(Note: this is part of an email conversation I had with a parishioner who’s dear to my heart. I am sharing it here because I think some of you will have some great insight on this. Maybe I tow the “party line” too much, I don’t know. But I do feel that we need to support the larger Church, the Body of Christ.)

I have heard a couple of people make comments about sending money away from the parish in the annual appeal our Bishop does (the BAA – Bishop’s Annual Appeal). What I think people don’t understand – and I’m being open here; I don’t really understand myself why people do not send their money – is that the parish has to pay the Diocese an “assessment” every month. The Bishop has the option to do his campaign (the appeal) every year, or to just increase the “tax” or “assessment.”

The parish is not separate from the Diocese; we are all part of the larger Church, one Body and one Blood, just as Corpus Christi reminded us this last Sunday. By having the BAA, the Bishop is reminding us all of the work of the larger Church; of the help the poor receive (such as the larger St. Vincent de Paul group and works of the Joint Organization of Inner City Needs (JOIN) and many other missions works), of the work of the Communications Office, which brings us our diocesan newspaper; of the support our parish receives from the development, finance, and religious education offices.

We cannot do business as a parish without the Diocese. Likewise, the Diocese is dependent on the many members of the Body to make its larger work possible. Father Kevin’s soup kitchen at Holy Family is such a wonderful work, but he could not support it on the money his parish has. He needs the Diocese to make this larger work possible.

It’s sort of like grandparents. You, the grandparent, are not their parent, but you are still related, and still important. The Diocese is not our parish, true. The money is going “out” of the parish, true. But our parish has received quite a few grants from the Diocese, and our parish is also using the Parish Aid Fund and the Diocesan offices to help us with our building and our loans.

I know that the Diocese is not perfect, but neither is our parish. There are probably people who take exception with me, who think I get paid too much, who think I spend too much time on the phone, etc etc. Is it right for them to withhold their offering? There are people who think we should not build a new building. Is it right for them to change parishes? There are people who think we will only get like “everyone else” when we get bigger. Can we ever get better as a parish if these people do not work to make the change, to express their opinions in a charitable and constructive way, and question just as Jesus did from his childhood days when his parents found him in the Temple?

The Diocese has its problems. I have heard all about them in various forums. I don’t support the Diocese or our parish because they are perfect, and you shouldn’t either. I do it because Jesus left us with the Church, and the Church needs our support. Sometimes financial support is not possible, and sometimes it is. When we give to God, he gives back.