As the new Liturgical Year begins with this Advent season, the people entrusted with various aspects of diocesan ministries are expressing gratitude for all who support the Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA).
The CSA helps pay for diocesan services that directly benefit parishes, their members and the larger communities they serve.
“A key part of what we do here in the Chancery offices is to help equip our parishes,” stated Maureen Quinn, diocesan director of youth ministry and religious education. “We’re assisting the parishes in promoting lifelong discipleship by providing these opportunities and support in their mission.
“That also goes for the domestic Church — the family home,” she noted. “We’re helping parishes support families in the important work of bringing their children up in the faith.”
Evangelizing young people
Mrs. Quinn is pleased to be able to help parishes in new ways to lead young people to Christ through an ever-changing landscape and culture.
“The concrete, foundational truth that the Church has been teaching and upholding for 2,000 years — that never changes,” she emphasized. “But the way that we share that has necessarily evolved throughout time. And part of what we do as a diocese is to make sure that we are evolving, too.”
Some of the most popular youth evangelization tools that are available in this diocese are the summer camps for young people.
Mrs. Quinn and her staff help coordinate and promote these events
“One of the greatest successes in our diocese right now is our summer camps,” she said.
About 30 high school girls attended Camp Siena and about 30 high school boys attended Camp Maccabee this year.
A committee of people involved in ministering to young people is in the process of examining these camps in light of evolving needs and societal trends.
“Moving forward, all of our camps will have a united theme,” Mrs. Quinn noted. “And possibly the biggest development, we’re adding a middle school camp to spark the joy of faith early on, that will grow into the high school opportunities.”
The basis of all of these is the call to holiness that every Catholic receives at baptism. From that flows all of the more specific callings in the Church, known as vocations.
“With these camps, that’s the focus: the call to live out holiness in every aspect of their life. The relationships they foster become Christian friendships that help build one another up for the kingdom of God.”
Similarly, the diocesan youth ministry staff works with parishes to organize “Tutus Tuus” Catholic enrichment programs over the summer and bus trips to the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) every other November.
“It’s important to note that these are all opportunities for a spiritual encounter,” Mrs. Quinn noted. “They’re only a piece of the equation. We help provide these opportunities in order to support our parishes, so they can do a better job of carrying-out the day-to-day mission of ministering to their youth.”
This fall, Mrs. Quinn also visited the three Catholic Newman Centers in the diocese — in Columbia, Kirksville and Rolla — to help promote stronger connections between them and the rest of the diocese.
At the Rolla Newman Center, she gave a presentation on the New Evangelization.
“It’s important for the young people who are engaged in their faith at these universities to know that we as a diocese are there for them as they continue their lifelong journey of being Catholic,” she said.
She also convened a free workshop in person and online this fall for parish youth ministers and directors of religious education (DREs).
“The topic was discipleship,” she stated. “We also talked about how ministry has changed since the pandemic, as well as how to provide quality retreats for young people.”
Preparing for marriage, family life
Mindful that Christian marriages and families are the primary building block for the Church and society, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight instituted a new, diocesan-wide process for preparing engaged couples for lifelong marriage focused on Christ.
The process calls for stronger collaboration between priests, deacons and laypeople in helping couples prepare to embrace the fullness of Christian marriage.
Everyone involved in the process needed special training.
In about eight months’ time, the Marriage Ministries program of the diocese has provided that training to nearly all of the active priests and deacons of the diocese, along with 180 lay individuals who will serve as marriage preparation facilitators.
“So now they’ll be working more closely together in preparing couples for marriage,” said Deacon Enrique Castro, executive director of faith formation. “This is a good example of what co-responsibility among the clergy and the laity looks like,” referring to one of the priorities in the diocesan Pastoral Plan.
Preparation also includes closer coordination with the parishes, the diocese, the Pre-Cana and Engaged Encounter marriage preparation programs and the people who teach the various methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) throughout the diocese.
“We’re working to integrate all these groups so we could all work together instead of just doing what we were doing separately,” Deacon Castro noted.
He noted that the new process also provides follow-up opportunities for couples long after they exchange their wedding vows.
“This follow-up is about providing them additional resources to enrich their marriage, whatever stage they’re at, such as raising children,” he said.
“We are ‘the diocese’”
Father Joseph Corel, one of the pastors in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Pettis County, recently wrote to parishioners about how helping the CSA helps local parishes.
“As you are probably aware, when the Roman Catholic Church writes documents and refers to the local Church, it is referring to the local diocese,” Fr. Corel wrote. “All parishes belong to the local Church, the diocese. The diocese refers to everyone who lives within a particular region as designated by the Pope. So, you and I are ‘the diocese.’”
Here are a few of the examples he gave of how the CSA benefits parishes:
Strength in unity
Mrs. Quinn pointed out that CSA-funded ministries can never replace the work of the parishes but only support them and help them become stronger.
“We’re a part of the picture,” she stated. “The parishes and domestic Church are a constant presence. We’re there to give them support.”
Visit diojeffcity.org/catholic-stewardship-appeal/ for more information.