CSA gifts allow people to grow with Christ throughout our Archdiocese. Our gifts ensure others also know the Lord through the ministries, programs, and services the CSA funds in the six counties of our Archdiocese.
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Witnessing Christ in our parishes
St. Gabriel parishioners respond generously to the Catholic Services Appeal each year because they know the importance of returning the blessings God has given them, according to Father Marc Gawronski, pastor.
“We’re not a rich parish, by any means — we’re a parish of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and who have jobs that pay by the hour without any insurance,” Father Gawronski said. “Our folks live with lots of daily challenges, but they’re still very grateful to God, and they’re still very generous when it comes to CSA.”
The predominately Hispanic parishioners in southwest Detroit see the benefits of the annual appeal, such as in the younger priests who minister to them in Spanish and in the opportunity to earn certification in lay ministry at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. St. Gabriel’s vibrant faith formation program has flourished, in part because of the formation and support parish catechists receive — in Spanish — from the Archdiocese. As a result of the growth in religious education students, two confirmation celebrations were needed in order to accommodate all of the children and their families in the church.
St. Gabriel identifies a project each year to fund with gifts collected over the parish’s CSA target, as they are returned 100 percent free of the archdiocesan assessment. This year’s project: to restore a bell for the church’s bell tower.
“In any town in Mexico or Latin America, whenever there’s Mass, a bell rings to evangelize people, to remind people that it’s time to come to gather to pray,” Father Gawronski said. “It’s a sound that people long to hear, so, we’re looking forward to restoring that bell with the help of the generosity of our parishioners through the CSA.”
Witnessing Christ as one of His priests
Posie West passed the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament nearly every day without ever stepping through the doors — until a friend invited him inside. Intrigued by the beauty of the music and liturgy, he began attending Mass regularly at our Mother Church.
“A wise man told me once, ‘When God is at work, you sit down and pay attention so you can learn how to play your part,’” he said.
Posie soon felt so at home at the Cathedral that he began the process of becoming Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). “I’ve never been so driven to learn something,” he said. “Understanding the sacraments brought about a new understanding that I was trying to develop with my relationship with God.”
At this year’s Easter Vigil, the Archdiocese of Detroit welcomed him and hundreds of other candidates and catechumens into the Catholic Church, their year of study and formation funded through the CSA.
Josh and Caitlin Gibson entered the Church together at the Easter Vigil in 2018. A series of “nice little nudges” from Josh, who had been studying Catholicism on his own, eventually led Caitlin to join him in exploring the faith. “I remember the first day of RCIA, sitting in Mass and just feeling so at home in the Church,” she said.
Having Josh by her side throughout the process was “absolutely wonderful,” Caitlin added. “Being able to have him there to ask questions, to be able to talk about the things we learned in class, to get confirmed together, was really cool.”
Caitlin and Josh have found sharing one faith for the first time has further strengthened their union, and also had their marriage convalidated at the Easter Vigil. “The sacrament just makes it so much more special,” Caitlin said.
The two are now helping with RCIA classes at their parish, Our Lady of the Lakes in Waterford, sharing the purpose they have found since entering the Church. “It is great to see others with the same spark I was given through grace,” Josh said. “I enjoy watching them grow each week in their faith and understanding. It's a rare and intimate experience to share in the journey of so many people.”
St. Christine Christian Services remains a beacon of hope in northwest Detroit for those in need of its services. But exactly who benefits most from this ministry of nearby Christ the King Parish may be up for debate.
“It has humbled me more than I could have ever imagined and just made me grateful for every day that I can go there and serve,” said Maureen Northrup, a social worker whose position is funded through the Catholic Services Appeal. “I feel like I’m doing the work of a disciple.”
Situated in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood, “St. Christine’s” provides hot meals and groceries through its soup kitchen and food pantry, as well as clothing and assistance with utilities and tasks like obtaining a birth certificate, making a photocopy, or reading a document. “It’s the simple things we all take for granted,” Maureen said. “We give them the assistance they need on a daily basis.”
After Maureen researched food pantries at other social service organizations around the country, St. Christine’s began offering a self-serve pantry program. Instead of clients receiving a box packed with staples, they now choose themselves from what the pantry has available. “It’s about dignity and respect,” Maureen added.
Clients include the homeless and working poor; families, single parents, and grandparents raising grandchildren.
The Parish Empowerment Fund encourages parishes to initiate or enhance evangelization efforts in their communities, and grants also fund scholarships for lay people at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Last year, the CSA provided more than $631,000 in PEF grants to parishes and vicariates.