This week’s issue of The Record contains the Archdiocese of Louisville’s annual Accountability Report, a document that chronicles the statistics, expenses and income of the church’s operations in Central Kentucky.
The report is meant to be informative and transparent. But what might not be apparent in the numbers, bullet points and charts are the life-changing ministries and services they represent.
The financial story of the archdiocese is a drama steeped in happier endings for people on the margins and displaced people; it explores the deepening faith lives of youth, adults and families; and among its protagonists are a host of people giving of themselves to help someone else.
There are other chapters in this story, too, where people are formed for the lives they’re called to live —from couples seeking marriage to men called to priesthood and lay people drawn to ecclesial ministry.
The story is long and multifaceted, but the theme is consistent — people are uplifted by the mission of the church in Central Kentucky.
The funding for this story comes from the annual Catholic Services Appeal.
Most Catholic households by now have received packets from the Archdiocese of Louisville announcing the 2018 fundraising campaign and an invitation from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz to participate.
His letter refers to Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” and notes, “Our Holy Father calls us to reflect on the holiness found in our daily lives through acts of love and compassion.”
“The ministries supported by the Catholic Services Appeal provide vivid examples of this every day holiness,” the archbishop writes. “The appeal supports programs that care for those who are poor and vulnerable, instills lifelong faith formation and learning, promotes vocations, assists retired priests, enhances worship, and supports parishes and schools.”
In the exhortation, Pope Francis describes the people who live this everyday holiness as “saints next door.”
Some examples of saints next door in the Archdiocese of Louisville are the more than 450 volunteers who helped Catholic Charities provide their services last year. They are also the 14,670 donors who supported the 2017 Catholic Services Appeal.
Saints next door number in the tens of thousands here in the archdiocese.
They are diocesan, parish and school workers who serve families, train catechists, engage youth, enrich the church with multicultural ministries, provide services to parishes, help form seminarians, educate our children, minister to college students, prepare liturgies and even bury our dead.
These everyday saints are the faithful helpers at Sister Visitor Center who help ensure families in Russell, Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods have the basic resources they need to live.
They are parishioners who work with Catholic Charities to welcome a refugee family by furnishing an apartment and helping the newcomers navigate life in Kentucky.
They are prison and jail ministers, who visit inmates, share the Eucharist and offer spiritual support.
The saints next door are people who accompany women in unplanned pregnancies, providing the support they need to welcome new life.
They are the people who work for justice and human dignity.
Saints next door are parish nurses who volunteer their time to safeguard the health of fellow parishioners. They are daily Mass-goers who pray fervently for their loved ones and strangers alike.
There are too many to name. But look around you at Mass. We see them at church every weekend.
We are the saints next door when we seek to live holy lives. And we are saints next door when we set aside our equivalent of a widow’s mite to help continue the church’s services and ministries.