LAKE CHARLES -- This weekend in the parishes of the Diocese of Lake Charles people will hear Bishop Glen John Provost's special audio message announcing the start of the 2017-2018 Bishop’s Services Appeal - "Heed the Call of Christ" - for 2017-2018.
Bishop's Services Appeal continues to make possible important ministries in the diocese. New to this year’s Appeal is a positive response to a request from Pope Francis who asked that annulment
fees be eliminated to make it easier for those individuals to receive this very important ministry of reconciliation.
The work of the Seafarer’s Center continues to expand, as does industrial and economic growth here in Southwest Louisiana. The wonderful work done by Catholic Charities is observed throughout this local church of Southwest Louisiana and into Southeast Texas as they partner with other agencies, coordinating donations and services, and allowing so many to heed Christ’s call. Additionally, Catholic Charities continues to expand services to our outlying parishes in a variety of ways.
The Diocese also continues to be so blessed as to have the opportunity to support the education and welfare of 14 seminarians at this time. Their studies will result in properly formed priests to serve well into our future, truly heeding Christ’s call. Contributions may be made in the parishes of the diocese as well as safely and securely by credit card or e-check by clicking here. So. please be generous and Heed the Call of Christ.
Bishop Provost's Appeal Message for 2017/2018
My dear People of God,
In March 2017, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, marked the fourth year of his pontificate. On the day after his election, the Holy Father challenged us to look honestly at the image we project of the Church. He said that the Church was not an NGO. Rather the Church had to listen to the Voice of the One who called her into existence. Only by listening to the Voice, only by heeding the Call of Christ, could the Church remain sure that she was truly living the mission she was created to accomplish.
From this idea I have chosen the theme for this year’s Bishop’s Services Appeal—Heed the Call of Christ. We must listen, understand and act upon what Christ calls us to do.
As I pointed out at the beginning of our Capital Campaign, Return to the Lord, the Bishop’s Services Appeal must continue its mission and work. While the Capital Campaign addresses future needs, the Bishop’s Services Appeal looks to the present.
The Bishop’s Services Appeal makes up roughly 15% of the revenue of the operational budget for the Diocese of Lake Charles. This annual appeal helps us to “Heed the Call of Christ.” The simple fact is that we cannot expect Catholics from around the nation to fund us or our missions. Until now, the Diocese of Lake Charles was funded in part by grants received from Catholic agencies like Catholic Extension Society, Catholic Home Missions, and the Black and Indian Mission Association. We are grateful for their assistance which has totaled millions of dollars over the last few decades. However, in recent years and in present circumstances, these fine associations have informed us that they are unable to award us grants equal to those in the past. These grants, if we are even able to qualify, will provide less of our funding. For this reason, the Catholics of Southwest Louisiana are being asked to rise to the occasion and “Heed the Call of Christ.” Let us look at a few examples of what the Bishop’s Services Appeal helps fund.
First, our Holy Father asked the dioceses of the world to eliminate fees for annulments and to fund their Diocesan Tribunals through their own resources. Following consultation with the Presbyteral Council and those involved in our Tribunal work, I approved the removal of fees which meant that the Diocese of Lake Charles supports our Tribunal 100%. In the last year, 2016, alone 75 annulment cases were addressed by our Tribunal. Will we continue this vital ministry of reconciliation? We must “Heed the Call of Christ.”
Second, Pope Francis reminds us to welcome the stranger. We do this in our Diocese through the work of the Seafarers’ Center. The Port of Lake Charles is expanding, the number of ships arriving from abroad has increased enormously, and the Seafarers’ Center with its staff comprised of Deacon Lapoint and his dedicated workers provides transportation, information, supplies, and services from which merchant marines across the globe benefit. In this we “Heed the Call of Christ” in welcoming the stranger.
Third, in 2016 over 20% of the Bishop’s Services Appeal went to fund Catholic Charities. Under the effective leadership of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, the hungry are fed, assistance with rent and utilities is given, and training for new careers is offered—to mention only a few programs. In this also we “Heed the Call of Christ.”
Fourth, we presently have 14 men studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Lake Charles. Last year their education totaled just under $500,000.00. We want well-prepared and properly formed priests. They are studying Spanish, taking summer courses in fields that will help their ministry, working in parishes to learn pastoral skills, engaging in mission work abroad, and receiving experience in human, academic, and spiritual formation that will benefit their future service to you, the parishioners. In this way too we “Heed the Call of Christ.”
Finally, the Diocese of Lake Charles promotes programs for the youth of our parishes. Over 300 young people attended the most recent Diocesan Youth Conference. I saw their enthusiasm for the faith in this exciting moment of out-reach for the Diocese. Our Diocesan Youth Office also sponsors a group to attend the annual March for Life in Washington. This year 149 participated, of which 94 were students, traveling in 3 buses. The total cost of this important witness and effort is over $85,000.00, most of which is provided by those participating but the Diocese addresses inevitable cost overflows. The March for Life is an opportunity that cannot be missed to “Heed the Call of Christ.”
So I commend these needs to your prayers and generosity. May our Bishop’s Services Appeal meet its goal and fulfill our mission to “Heed the Call of Christ.”
Please join me in praying our Bishop’s Services Appeal prayer:
Lord, Your Voice established the Church,
and we have the opportunity now to respond to Your Call.
We see the needs of our local Church of Lake Charles,
and we desire to respond in a way that honors You.
May we become more aware of the needs of Your people:
the hungry, the strangers, the young, the troubled, and
those who seek you with a sincere heart.
May this Bishop’s Services Appeal answer those needs
by sharing what we have and who we are.
Help us to heed Your call.
May our Blessed Mother, Mary,
who responded with the generosity of her life,
and our Diocesan Patron, St. Peter Claver,
who went half way around the world to answer Your call
inspire us to do the same.
May Your Call awaken in us the desire to act and give to You.
We ask this in Your Name, Jesus Christ,
for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.
May God bless you and your families and please know of my gratitude for your continual support of our mission in the Diocese of Lake Charles.