With Thanksgiving Day approaching, it is an opportune moment for me to say a sincere "Thank you!" to the good people of the Diocese of Buffalo. I am a few months into my second year as your bishop.
As I continue to get to know you, traveling around the eight counties of Western New York to visit our parishes, schools, religious communities, colleges and universities, Catholic Charities and other human service agencies, and other ministries, I am so heartened by the good work, the committed discipleship, the generous service of so many thousands of faith-filled people.
While I do try to thank individuals and communities in a personal way when I am present to them, I know that I miss that opportunity with the great majority of you. And so, let me express my heartfelt gratitude for who you are and for all you do for the Lord and His people. You are an inspiration!
Stewardship - a disciple's way of living - is about the sharing of our time, talent and treasure so that the mission Christ has entrusted to us, His Church, will be most effective and fruitful. Imagine the hours of service offered each day, every week, all year in all of the many and varied communities of faith that constitute the tapestry that is our diocese! Think of the rich array of gifts and talents our people bring to bear on the Church's work!
The sharing of "treasure" - the financial dimension of stewardship - should not be forgotten, because there is tremendous generosity there as well. I think of the most recent Catholic Charities Appeal with the total of $10.8 million donated to help those most in need of our services - $100,000 over goal.
Then there is the annual national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious. The people of the Diocese of Buffalo in 2012 contributed $884,000 to this collection that assists in the care of senior religious women and men whose long-term retirement needs are dramatically underfunded. This generosity puts the Diocese of Buffalo first of the 169 dioceses that reported on the collection.
And Buffalo is second only to the Archdiocese of Chicago in its 25-year ranking with our diocese's total contribution of $22,396,411. This is a tribute not only to the generosity of our Catholic people, but to the depth of our appreciation for the generations of consecrated religious women and men who have served us so very well.
In total, contributions to all of the national collections (Latin America, Mission Sunday, Oklahoma Tornado, for example), along with our own Catholic Charities Appeal, amounted to $13,275,000 in the last fiscal year. This is in addition to parishioners' generosity at their own parishes.
Thanksgiving Day is our national moment to pause and reflect on our blessings, to thank God and one another, and to be inspired to even greater sharing of our gifts for the good of others.
Thank you all for your Christian stewardship, your generous sharing of time, talent and treasure. And as this Year of Faith comes to a close on Nov. 24, the Solemnity of Christ the King, let's rededicate ourselves to the sharing of our faith - the work of the New Evangelization.
As we prepare for Advent and Christmas, why not identify at least one inactive Catholic you know and invite him or her to come back to Church. Eucharist is the ultimate act of thanksgiving and, as Vatican II told us, the source and summit of our Catholic lives.
Happy Thanksgiving! Holy Eucharist!