Annual Catholic Services Appeal launches Nov. 5-6

By Catholic Spirit Staff

In the next few weeks, Bishop Joe Vásquez will launch the 2016-2017 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). This year’s CSA theme of “Living Water” draws inspiration from Pope Francis, who proclaimed that “The Holy Spirit is the living water that quenches the thirst in our lives because he tells us that we are loved by God as his children, that we can love God as his children and with his grace we can live as children of God, like Jesus.”
The CSA offers us the opportunity to join with our sisters and brothers in Christ throughout our diocese to do the Lord’s work — work that no one parish or individual can do alone. 
“Living water is a sign of life; that is what our Catholic faith is all about, fostering hope and life in people,” Bishop Vásquez said. 
“The CSA offers every parishioner a chance to open their hearts and be involved in diverse ministries that affect our entire Catholic community.”
Our Catholic faith is vibrant and flourishing in the Diocese of Austin. Diocesan ministries serve as resource centers for the parishes –– from training and ongoing formation for priests and deacons, to training for directors of religious education (DREs), youth ministers and Catholic school principals –– the CSA allows these and many other vital programs across the diocese to flourish.
The CSA also helps provide pastoral care and retreats for post-abortive women and men supporting them as they seek prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal. More than 50 percent of the CSA funds go toward clergy formation, including deacons, seminarians and priests currently serving in parishes. Last year the Diocese of Austin spent more than $1 million for the formation of our future priests, and more than $1 million to care for our retired priests.
“The Catholic Services Appeal helps retired priests maintain their dignity. Through the CSA, we make sure they have housing and medical care in their sunset years,” said Scott Whitaker, Secretariat Director for Stewardship, Development and Communications for the Austin Diocese. 
It is not feasible for parishes to carry these financial burdens alone –– health care costs more than $15,000 annually per retired priest and educational costs run approximately $40,000 a year per seminarian –– but when shared, the burden is lightened and amazing things happen, Whitaker said. 
Every parish benefits from the CSA when seminarians are ordained priests, when college students are engaged in their Catholic faith, when the incarcerated are ministered to by our clergy and volunteers, when people are confirmed in the faith, and when families in need find refuge and comfort. Last year, the CSA provided Catholic Charities of Central Texas, the social justice arm of the diocese, with $410,000, to assist with funding programs such as disaster relief to those affected by floods, women in crisis due to unplanned pregnancy, families who were homeless and people requiring legal assistance. This commitment to stewardship allows the diocesan church to provide the necessary resources that one parish could not provide alone. 
At the end of this month, a letter from Bishop Vásquez will arrive in the mailbox of every registered Catholic household, thanking each for their past support and inviting them to participate in the 2016-2017 CSA commitment weekend Nov. 5-6. As part of the CSA theme of “Living Water,” that weekend at Mass each family will receive a container that can be filled with holy water from the parish baptismal font or dispenser and used in their home to remind them that only Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings of our souls. 
“When we open our hearts and receive his Living Water, our own thirsts are quenched, and then we are able to help quench the thirst of others. Let us look into our hearts today to help those in need,” Bishop Vásquez said.

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