My Dear Friends in Christ,

One day when I was a young priest, I heard a knock at the door. There stood a man I recognized, a man who has had some hard times, and who our parish had helped financially over the years.

I asked him, “Are you unwell?” He nodded yes.

“This pain in my stomach won’t go away,” he said.

I could see the pain in his eyes, and I fretted over where to take him. I knew he didn’t have money, and certainly no insurance, but I remembered my diocese at the time ran a free clinic. The clinic was a ministry supported by families across the diocese through the annual appeal. It was the perfect solution.

When we arrived at the clinic, a volunteer doctor quickly admitted him to the hospital. I later found out our quick intervention saved his life. I thanked God for that ministry – and those just like it – from that day since.

As I visit parishes across our Diocese, I am constantly heartened by our community’s resilient faith, warm hospitality, and loving service for those in need. You’re proving every day that charity is not just a word on our tongues or a feeling in our hearts. It’s a commitment to doing good where and when we can.

Together, we’re supporting our shared ministries, such as Catholic Charities who services local families and addicts, our school-based health programs who support students and their families, and our Catholic youth camp in Huttonsville, which we’re happy to announce reopens this summer as Camp Carlo, named after a young, recently canonized saint (formerly Camp Bosco). All of these shared ministries are possible thanks to the generosity of those who support our Catholic Sharing Appeal (CSA).

You know, when I arrived at the Diocese, I was amazed to learn that CSA has supported ministries and parishes since 2007. I also learned that our program is unique. Did you know that once your parish raises 50% of its goal, all the funds above and beyond are given back to your parish to support its needs? That’s incredible!

When the Coronavirus global pandemic began to unfold in 2020, we suspended the CSA in hopes of keeping a focus on our families, schools and parishes. However, as the pandemic has continued well into 2021, so has the need. We must do something.

By now you should have received information from your pastor about this year’s CSA and how your generosity will make an impact at your parish and in our communities. Based on our record of giving during the pandemic, I’m confident we can continue to meet the needs of the poor who have not disappeared over the last year. We must continue to reach out to them in Christ’s name.

As your Bishop, I know my duty is to lead by example, and that’s why I invite you to put your faith into action and join me in supporting our parishes and ministries through a gift to this year’s appeal.

The Lord laid aside the glory of his divinity to live in humility and poverty among us, so that he might make us rich in mercy and the gift of eternal life. Our challenge is to imitate his goodness by helping others. The Catholic Sharing Appeal is one way to do it.

In closing, I ask God’s blessings on you, your families, your parishes, and all the good works you are about.  Let us pray for one another as we move ahead.

Sincerely in Christ,

+Mark E. Brennan
Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston