Story and photos by LIZ QUIRIN
While some people continue to think about it, many donors to the Catholic Service and Ministry Appeal (CSMA) choose to give to the diocesan appeal. Giving, they say, is not only good for the soul, it helps untold numbers of people.
CSMA donors speak
Dr. John and Mary Beck of Mary Help of Christians in Chester have been giving to the appeal for 50 years.
“We support our church in many ways,” Mary Beck said.
She said some of the money from the appeal is used to pay a portion of agency employees’ salaries.
The Becks want diocesan ministries to continue, so they give to the appeal. For them, their donations have tended to increase as they get older. Mary Beck said their parents supported them through Catholic schools.
“It was $6.00 a month when I went to a Catholic school,” she said.
Their children went to Gibault Catholic High School, and then continued their studies at Catholic colleges as well.
“This is just the way we do things.” Mary Beck said.
Thomas Determan of St. George in New Baden, said he and his wife have been blessed. “It’s important to give back, and it helps a lot of people in the diocese.”
Msgr. Dennis Schaefer, also a CSMA donor, said this year, for the first time, his St. John the Baptist Parish in Red Bud not only reached but also exceeded its goal.
Giving to the appeal “is a way we can reach out even if we ourselves can’t personally” go to the places and volunteer to fill people’s needs.
‘This is a further extension of the way we can be the arms and hands of Christ,” Msgr. Schaefer said.
Frank Bleyer has been giving to the annual diocesan appeal “for as long as it has been in existence.
Bleyer has lived in Carbondale all his life, except for the years he spent studying at the University of Notre Dame.
He returned home to become a coach at the local high school.
The appeal “is a very good thing,” he said. “It helps a lot of agencies to help a lot of other people, and that’s a good thing.”
The appeal reaches all corners of the diocese, from Catholic Urban Programs in the Metro East to Daystar in Cairo.
Agency personnel provide more than shelter at Holy Angels and more than an education at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis.
Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School
LeNita Cherry graduated from Sister Thea Bowman in 2005. She began her education at the school as a third-grader, she said.
LeNita remembers the difference between Sister Thea Bowman and the public school she left to attend the Catholic school.
The ration of students to teachers was small, so she “received more help from them. It prepared me for my future, for the next level,” LeNita said.
It also gave her family an example of what a Catholic education can mean to a youngster. Her nephew now attends the school.
LeNita went on to Althoff Catholic High School and then graduated with honors from Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis.
Now a graduate student at Lindenwood University, she works and goes to school, hoping to finish her master’s in criminal justice before deciding on whether she wants to apply to the FBI or the U.S. Marshals.
Although it may take her longer to finish this final leg of education, she has been able to study without the additional burden of student loans.
And it all began, she said, at Sister Thea Bowman, where she learned to focus. Sister Thea Bowman has a 100 percent high school graduation rate, according to Sister Margaret Marie Clifford, DC, and a 95 percent rate of enrollment in college.
Sister Margaret Clifford is director of advancement at the school.
In early days, education made a difference in the lives of many people. Now, Sister Margaret said, “it’s important to carry out this evangelization and education mission with the present generation.”
Other diocesan agencies minister to people in need, people who want a hand up not a hand out. If people can’t provide food for their children, they can’t begin to concentrate on finding work.
If people live without heat in their homes, they spend their time concentrating on that problem instead of thinking about work.
If the struggle is about simple needs, the more complex problems are not even addressed, much less solved.
And not all agencies deal directly in services to the poor.
Office of Hispanic Ministry
In various areas of the diocese more than 21,000 Hispanics live and work, according to the 2010 census.
The Office of Hispanic Ministry provides information and assistance to new immigrants, to young people, and the office offers a spiritual respite from the real fears of deportation.
Sister Cecilia Hellmann, ASC, with Lucy Barragan and Ada Jimenez, ministers to Latinos across the diocese, from Cobden to Fairmont City, to Damiansville and Carbondale and Anna — wherever and whenever they are needed.
In a recent meeting, Sister Cecilia and Lucy went to a parish to talk to Hispanic parishioners about their needs.
They talked about the success of young people applying for DACA cards so they can work legally and get a drivers license through a government program.
Jimenez, trained as a lawyer, assists young people in filing their paperwork among her other responsibilities in the office.
Newman Catholic Student Center
When our young adults go away to college, not all of them can attend a Catholic university. In this diocese, the Newman Center provides a Catholic “home away from home” for young adults.
The staff provides a place to bring thoughts and ideas, to talk with like-minded Catholic students and to find a place to worship and strengthen their faith.
While many are not from the diocese, it’s a case of paying it forward or perhaps sideways, since Newman centers in other areas are assisting youth from this diocese.
In some cases, the Newman Center here evangelizes not only the young adult Catholics who seek comfort and support but also those who would join the Church at the Easter Vigil.
Office of Worship
In the Office of Worship, liturgies and special events are planned and supervised. Farm blessings in spring and fall give spiritual support to farmers and their families who work in agriculture.
The Ministry of Presiding at Prayer for Deacons and Lay Leaders focuses on different aspects of liturgies.One aspect concentrates on Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest and the other provides information and training on the Order of Christian Funerals.
Sue Huett, director of the Office of Worship, brings together members of a team to present information and provide opportunities for participants to practice these rites before beginning their ministry in parishes.
If a priest is ill or otherwise unable to attend a weekend Mass, someone who has been trained through the Office of Worship can preside at a weekend liturgy with a Communion service or during funeral rites.
Participants hear about diocesan norms and the qualities of a good presider.
To preside at funeral rites, those who are trained learn about the pastoral care of the dying, about preparing for a funeral liturgy outside of Mass and how the Catholic Church views cremation.
To present this kind of information in a setting conducive to learning about prayer in these circumstances requires research and preparation.
The Office of Worship provides both the expertise and the real practice needed for people who will return to their parishes ready to lead people in prayer.
Because many offices and agencies within the diocese receive funding through the CSMA, other parishes and agencies are encouraged to apply for funds through the CSMA Fund for Ministry.
This money is set aside so that each vicariate receives an annual amount that can be distributed to parishes and agencies that do not receive specific CSMA funds
That allows the funding or partial funding of special projects that parishes or agencies undertake.
For example, parishioners at St. Stephen in Flora wanted assistance with a parish library. They received some funds in this way.
Each year, many requests are made through the vicariates, and the CSMA works to offer some funding.