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.
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
Like many young people, Derik Peterman fell away from the Catholic faith when he went away to college. But when he found his way back to the Church, God reminded him of “this call He had placed in my heart” years before, to serve as one of His holy priests.
“Although the priesthood was always in the back of my mind, I really didn’t know how to respond to that calling,” he said.
Then, at the first Mass he attended following a long absence, the pastor asked any men thinking about the priesthood to come talk to him. “I was blown away,” Derik said.
After attending a discernment group with other college-aged men and then exploring different religious orders and seminaries, Derik found his spiritual home at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He has been preparing to serve as a priest for our Archdiocese for the past six years.
“I’ve had a lot of peace — each year growing in that confidence that this is indeed, where the Lord has called me,” he said. “God willing, I’ll be ordained a priest in June.”
Gifts to the CSA support men, like Derik, who are studying for the priesthood at Sacred Heart, as well as men in formation for the permanent diaconate.
“I’m looking forward to walking with people in their journeys and helping to bring them closer to Jesus,” Derik said. “However God wants me to serve them.”
Witnessing Christ by welcoming others to our faith
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.”
Witnessing Christ in service to those in need
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.
Witnessing Christ in our schools
Each day at Most Holy Trinity Elementary, a specialized charging cart containing 30 laptops travels from classroom to classroom, keeping students at the forefront of technology.
“We’re enlightening them,” said Karina Lepkowski, interim principal. “Having these items in our students’ hands is enhancing their educational growth and their understanding of what it means to be a contributing member of the community beyond our walls.”
Most Holy Trinity was able to purchase this technology, as well as licenses for Microsoft Office 365, with a grant from the School Outreach Fund, which is funded through the CSA. The Catholic Schools Office provided more than $955,190 in grant funding for special projects at archdiocesan schools during the 2017-18 academic year.
Aside from learning basic keyboarding and technology skills, students are able to collaborate with their peers around in the world. The school’s technology instructor guides them in making smart online choices as digital citizens that reflect their Catholic identity.
“We do projects on how when we post online, it’s there forever, regardless if it’s deleted, and knowing the weight of the words that you’re choosing to use online,” Karina explained.
Holy Trinity hopes its investments in technological advancements will lead to more growth of its student population. “Without CSA donors, we’d just be another school plodding along in the traditional fashion,” Karina said.
Witnessing Christ through vocations
Realizing society’s focus on secular careers over vocations, the Office of Priestly Vocations has launched an initiative to encourage young people to discern God’s specific plan for them. Held quarterly, “Cultivating the Call” begins with Holy Hour and includes a casual dinner, Adoration, Benediction, inspiring music, and testimonies from priests, religious brothers and sisters, and seminarians.
Parents are able to bring their children to these gatherings, but anyone who works with young people can attend as well to learn about engaging in more conversations about vocations, according to Father Joe Horn, director of Priestly Vocations.
“We don’t talk about it, we don’t have that conversation, listen to a young person and encourage them to accept God's vocation, or to look at their future as a vocation rather than just a career builder,” he explained.
The CSA supports vocations to the priesthood and religious life through regional gatherings like “Cultivating the Call” and “The Watchmen,” as well as discernment retreats and a vocation day for junior high students at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and events with Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.
The Priestly Vocations Office also provides outreach to parishes and schools and vocations literature, brochures, and prayer cards.
“Listening to God’s call for your life will lead to your ultimate happiness, not choosing the career that gives you the most money or seems most thrilling,” said Father Horn. “A vocation is not something you do, it’s who you are.”