In apostolic times, when the Church in Jerusalem was in great distress, St. Paul did not hesitate to ask the Catholics of Corinth to give generously to the relief of their brothers in religion. This bond of human solidarity and Christian brotherhood has been in the Church through the ages. Whenever distress came to our brothers in the faith in one part of the world, those in other parts were always willing to extend to them their helping hand.
When the Church in one place is not self-supporting and is struggling to exist, it becomes incumbent upon the Church elsewhere to come to her assistance, for we are, together, "the body of Christ, member for member. And if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with it, or if one member glories, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Cor. 12:25-27).
Mindful of these words and actions of St. Paul, American Catholics continue to be supportive of the needs of the Church. From day one in 1943, the Catholic League Organization for Religious Assistance to the Church in Poland has become a necessary and invaluable part in the reconstruction of the Church in Poland.
Has the Catholic League fulfilled its pledge to Poland? Has the time come to re-evaluate the work of the Catholic League? Not only Poland, but should the Catholic League consider more the potential of the émigrés who became part of Polonia in the United States in the last few decades? Is there the need for stronger faith formation, training in leadership roles in the life of the Church in America and society? Perhaps.
Meanwhile, during this time of discernment, the Catholic League needs to support morally and financially the Polish Pontifical Institute and the Polish Pontifical College, both in Rome, where young, talented priests are sent by their respective bishops for higher studies to staff chanceries, universities and seminaries.
It is essential, for the future of the Church in Poland, that these institutions continue to function. Through our financial assistance, these seminaries and houses of studies can, in turn, produce vocations to the priesthood and assist the Church not only in Poland, but also in other parts of the world.
The history and story of the Catholic League is one of Christian charity, a story that brings the faith, the life of the Church and hope to Catholics, not just in Poland. We, in the United States, the Church in Western New York, the Diocese of Buffalo, also benefit.
A former national executive director of the Catholic League, Msgr. Stanislaus Piwowar, once said, "The Catholic League is no longer a mere relief agency. We are contributing to preserve and defend the faith of a nation brave enough to suffer for God and His Church and Christian enough to grow in greatness."
Pastors and parish administrators are encouraged to have this second collection. An appropriate time would be the weekend of Aug. 19-20 or 26-27, near the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Contributions may be placed in your parish collection or mailed to Catholic League, 160 Cable St., Buffalo, NY 14206.
God bless us in this annual appeal. Our Lady of Czestochowa, St. John Paul II, pray for us! What we do to influence the present will change the future.