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Creativity marks annual campaign to meet ministry needs




NWIC guest columnist


      This year has been one of learning and adapting for the office of the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). The coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay at home in mid-March, while more than 300 donors were scheduled to attend Mass and a reception with Bishop Robert J. McClory on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Cancelled just days before it was to take place, the event represented just one of many where the offices within the Diocese of Gary had to learn to find new ways to continue ministries in spite of COVID-19. 

      The CSA parish appeal was scheduled to take place the second Sunday of Easter. Taking into consideration the effects of the pandemic, the bishop made a tough decision to delay the CSA parish kickoff. Rescheduled for a Sept. 12-13 kickoff, many pastors presented the appeal as soon as churches were reopened. Prior to the kickoff last Sunday, five parishes had already exceeded their goals.

      “Over these last six months the people of the diocese of Gary have responded with creativity as we seek to meet the needs of our local Church and our surrounding neighbors. For over 30 years, our Catholic Services Appeal has been a key part of our response to meet the needs of the local Church,” said Bishop McClory. “We face a situation in which the need is as great as it’s ever been. During this time, as we respond to the pandemic, we’ve seen innovative and new programming, the livestreaming of Masses on a widespread scale, new ministries and programs adapting to our changing situation.”

      Donations to CSA help to foster new and existing programs in all corners of the diocese.

      The Office of Youth and Young Adults is one ministry that has adapted quickly, led by Vicky Hathaway, diocesan ministry consultant, “The fruit of the Catholic Services Appeal is seeing so many young peoples’ lives be touched,” she said. “There’s research that shows that young people need at least five or six people in their lives to help them stay active in their faith and we want to provide opportunities for young people to get those mentors. 

      “CSA is incredible in helping youth ministers and young adult ministers learn how to minister to young people and give them the opportunity to be formed in their own faith as they better accompany young people in their relationship with Christ,” Hathaway continued.

      Already very active in supporting meet and greets, the Office of Youth and Young Adults has moved some of its programming to social media and virtual conferencing, since March hosting Diocesan Youth Council meetings online, along with Youth Minister Check-Ins, Diocesan Council on Young Adult Evangelization gatherings, small faith-sharing groups, and "An Evening with the Bishop.” The Northwest Indiana Camino on July 25, a 10.5-mile walking pilgrimage, was sponsored by the office of Youth and Young Adult ministry.

      CSA also supports lay ecclesial ministry training and opportunities for growth and formation of religious education directors. It provides catechist training and supports the annual men’s and women’s conferences.  

      “The lay ecclesial ministry program in the Diocese of Gary would not be possible without the support of CSA. This is one way in which we help fulfill the promise of the Second Vatican Council. The Second Vatican Council called all to holiness, called all to serve,” said Deacon Dan Lowery, director of the lay ecclesial ministry program. 

      The CSA provides support for more than 700 catechists and serves 300 to 400 students in grades 1-12 through a summer catechetical mission, Totus Tuus, noted Sean Martin, director of Evangelization, Religious Education and Family Life. 

      Catholic education is a large part of the CSA budget and Father Jeff Burton is grateful for the assistance provided by CSA. “As an advocate for Catholic education, I’ve seen the difference that tuition assistance can make for families that otherwise would not be able to afford it,” he said. 

      Father Burton is also looking forward to investing his CSA rebate by creating prayerful outside spaces at St. Paul in Valparaiso, where he is the assistant pastor.

      “The pandemic reinforced my belief that the Catholic Church has to move beyond its four walls,” he said.

      Ordained three years ago, Father Nate Edquist is grateful for the “generosity of the people of God (who) support the costs of education for our future priests.”

      In addition, he said, “I look forward to utilizing resources offered by CSA to support initiatives within the Hispanic community in the LaPorte Catholic Church community. We have a vibrant and highly relational Hispanic community that is open to new opportunities in ministry.

      “In addition, a large percentage of the next generation of Catholics, especially the youth in our religious education program, comes from a Hispanic background. Therefore, significant effort and resources are necessary to foster the faith of our young people,” he said.

      The CSA campaign will return a 10 percent financial incentive to parishes who achieve their Catholic Services Appeal goal, along with all funds raised above the parish goal. As of one week before the Sept. 13 kickoff, the five parishes that have achieved and succeeded their CSA goals have already started receiving rebate checks. Last year, parishes received more than $963,143 through the campaign. 

      If you have not received a pledge card, please reach out to your local parish office. 

      “I’m grateful that together as a local Church we are coming together to meet the needs of a community in need during this unique and challenging time,” Bishop McClory said. “Our Catholic Services Appeal is one way for the Diocese of Gary, those of us in the four counties of Northwest Indiana, to meet the needs of our time. Be it seminarians preparing for the priesthood, our Catholic Charities, or our various educational support and new programs on the horizon, CSA is a part of our coming together as a local Church to meet the needs of our time with love and compassion.”


      Judy Holicky is the administrative assistant for the Catholic Services Appeal of the Diocese of Gary.  One hundred percent of CSA contributions supports local ministries as well as the worldwide Church. Holicky can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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