are. We are the people claiming to be the disciples of Jesus, who tells us in the Gospel of Luke: “Much will be expected of those who are entrusted with much” (Luke 12:48). Catholic Charities is our lodestar, that reference point in our midst which reminds us that we are entrusted with protecting the sanctity and dignity of hundreds of lives each and every day. Catholic Charities defines our lives as Catholics.
So, I urge you to give generously to this year’s Christmas Collection, as if the lives of those served by Catholic Charities depend on it. It does.
But, I also urge you to give generously as if your life as a Catholic depends on it. It does.
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