Every year, when the Stewardship Appeal comes around, in whatever name, I am reminded of my old friend, Msgr. Francis Costello, who was for many years a pastor here in the archdiocese.
Back in the 1980s, some smart person had the notion of combining the collection for retired religious men and women with the Cardinal’s Appeal, as it was called then, highlighting the work these people had done. Well, the appeal was a great success.
Msgr. Costello understood why. “You know,” he said to me, “I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the name of the priest who gave me my first Holy Communion. I am not sure which bishop confirmed me. However, I can tell you the names of the sisters who prepared me for those sacraments and, in fact, the name of every sister who ever taught me.” He then proceeded to demonstrate that he did indeed remember them all and the grade year they taught.
I was happy to hear on Sunday in the Cathedral that our gifts to this year’s appeal will help support religious sisters and brothers who have worked long beyond the time when most people retire and now need care themselves.
By the way, when you give to the Stewardship Appeal, you also support the mission of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, which trains the parish catechetical leaders and catechists who carry in the great tradition of those selfless religious sisters and brothers, who worked for little or no remuneration.
When you make your pledge this year, see if you can remember who prepared you for the sacraments and enriched your understanding of your God-given faith. I have a feeling that like my old friend, Msgr. Costello, you will be able to reel off all their names.