Even though I’m still learning my way as the new Archbishop of Anchorage, I’m no stranger to the annual appeals that support the work of the broader Church. Our One Bread One Body 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal gives us the opportunity to participate in the life of the Church beyond the parish.
I served in various roles as a priest, both as a pastor, and in a chancery position prior to being named a bishop. I fully understand that our faith life is primarily lived out at the parish level. Parishes are where the faith is taught, the sacraments are celebrated, and where a great deal of charity is exercised in many and varied ways. That is as it should be. However, this reality obscures the fact that the Church exists beyond the parish. We also have a role to play in that reality.
I was recently asked what role the chancery plays, and why do we need this layer of administration? There are numerous answers. The people who work at the chancery work for the Church. We work for the People of God. Much of that work means practical support of our parishes and parish staffs. In short, we exist to serve the parishes.
Any given moment of any day, you could walk the halls of the chancery and hear staff members on the phone fielding questions from parish staff members, whether that be someone scheduling an event with the Archbishop, or a religious education director looking for resources, or a youth minister exploring ways to better reach our youth. It may be someone coordinating with our Vice-Chancellor to schedule priests to cover the parish while the pastor is away, or it may be a young man talking with the Vocation Director as he tries to discern God’s calling.
Other likely scenarios would be a parish bookkeeper on the phone with someone in our Finance Office asking any number of questions about record keeping, payroll or any number of insurance questions. Or, a principal from one of our Archdiocesan Catholic Schools speaking with our Director of Catholic Schools.
Even beyond the Archdiocese, the Church has many people that work at the national level – the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – and there is another level beyond that – the many Congregations and Dicasteries at the Vatican. So, the chancery offices interface with all of those offices as well. Not all that infrequently, we receive information from the Universal and National level that needs to be disseminated at the parish level, and sometimes we are requested to gather information from the parish level and pass it on to the National or the Universal level.
The Church exists for Mission – the great commission of Jesus – to go into the world and proclaim the Good News.
Please join us with your prayerful and generous support. To learn more about One Bread One Body 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal or to make an online donation, you can visit our Archdiocesan website here.
I will close with one of my favorite Scripture passages about such generous giving:
To keep the law is to make many offerings; whoever observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. By works of charity one offers fine flour, and one who gives alms presents a sacrifice of praise. To refrain from evil pleases the Lord, and to avoid injustice is atonement. Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. The offering of the just enriches the altar: a sweet odor before the Most High. The sacrifice of the just is accepted, never to be forgotten. With a generour spirit pay homage to the Lord, and do not spare your freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirt of joy. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means. For he is a God who always repays and will give back to you sevenfold. But offer no bribes, these he does not accept! (Sirach 35: 1-14)