Bishop Urges Renewed Generosity to Meet Needs During Tough Times
ORANGE, Calif. (CNS) — Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange has designated the midpoint of Lent, Laetare Sunday, as a time for renewed generosity to meet the growing needs of people impacted by the ongoing economic crisis.
In response to the crisis, the Diocese of Orange’s pastoral council has organized a charitable outreach campaign to begin on Laetare Sunday, March 22.
Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, parishes and other Catholic organizations in the diocese provide food, clothing, counseling and other services to the needy on a daily basis. The bishop said the diocese has seen an “unparalleled greater demand” for these services.
“Indeed, we are seeing much sadness in America these days,” Bishop Brown said.
“And, we are now seeing a new category of need brought forward by victims of home foreclosure, the newly unemployed and others who now face social and economic uncertainty perhaps for the very first time,” he continued.
Catholic Charities of Orange County expects to serve more than 100,000 people this year. Last year, the agency cared for 65,000 people.
The diocese provides $550,000 for human services and other needs. The amount is about 10 percent of the diocesan pastoral service appeal. Most of the diocese’s 59 parishes also operate food, clothing and shelter programs for struggling families.
The diocesan pastoral council suggested the campaign to Bishop Brown as a way to return to the Lenten practices of prayer, almsgiving and doing good works.
“The need is growing and we want to ask our diocesan brothers and sisters to grow their level of giving,” said Jeff Urbaniec, council president.
Bishop Brown saw the “immediate value” of connecting the effort with Laetare Sunday. He noted that it was once called the “Sunday of the Five Loaves” in memory of the miracle Jesus performed in feeding many people with only five loaves of bread.
“In our own way, we are asking for loaves — and to distribute these to those most in need through our existing diocesan and parish programs and through other equally important types of giving,” he said.
Laetare Sunday typically includes joyful signs of the anticipation of Easter, including flowers, music and colorful vestments worn by priests.
“I am hopeful that as we turn the midpoint in Lent, Catholics throughout our diocese will renew their efforts to pray, to re-evaluate their lives as Christians and above all to give of their spirit and their possessions to those who may be in greater need,” said Bishop Brown.
“By doing this, we will indeed have reason to rejoice,” he added.
He asked parishioners to donate money, personal service, food or other products on the weekend of March 21-22, the kick-off of what is meant to be an ongoing campaign.
The bishop asked Catholics also to be aware that people “all around us are becoming stressed by uncertainty and worn down by fear of the unknown” because of the economic crisis.
These feelings “can be as grave as poverty or hunger because they threaten our very spirit and challenge our faith,” he said.
In response, he asked “every person of faith to look around them — and become aware of neighbors, co-workers and friends who may be suffering in silence.”
“They need a friendly word, a comforting nod or other expressions of human kindness just as others may need food, clothing, shelter or money,” Bishop Brown said. “These are human gifts that all can give, confidentially and with the spirit of love our faith centers upon.”