Many of you are aware that it’s APA season again. You have probably received in the mail this year’s letter, informational flyer and pledge envelope for the Annual Pastoral Appeal. For the past couple of years I have used the Annual Appeal Sunday to highlight one of the many ministries and activities that are funded by APA. I’ve addressed only one of those ministries and activities each year because of the number and diversity of the projects that receive APA funding.
After having consulted with the Parish Finance Council, I had planned this year to talk about Pinellas Hope and the Diocese’s other outreach activities to the homeless. Pinellas Hope is located a few miles south of Clearwater, and provides housing, mentoring and support to the homeless in Pinellas County; it is a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
The recent, sad event of the death of our former pastor, Fr. Nyambo, led me to reconsider this year’s Appeal. The Annual Pastoral Appeal funds pastoral ministry and charitable outreach activities such as Pinellas Hope, but it also funds much of the Diocese’s administrative work. Administrative offices, paper work and bureaucracy have little sentimental appeal and very little to commend them to donors. Occasionally, however, there are examples of the necessity and benefit of the behind-the-scenes administrative functions that are required in order to support the Diocese’s ministry activities. Fr. Nyambo’s death turned out to be one of those occasions.
One of the limitations imposed by mandatory celibacy for priests in the Latin Rite is that we have no immediate family to look after us if we fall ill or become incapacitated. As I explained to you a few weeks ago, Fr. Nyambo had a massive stroke on the night of December 29. He was alone in his condominium at the time. While Fr. Nyambo was receiving emergency treatment, the hospital Admissions office inquired whether he had health care directives that needed to be observed during the time of his hospitalization. Fortunately, we were able to obtain copies of Fr. Nyambo’s health care directives and power of attorney document.
Our Diocesan Chancery requires every priest to keep on file a current copy of a Will, a current copy of health care directives and up-to-date designees for power of attorney and healthcare surrogacy. Because Fr. Nyambo had these documents on file in the Chancery, and because the Chancery staff were so quick to respond to our request, we were able to provide the hospital with the documents they needed.
Fr. Nyambo’s death, a few days after he was hospitalized, was a tragedy for our parish and the Diocese, but it provided me with a good reminder of the value of the administrative activities that our Diocesan Chancery performs. The Diocesan administrative offices are not involved in what one would call ‘glamorous’ activities. None of those offices would remind one of the description of church community in today’s second reading (1 Cor 12:8-11), but they are essential to the ministerial work of the Diocese and the ministry of priests.
None of us could have foreseen it, but our contributions to last year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal helped to fund the offices that looked after Fr. Nyambo’s legal and medical affairs while he was hospitalized. I wanted to speak on this topic this year because it offers a rare glimpse into essential Diocesan activities that, for the most part, go unnoticed.
Our parish goal for this year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal is $95,268.00, a slight decrease from last year’s goal of $95,506.00. There were 252 households which made pledges last year; the average pledge was $406. I am very gratified that so many of you responded so generously to the Appeal. Because of your generosity and faithfulness All Saints has been able to pay its annual assessment to the Diocese without using any funds from the weekly Offertory revenue.
I would like to ask again for your faithful support of our parish campaign. If you haven’t yet received the annual mailing, you will see it within a few days. Please take the time to fill in the pledge card; you may return your completed pledge card to the Chancery by mail or you may place it in the Offertory collection on Sunday. I’ve found that the easiest way for me to make and pay my pledge is online at the APA giving web page. If this is your first pledge online, you will have to create an account; be certain to direct your pledge to All Saints for the 2016 campaign year.
When a priest retires he can become somewhat isolated from Diocesan life. In order to address that possibility, our Diocesan Chancery provides social events, anniversary celebrations, health care coverage and other support services to retired priests. The Chancery will also provide nursing home care if a priest is in need, but cannot afford it on his own. These activities take place outside the focus of parish life, and go entirely unnoticed until a tragic event like Fr. Nyambo’s death occurs. The Diocesan Chancery offices were very helpful and very attentive during Fr. Nyambo’s hospitalization; they continued to provide help and support after his death. This stands as a good reminder to all of us of the many good works accomplished by our pledges and contributions to the Annual Pastoral Appeal.
Filing cabinets, meetings and documents are not exciting or compelling, but they are necessary. As the Scripture says, “there are different forms of service but the same Lord” (1 Cor 12:5); at a time when administrative help was needed Fr. Nyambo, and our parish, were the direct recipients of work funded by the Annual Pastoral Appeal. Please give your prayerful consideration to making a pledge today. Thank you for your continued faithfulness and generosity toward All Saints Parish. May God continue to bless you in the new year!