After my arrival in the diocese, I set forth three principal pastoral objectives that needed to be addressed: increasing vocations to the priesthood; the availability and accessibility of Catholic schools; and the financial stability of the diocese and each parish. Significant strides have been made in the areas of vocations and Catholic schools. Our next hurdle is the maximizing of the resources in each of our parishes and in the diocese to meet the growing challenges of announcing the joy of the Gospel to all men and women in South Jersey.
In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation EVANGELII GAUDIUM, (The Joy of the Gospel) he encourages us to become a missionary Church that ministers even to the peripheries of society. “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says, ’we have always done it this way.’ I invite everyone to be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, style, structures and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters.” (EG #33)
To accomplish the Holy Father’s mandate, we must invest our time, talent and, yes, our treasure in our parish communities. Therefore, it is time for us to come together in a diocesan-wide campaign to raise funds, something that has not happened in our diocese for more than two decades. This historic effort is not so much about bricks and mortar, but rather about the flesh and blood of our parishes, Catholic Schools and the ministries of our missionary Church.
Our theme, CATHOLIC STRONG, is not just a slogan. It is a goal that we can reach together.
To accomplish this, we must: invest in evangelization programs, particularly crafted for youth and young adults; strengthen faith formation programs for families, adults and children; encourage professional development of parish ministers and staff; and continue to expand our social service efforts. In this way we bring the truths of our Catholic faith to more people; serve our neighbors spiritually and practically; and lay the groundwork for the future of the Church in South Jersey.
Ours is a joyful faith that follows the mission of Jesus Christ. CATHOLIC STRONG is a call to make His mission more present in South Jersey by building up the ministries of our parishes through programs of evangelization.
The Sunday Mass is central to our faith lives, and every Mass concludes with the dismissal “Go,” which calls us to bring our faith to serve the needs of children; families; the poor; the immigrant; the refugee; the addicted; the struggling and burdened; and all women and men who look to the Church for spiritual assistance and support.
I ask each of you to prayerfully consider how best to contribute to your parish and the entire Catholic community of South Jersey so that we may become stronger missionary disciples. I hope you will ask questions, offer solutions and act as good stewards of our Faith. May we be CATHOLIC STRONG to ensure, now and far into the future, an active, engaged Church in South Jersey.
With gratitude for the privilege to serve you as your bishop and with firm hope for the future of our Church in South Jersey, I am,
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan D.D.
Bishop Of Camden