My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you for all you do in your parishes and in your communities to build up the Church as the living Body of Christ.
You know we hear a lot these days about “spreading the joy of the Gospel”, so often in fact that sometimes it sounds cliché. I would ask that we prayerfully reflect on what “the joy of the Gospel” really means. What is the good news found in the Gospel, the message that has transcended the ages and which is repeated in many tongues over and over around the globe every day? The good news is that Jesus, the Son of the living and eternal God is alive in the world today and that He offers all of us the gift of His love, forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.
We, as Catholics, are called at our baptism to be Disciples of Christ in our own time to bear witness to Jesus and to share His Gospel, His good news with others. How do we share the good news? Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, writes, “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and by deed in people’s daily lives.” We need not go out and bang on doors or hit people over the head with Bibles. No, there are better ways. There are ways to volunteer, to serve in a parish ministry, in a soup kitchen or a food pantry, or by visiting seniors in a nursing home. We don’t have to look far to find people in need of our love and kindness. Spreading the joy of the Gospel need not be complicated. It most effectively happens one person at a time; it starts with you and with me!
Another very meaningful way to be an instrument of God’s love, which has a very real and broad impact, is to share our resources with those who have little or nothing at all. This can be done by making a monetary gift to help support the annual Bishop’s Appeal which, for the past 63 years, has provided the major financial resources which enable some thirty ministries of the Church to serve and to care for the spiritual and temporal needs of others.
I encourage you to read this brochure and to visit www.thebishopsappeal.org to learn how your gifts are put to use in serving others. Remember, every gift, no matter the denomination, makes a difference…one person at a time!
Thank you and may God bless you and yours. I place the success of the 2018 Bishop’s Appeal under the protection of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our diocese and nation.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Edward B. Scharfenberger, D.D.
Bishop of Albany