Twenty years ago, I began a series of life-changing experiences as a volunteer with Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity at their mission in Baton Rouge. Like many post-Vatican II organizations, the Lay Missionaries had a constitution, but this one required that I let go of everything I had relied upon in my professional life. There were to be no committees, no publicity, and no fund-raising! Mother Teresa, who was still alive at the time, obviously wanted us to depend completely upon Divine Providence, just as she did.
For well-educated Americans, who have experienced success in organized fund-raising, that kind of radical trust is very difficult. It would have been an almost insurmountable obstacle for me, had it not been for the joyful, simple, rugged examples of the Baton Rouge MCs. I will always be grateful for my time with them, particularly because I came away with a deeper appreciation and reverence, not only for the gifts God gave me, but also for the many gifts He has given our country.
The introduction of the United Conference of Catholic Bishops’ One Church, One Mission Guidelines for Administering USCCB National Collections in Dioceses includes several moving quotes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. “For this reason, it is very important that the Church’s charitable activity maintains all of its splendor and does not become just another form of social assistance … The Christian’s program – the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus – is ‘a heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.”
All Catholic fund-raisers should strive for the highest degree of professional competence, which they can acquire through education, as well as thoughtfully chosen experiences, both professional and volunteer. However, let us never forget that we are also called to raise funds for the highest, noblest of purposes. Commenting on Pope Emeritus Benedict’s reflection, the Guidelines insightfully explain that “Sharing of goods within the Christian community expresses Christ’s love reaching to where there is the greatest, and often unseen, need, including within the human heart.”
Currently in Catholic dioceses across our country, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is observing the Fortnight for Freedom, which celebrates religious liberty as the first liberty embodied in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Without this freedom, so fundamental to our country’s overall well-being, all our efforts as Catholic professional fund-raisers could not succeed.
Appropriately, the observance will end July 4 with 12 noon (EDT) Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. For those of us who cannot attend, both EWTN and CatholicTV will broadcast the liturgy, which will be celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington, DC) with the homily given by Bishop David Zubik (Pittsburgh, PA). Veneration of the relics of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher will follow the Mass. As part of the broader Fortnight observance, the relics are touring nine cities across the United States, courtesy of Stonyhurst College, UK, inviting Catholics to come and learn about the courageous examples of these saints and to be inspired by their examples.
For more information about the Fortnight for Freedom, as well as the American tour of the relics of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, please access www.Fortnight4Freedom.org.
About the Writer:
Constance “Connie” F. Anderson, M.Ed. is a multi-generational native of Baton Rouge, and is proud to call Louisiana’s state capital “home.” She recently returned to family and friends, after having spent a wonderful year away as the Executive Director for the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Foundation. For more information about Connie, or to get in touch with her for a potential fundraising consultation, please contact her at Constance.Anderson@cox.net.
One Church, One Mission Guidelines for Administering USCCB National Collections, retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/collection-administration/upload/one-church-one-mission-guidelines-national-collections.pdf