Last Sunday, during the announcements before the final blessing, our rector told us that pledge cards for this years United Catholic Appeal (UCA) would be in the pews the following weekend. He went on to inform us that our parish was paying $11,000 per month on last year’s quota, and he asked those of us who had not pledged last year to make a one time donation so that we could pay off the $30,000 owed. My wife and I are among that group, and will not be responding to that request, or pledging to this year’s drive.
Apparently every year the parishes in our diocese begin to look upon ourselves as separate entities, and so we give a weekend to turn our pulpits over to the UCA, which calls “Disciples;” to, “Be One”. This often leads to our priests having to perform verbal gymnastics in front of the the “Disciples;” as they try to “Make One”.
Contrary to popular belief…the United Catholic Appeal covers ministry. So it pays for prison ministry, it pays for Catholic campus ministry, it helps pay for the retreat center, and seminarian and diaconate formation. So, think of it this way. Our quota is about $170,000. It comes down. That’s three seminarians’ education for a year. It costs about $50,000 to educate a seminarian for a year. So that’s what we’re paying. We’re paying for three seminarians to go to seminary so that we have priests whenever I die. Right, I mean that’s the hope. I don’t want to leave you hangin, but we’ve got to form them before I die. So that is what it does.
The Catholic raticum on the other hand pays for the operation and bills and things for the Chancery. So we pay for ministries to the United Catholic Appeal, the Catholic raticum pays for bills. The tribunal is also included in that.A Recent Presentation by a Priest Bringing about Unity by Way of the UCA
As was used in the aforementioned presentation, the most common theme of UCA talks is that of a future with no priests. Let’s follow that line of argument.
Without priests there would be no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith, the Catholic Church would cease to exist. However, our One, True Priest, from whom all other priests derive their priesthood has already promised us, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld (Which seems to be the destiny of those of us who don’t give to the UCA.) shall not prevail against it.” Furthermore the Catechism promises:
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 6, Paragraph 1536
So, is it not heretical to say that without the UCA there will be no priests?
Second Corinthians provides us with an opportunity to see St. Paul’s theology on giving in practice.
I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others.2 Corinthians 8:8
Given that our parish is in debt to the diocese and is paying $11,000 a month out of weekly contributions in order to pay off last year’s quota (A quota which is not based on what we actually pledged, but on what the diocese assessed.), it appears that the intent of the UCA is not so much to “Be One” by appealing “to the genuineness of our love…”, but to “Make One” “by way of command”.
I write this reflection of the commemoration of Saint Patrick, Bishop, Missionary and namesake for our own bishop. Saint Patrick is remembered for his simplicity and pastoral care, and I ask him to pray that The Holy Spirit guides Bishop Patrick Zurek in developing a simple and pastoral way to fund our local Church.