Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Today we celebrate the annual ArchBishop’s Charities Drive. You might think celebrating a collection is a real stretch, but think about it.

In one form or another this diocesan appeal has been going on since the beginning of the diocese of Miami. In 1958 the diocese was split off from St. Augustine, and within six months Bishop Coleman Carroll - later Archbishop – decided to build a seminary, the first south of Baltimore and east of Little Rock. Seemed like a crazy idea.

He wanted $500,000 and the people came through with $800,000 if my memory serves me. The response was really enthusiastic. We really did celebrate that new seminary. For sixty years, the Church of Miami exploded along with South Florida. We went from 180,000 Catholics in the 16 southern counties of Florida, to 1,300,000 in just three counties along the southeast coast.

ABCD was the engine that moved the Church along the path of growth. It helped the larger organization do what so often wasn’t possible on the parish level. It also gave bishops the space to imagine what could be. The imagining wasn’t always perfect, but I think the good ideas hugely outweighed the duds.

Pastors wouldn’t be pastors if they didn’t grumble and mumble about diocesan assessments and collections. It’s part of our genetic code. However, I don’t know why it’s so hard to appreciate another truth that I have experienced. Fifty-plus years of ministry has underlined my very basic belief in the truth that the more you give, the more you get. Period. Let me rephrase that. The more I have given, the more I have received. I’m speaking personally as well as pastorally.

Here’s another 50+ observation. The financial operation of the Archdiocese in the last nine years has been excellent, especially on the level of how it tries to distribute the burdens of diocesan obligations among all of us, the parishes.

ABCD helps celebrate more than an aptitude for raising money. ABCD also asks us to think outside our normal boxes of only appreciating what lies within our sight and hearing. ABCD points us to where I think Jesus might want us to look. We can be his disciples in ways we hadn’t seen and thought about.

Except for the annual Mission Cooperation Program which usually brings us a visit and an appeal from an outreach mission or program, we only “talk money” twice a year. This week it’s ABCD and next week I’ll bring you the parish report.

We put ABCD first because I firmly believe, as I said, that when we try our best for others, our own needs will be met.

Changing gears, you may have seen The Florida Catholic advertisement for “C.S Lewis, On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert.” It’s a one man show that I suspect is very good. At least for what I paid for the ticket I hope so. It’s at the Parker Playhouse at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, February 10th. If you haven’t read any of his work, treat yourself.

As we ease into our 60th birthday year, I hope you’ll help our Pastoral Council come up with ideas to help us celebrate. Of course, I realize that a camel is a horse that was put together by a com¬mittee. Nevertheless, I‘ll bet we could have fun – at being camels if nothing else.

Given our seasonal dimension, there’s always a little pressure to try and do things when the whole St. Sebastian Aviary is here. Sunbirds, snowbirds, peacocks and emus... and one black ani (cuckoo).

With thanks in advance for your generosity to ABCD and for all the good you are going to do through ABCD that you haven’t even thought of yet, I’m yours in celebration and
In Jesus,
sign frjim

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