This is the 27th year of the existence of the annual appeal, Together in Mission, in Los Angeles. In that time, about one third of our churches and schools have been assisted in their operational expenses and upkeep. It is not easy to estimate the total number of families, particularly young people and teens in our schools and religious education programs, who have directly benefited from schools and parishes having received this support and assistance.
Today, Archbishop Gomez invites every Catholic to make their annual commitment to Together in Mission. For 2020, our parish has been asked to raise $125,656. Last year, 482 donors in our parish helped us raise $133,317 and in doing so, helped us to become one of the most generous parishes in the Archdiocese. This took most of the year to achieve, but we ended up exceeding our goal by just over $2000. I want to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to those generous donors who participated in this wonderful program. Because of your generosity, Our Lady of Lourdes joined with every other parish throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to raise $17,000,000 which was distributed to directly support 74 schools and 64 parishes.
Together in Mission is our annual appeal which goes to serve the most needy communities of our local church. Many dioceses across the country have appeals like ours, but Together in Mission is unique, to the best of my knowledge, in that all the funds raised go directly to the parishes and schools that are most in need. This is an important element of this campaign, to my mind. In any other appeal I have heard about in the country, the monies raised are divided among different needs of that particular diocese. For example, some dioceses use their annual appeal to support different programs and offices. Here in Los Angeles, Archbishop Gomez has continued the policy of his predecessor, and fully 100% of the funds raised in Together in Mission are dedicated to this unique program which directly supports our parishes and schools.
Another aspect of Together in Mission which impresses me and which leads to my unequivocal support of the campaign, is that every single parish in our Archdiocese participates! Every parish, no matter how well or how sparsely resourced, commits to raise a defined amount every year. There are no exceptions. The reason this appeals to me is that it reflects the unity of the local church. We are all involved in continuing the mission and ministry of Jesus in our time, and that involves some very practical and down-to-earth activities, all of which need to be resourced. Every parish contributes, according to its resources. The annual goal of every parish is calculated at 10% of a parish’s ordinary income for the year. Working together, the 288 parishes across the Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties make possible what would otherwise be impossible in many of our local communities. This might not sound like much to a community like ours which is richly blessed in resources, but for some communities, Together in Mission makes all the difference in the world. For some communities, it is no exaggeration to say that without the support of Together in Mission the church doors would close, the school classrooms would be shuttered.
This year’s theme of “Our Story is Alive” reminds us that our gifts to Together in Mission are an active demonstration of our faith and love for those in our Archdiocese who need our support. It is my personal hope that we can increase the number of our contributors who participate in our Together in Mission campaign. As I noted earlier, there were 482 contributors who participated in Together in Mission last year. This number suggests that we have a lot of room to grow and broaden our support of the campaign. Being part of something that is so much bigger than any of us individually, being part of a movement that touches the lives and positively affects the lives of so many people, is not to be taken for granted.
For those who have participated in Together in Mission in recent years, information was mailed directly to your home. You can use that information to participate in this year’s annual appeal. For those who have recently moved, or who have not participated recently, or who may have missed the mailing, there are pledge cards available in our pews. Of course, people can also participate by going online to www.ourmissionla.org/give and participate in that way.
Finally, along with our donors, I want to take a moment to thank the devoted group of people here at Our Lady of Lourdes, who under the leadership of Derrick Carbon, have been so instrumental in recent years for the success of our parish’s participation in Together in Mission. There’s a need for some back-room work to make this all happen as well as it does here at Lourdes, and they all deserve our collective gratitude for their volunteer efforts that have served us all so well.
Blessings on you all.