Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Reading 2 2 TM 1:6-8, 13-14
Alleluia1 PT 1:25This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 17:5-10
Homily for Nativity on the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Year (ArchdioceseOne Kickoff)
Last weekend, across the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Pastors were asked to announce the start of a new capital campaign entitled ArchdioceseOne, but I wasn’t here to do that, which is unfortunate because the Archbishop gave us a really funny homily to go along with those readings.
So instead of hearing the Archbishop’s funny homily, I’ll just explain the capital campaign and it’s components and tie in a bit of the readings. And if you went to a different church within the Archdiocese last week and already heard about this, my apologies.
The special appeal, which we call ArchdioceseOne, is a way to help the poor and to support the mission of the Church.
In the course of our special appeal, each of us will be invited to help secure the future for mission-related needs: priest retirement fund; education of seminarians; repair of the Cathedral of St. Raphael; and immigration legal services, identified as the greatest need for the poorest of the poor in our midst.
But we’re hoping for spiritual benefits as well. For example, to strengthen unity in our Archdiocese, to deepen our practice of stewardship as a way of life, and to heal the Church with the medicine of charity.
Let’s take a look at each of those needs, starting with the priest retirement fund and education of seminarians.
It’s no secret that our church in Dubuque is in need of more priests. Our numbers in seminary are really good right now, double or triple where we were at 10 to 20 years ago. For some reason, many men are hearing the call right now and are responding, but the education is expensive.
I don’t know exact numbers, but I know once the guys get to Major Seminary in Chicago, it costs almost $50,000 a year to educate them, which is about the norm right now for college education anyway, but it is expensive, so we need to have the funds to do that, especially as more young men enter seminary.
Interestingly, at Minor Seminary here at Loras College, most of the cost is paid for by priests who have died and left money to fund education for future priests. Before Loras was a ‘normal college’ it was a Major Seminary and we are blessed to have had a lot of priests at one time who went to seminary there and left the school money for scholarships.
Another component of this campaign is to raise money for the retired priests fund. After a priest retires at age 70, he continues to get paid the same wage he was making before, which is about $24,000 a year. It’s not a lot, but it pays the rent.
I believe there are more retired priests than there are active priests, but those who are able are really depended upon. For instance, they often cover some of my duties when I am busy at Wahlert and Mazzuchelli.
Even though they are retired, they realize we are all in this together. In Dubuque it is easy, there are lots of retired priests, but the farther west you get, like to my home parish of Tama, the harder it is to find help, so if a retired priest moves into a community out there, it is like a gift.
Priests don’t ever retire from their love of celebrating Mass and other sacraments, they just retire from the responsibilities of running the parish, mainly the busy work of meetings and maintenance.
So we need to raise money for the priests retirement fund, because they are really still working for the Church, helping each other out. Priests give their lives to help others grow in their faith, and it is our responsibility to help them into their retirement.
The third thing we are raising money for is to repair the Cathedral of St. Raphael. It might seem weird that we are fundraising for a church in our own community, especially when we have plenty of debt ourselves, but the thing is, this is not just a normal parish church.
This is the mother church of our whole diocese. Bishop Loras, the first bishop of Dubuque, was the first one to celebrate Mass there in 1857. It was designed with deep historical and theological meaning. It is truly a work of art, is worth repairing and restoring, so that it can be enjoyed for centuries to come.
If you have not been there to visit, please do, I won’t even be mad that you aren’t here that weekend. It is truly worth it.
Finally, the last intention for this capital campaign is for immigration legal services. We hear Jesus say in scripture that we will always have the poor with us, and this is the place where we believe we can have the most impact right now, providing immigation services.
To serve the poor is part of the Church’s mission. It is a command from Jesus in the Gospels, and while we cannot do everything, we are obliged to do something, to do what we can to help those who are seeking help to become productive citizens.
Many of us are unable to physically open our homes or go on a mission trip, but financially we CAN help with some of the legal services and necessary paperwork so that they can live and work legally here in the United States.
Unemployment rates are at all time low, and employers can not find enough workers right now. And for immigrants, legal services are very expensive, while for us it is something we can do well with only a small investment.
So that is what this campaign is all about. I ask you to be generous when you are asked to give. We must remember that we are all in this together, and everything we have is a gift from God.
In the Gospel today Jesus says, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”
We are on a pilgrimage to heaven together. We have been commanded by Jesus and His Church to do certain things along the way. We are blessed with many gifts, but those profits should go back to the Church, to build up the Church and support its mission for years to come.
It is important to build up the Church and its mission, spirituality, sacramentally, AND financially, because the Church is what Jesus left us to bring the salvation of souls, our souls and the souls of our family and friends in the years to come.
And the salvation of souls is the reason Jesus gave his life for us and the reason we are gifted to celebrate the Eucharist at this altar, every day.
May God bless our efforts as we embark on this campaign together across the archdiocese.
We are an Archdiocesan family, and every family has a story. Visit www.ArchdioceseOne.org to view incredible stories of faith, service, and healing. Then taske a moment to share your story.