Peace and joy to you in the Good News of Jesus Christ, our Lord! And yes, these hopeful greetings are possible even in the face of all the world puts before us and our children. How?
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, St. Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: “Do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” Paul wasn’t speaking poetically or metaphorically. He meant that Jesus Christ was literally dwelling within them. And, yes, my brothers and sisters across the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, Jesus Christ is in you, too!
Jesus also dwells within every person we meet. You see in each an image of Christ, particularly among those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, in prison, enslaved, or on the wrong path in life. Within each, someone is looking to be found, to be loved, to be recognized. In so many ways throughout the Gospels, Jesus calls us to reach out to them, to share the love within our hearts, to share Him who dwells within us.
One way we do so is through the many ministries that serve our communities, made possible through Catholic Charities and Communities of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. On the following page you’ll see that in 2021, 50% of the funds were used for Catholic Social Services and 44% to fund evangelization and apostolic ministries that support our parishes, educate our children, and form lifelong members of our faith.
Every dollar was used in strengthening our Church right here in our diocese across northern and central Alabama through ministries including:
• Catholic Social Services – Our Catholic Centers of Concern, Disaster Relief Services, and Catholic Family Services have served over 50,000 people last year alone, helping to restore homes, families, and lives.
• Vocations – We’re seeing tremendous responses from young men hearing the call of God toward the priesthood. While I’m delighted that we have 14 seminarians enrolled this fall, the need in our diocese is great. My goal over the next few years is to have 30 seminarians in training to care for our parishes for decades to come.
• Campus Ministry – Every one of our current seminarians were active in campus ministry programs during their undergraduate years. And, the many young men and women who participate grow in, rather than away from, their faith and build strong families steeped in faith.
• Formation Programs – For faithful of all ages – from coordination of Catholic Schools, parish religious education, ministries for youth and young adults, and opportunities for catechesis and evangelization – our diocesan formation ministries, in concert with our parishes, are squarely focused on helping people get to Heaven.
• Multicultural Services – Evangelization transcends all boundaries in language, customs, cultures, ethnicities, and origins. Jesus attended to all. We, too, work hard to represent Christ among all His people.
Each of us has an important role to play in the world. We contribute by living the Christian life in a way that is an adventure, that is fascinating, that is attractive, that is fulfilling and wholesome. That, indeed, is a very special gift to the world. I encourage you to do all you can to share Christ within you to all in our diocese and beyond.
Your pledge, your gifts, and your prayers for our success will impact people in your own community, in your own parish, and within your own family. Please join me as we grow together to share the love and hope of our Lord, proclaiming that He is here and dwells within us.
With deepest gratitude and prayers for you and your families and loved ones, I am
- Most Reverend Steven J. Raica, Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama