By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
As coordinator of annual giving for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Stewardship and Development, Ann Marie Kelly routinely examines each gift envelope turned into the archdiocese’s Catholic Services Appeal (CSA).
She was doing just that recently — processing the envelopes is the official name for it — when a name on one of the in-pew envelopes from St. Edward Church caught her eye.
It was the name of an old friend, Matthew Morrell — now First Lieutenant Matthew Morrell of the United States Army.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I know this name,’ ” Kelly recalled in an interview earlier this week. “We weren’t really close friends lately, but had been acquaintances for a long time. So I thought I’d send him a Facebook message.”
It was his reply that informed Kelly that Morrell was now in the Army. In fact, that same reply revealed that just a week earlier, after he’d made his contribution to the CSA, Morrell had been deployed to Afghanistan.
“In my Facebook message I just said ‘Hey, Matthew, you’ll get a real thank-you message from the archbishop soon,’ ” she explained. “And I told him that since I process these gifts (to the CSA) and his was such a generous one, it was nice to see people our age wanting to give back” to the archdiocese.
First Lt. Morrell put his parents’ address on his in-pew CSA gift envelope, Kelly noted, “so obviously when he made the gift he wasn’t deployed yet.”
But that deployment came quickly after his thoughtfulness towards the CSA.
When he received Kelly’s message about the soon-to-be-sent “thank you” from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Lt. Morrell replied with his own thoughtful request and expression of thanks, Kelly said.
“Thanks,” Morrell’s Facebook reply began. “I just arrived in Afghanistan. Tell the archbishop to hold the ‘thank you’ note and just say a Mass for all the soldiers deployed and in harm’s way.”
The CSA donation, he said, “is the least I can do for all the gifts that God has given to me, and for all the experience the archdiocese has provided for me as well.”
Kelly was overcome by the message.
“I was just immediately moved; I had tears in my eyes,” she explained. “I emailed the archbishop and forwarded Matthew’s message to him and told him of our conversation.”
Archbishop Kurtz replied immediately and assured Kelly on Nov. 8 that “I will celebrate Mass at noon today for Matthew and for all of those in harm’s way in Afghanistan.”
“I had tears in my eyes the whole time,” Kelly acknowledged. “Matthew’s message is so powerful, whether you know him or not.”
As for the campaign as a whole, along with the contribution of Matthew Morrell, the people of the archdiocese have so far donated more than $1.8 million toward this year’s goal of $3 million.
It’s a good start, Kelly noted, “but it’s just that — a start.”
“We’re a little bit ahead of last year at this time,” she noted, “but it’s really difficult to compare the two campaigns until you get into December and January, because so many people wait until the end of the year to make their contributions.”
Despite the success of this year’s campaign so far, Kelly said she’d like to remind people that while last year’s CSA goal of $2.75 million was met and actually exceeded just a bit, “that money was used to help people and fund programs that served the needy.”
“It’s not like it’s (the money) is still hanging around,” she said. “It was used to help people in need and this year, just like last year and just like every year, there are always people in need. And it is always our job as Catholics to serve them.”
This year she’s hoping that those still “on the fence” about making a CSA contribution will remember the story of First Lt. Matthew Morrell.
She hopes they’ll remember his gift — and service — and decide that if this young man can make a sacrifice for the CSA on top of the sacrifice he’s making for his country, then their own contribution should come a bit easier.