Today is Project Advance Launch Sunday. The onus is on the Archbishop, archdiocesan Project Advance staff, and me, to remind you of the reasons we have for supporting this annual campaign. Frankly, for me, this is an easy task. Mainly for two reasons.
The first is simply that we are privileged to belong to a very fine diocese, in every respect. A diocese that enjoys very fine leadership, that knows where it wants to go, both in material and in spiritual terms. A diocese that has a vision and an energy that are truly remarkable. It should be helped, if only for this reason, that given its spiritual health and its energy, we just know that a contribution to Project Advance is always money well spent.
The second reason to give, dearest to my heart, are the ministries that are assumed by the archdiocese, and that make of our archdiocesan church an evangelical church of which we should be truly proud. Allow me to give four examples. The archdiocese has understood that prison ministry is a ministry too important and too challenging to be left to the scant resources of parishes that happen to be in the vicinity of prisons. And so they have assumed responsibility for this all-important ministry and are working wonders. Secondly, the Archdiocese appreciates the sacred importance of hospitality to migrants enough to have someone on staff full-time to enable parishes to sponsor refugees. Thirdly, with the help of the Scalabrinian fathers, the archdiocese is doing wonders to provide pastoral support for the thousands of Latin American migrant workers in the Lower Mainland. And fourthly, but not least, the Archdiocese has hired Lucy Rodjito, who happens to be a parishioner of St. Mary’s, to enable as many parishes as possible to start up Vanspec, a special one-on-one catechetical programme for children with special needs, and who therefore cannot easily fit into our PREP programmes. Some of these ministries are funded at least in part by Project Advance. Even those that are not directly funded by Project Advance benefit indirectly from this annual campaign, because its success frees up archdiocesan funds which would otherwise have been needed to fund the necessities covered by Project Advance.
To sum up my reasons: we enjoy the privilege of belonging to a church that is thriving and growing. Reason enough to want to contribute to Project Advance.
One last point: Project Advance’s success has historically been due to the high degree of generosity of a very small proportion of the Catholic population of the Lower Mainland. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could change this statistic, and make this year the year when participation increased, so that we might come closer to being able to say that this year’s success is truly attributable to the participation of the whole church! I know that the envelopes that you receive suggest amounts that are perhaps beyond what you think you can afford to give. Don’t worry about the suggested amounts. It’s not about the amount, it’s about being a part of an archdiocesan adventure. I also know that the significant donors, those who ultimately make it possible for the Archdiocese to reach its goal, are strongly motivated when they see that the cause to which they contribute enjoys very broad support, however modest it may be.
There you have it: all the reasons in the world to be a part of Project Advance, as a way of saying that we are proud to be a part of the “Church of God that is in Vancouver”, as the Pauline letters put it.
God bless the Archdiocese of Vancouver,