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August 16, 1996     The Message
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August 16, 1996

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ust 16, 1996 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 -- Bishop's Forum m Not welcome? ! Last week I began with the question of "Welcome?" The issue is the hospitality of Catholic Chris- tians toward those we do not know whether they are from other lands or from down the street. In places around the United States there is a growing intensity of feeling about the issue of immi- grants and the obligation of our country toward them. The debate about welfare at the national level is part of that enormous economic concern for both the local and na- tional governments. My intent here is not to engage that debate, but rather to challenge all individuals and families to review personal and familial atti- : tudes toward those unknown to them. To examine attitudes formed, not from knowledge or experi- ence, but from lack of knowledge; and bluntly stated, attitudes founded in ignorance. I grew up in Harrison County, Ind., a white Caucasian. My family is rooted in Gettelfinger and Kiesler ancestry. Some Irish blood can be identified with my maternal grandmother whose name is Gill. Her parents were natives of County Kildare, Ire- land, while my paternal side of the family were migrds of the Alsace-Lorraine Region on the French-German frontier. I am not certain about the locale from which the Kieslers immigrated. By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER My family, my ancestors, were welcomed to this country by some- one. This does not mean that there were absolved from having to be "processed." Nonetheless, they came and were allowed to become citizens of this country. My ancestry is, for the most part, of the Catholic faith. They en- tered this country when it was, de- spite all the protections of the Con- stitution of the United States, a Christian Protestant nation. In my early childhood, race was a mystery to us. There was only one Negro family in Harrison County in the early 1940s. (I do not have the exact data to support that statistic, but the numbers were of that nature.) For us kids, Negroes wei, e not a source of fear, they were to us a curiosity. We never ever considered what it must have felt like to them to be "a curiosity" to onlookers. Difference of language?! It was never a concern for us, nor a source of fear. Only in retrospect. Let me explain. Little did I realize that because of World War I German speaking families were discouraged from speaking their native tongue. Indiana forbade Ger- man to be spoken in the public schools. I learned this long after I had entered St. Meinrad Seminary. The village of St. Meinrad was a German-speaking community. It never occurred to me as a child that my fam- ily was of German descent until I learned that my Dad's middle name was "Adolph." I was born in 1935. The United States fought the First World War. World War II was brewing and erupted during my early childhood. Germans were the enemy. Dad did not use his middle name, only the initial. In 1941 my dad began was hired by the "Gov- ernment Depot," (a kid's recollection of the formal title} in Jeffersonville, Ind., some 30 miles from our home in Harrison County. Hehad to get a job since the family farm could not provide enough income to feed our family of eight children and our parents. The family farm could not support his parents and our family of ten, too. (He was the youngest of his family and expected to stay home to take care of his parents as long as they lived.) At Jeffersonville, there was a compound for Prisoners of War. In this case, it was a camp for POWs from other countries, including German pris- oners. One day, Dad reported that he had learned that a German prisoner of war by the name of"Get- telfinger" was in the Jeffersonville compound. In my innocence, I asked Dad if he talked to the man. In his inimitable way, he conveyed to me that to do so would have been foolhardy, if not dangerous. These are obstacles to hospitality: difference, ignorance, fear, language, and threat. To be concluded next week. Commentary JUSTIN CLEMENTS Office of Stewardship and Development years ago in a central city, the members of a nondenominational Chris- congregation who had been in a rented hall decided their own place of wor- During a se- B of community meetings the talked about what should look like how to pay .for it. They they did not want to sad- small faith family with So they considered ways gton ___ page 4 longterm goal is "a more she persuaded Kauffman -- a retired Dis- of Columbia public school who had been sorting as one of the food bank's annual volunteers -- to its first full-time direc- outreach. community that is hun- so much to learn about better take care of them- limited resources Kauffman ex- "and the community so much to give.., has learn about the corn- without food," Money is not a four letter word to raise enough money to pay for their new church "up front." They ultimately decided that every homeowner member or family would secure a home equity loan or second mortgage and donate the money for the new church. The debt for the new church would then belong to each mem- ber, not to the community. In another Indiana town, a Catholic parish needed to build a new parish center. As parish leaders considered several fund raising options the pastor noted that the cost of the new building was equal to twice the weekly of- fertory collections over a two- year period. So the parish coun- cil asked each contributing parishioner/household to double the amount of their weekly offer- tory gifts for a period of two years to pay for the new center. In a third Indiana village, a rapidly growing Catholic parish desperately needed a new church. An accountant from the parish noticed that, on average, parish- loners were contributing slightly less than two percent of their av- erage household income to the weekly collection. His calcula- tions showed that, if average parish contributions would in- crease to three percent of average household income (an average ad- ditional weekly per household contribution of $9), within five years the parish would be able to accumulate enough money to pay for their new church. In recent weeks, readers of the Message have read about more than $32,000,000 in capital im- provement projects currently planned or underway for parishes and schools throughout our dio- cese. What an exciting time, and what a testament to the vitality and lively faith of the Catholic Church and people of southwest- ern Indiana! For a diocese our size, $32,000,000 is obviously a lot of money. Who will pay for these many projects? Mostly gen- erous parishioners and others who will benefit from the new buildings and improvements. All of us know that nothing elicits more animated discussion or arouses more feelings in our parishes and schools than the subject of money. Unfortunately what many people think about money is tainted by one of the most misquoted passages from Sacred Scripture. Chapter 6, verse 10, of St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy does NOT read "Money is the mot of all evils" but "The love of money is the root of all evils." A major difference! Yet how much of our attitude about money is severely flawed by this frequent misquote! Money is neither good nor evil. It's only money. Money can cor- rupt, but it also can ennoble. Money can destroy, but it also can build. Money can enslave, but it also can liberate. Money can kill, but it also can give life. Money can be used to threaten Letter Continued from page 4 creation and care of human life. I'm no.t sure it needs to be re- peated here, but, obviously, sex- ual abstinence needs to be pro- moted among young people. Third, we must make serious ef- forts to remove the obstacles to adoption. While many individu- als have done wonderful and beautiful things in the lives of children they have adopted, our government can and should pro- vide incentives to parents who are willing to adopt. In speaking with various peo- ple who are sincerely concerned about these issues, I have found many real-life ways to help achieve these objectives. For in- stance: In Evansville, efforts are un- derway to establish a group of community leaders to speak to our young people about the im- portance of abstinence and per- sonal responsibility during their teenage years. In Bloomington, Indiana, com- munity leaders are currently raising money to fund the Han- and intimidate, but it also can be used to influence and educate. How we use money makes it good or evil. Good stewards view money as another of God's many gifts, a portion of which they feel obliged to return to God in gratitude. This is not a new revelation or a recent teaching; it has always been one of the fundamental tenets of our Christian faith. As southwestern Indiana Catholics seek to raise more than $32,000,000 for capital im- provement projects, or nearly $3,000,000 to fund dozens of much-needed programs and ser- vices through the Catholic Parishes Campaign (CPC), or millions of dollars annually to operate our 73 parishes and 30 schools, we should be reassess- ing our faith, not our check- books. nah House. The Hannah House is designed to provide shelter and encouragement to women who are pregnant and alone and need support to carry their pregnancy to term. Just this year, Congress has acted on legislation which would provide tax credits to families who adopt. This would signifi- cantly reduce the legal costs as- sociated with adoption. These initiatives need and de- serve the support of our leaders in government and our local community. I am committed to working to implement these ideas throughout southwestern Indiana. We need to remember that our work in support of human life at every level has barely begun. We must continue our efforts to ensdre that we are creatfflg a society where the right to life extends to every per- son; a society where an infant is welcomed with loving care, ade- quate food, decent housing, and quality education; a society where all children are empow- ered to live. Stewardship of Treasure is not about our finances; it's about our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ and how that faith plays out in our devotion and commitment to our church. Eternally grateful to God for the many blessings we have received, good stewards do not ask: "Can we afford it?" but: "Can we rearrange our priorities to provide a greater place for the needs of our parish and diocesan familiesT' St. Paul says it best in the clos- ing verses of I Timothy: "Warn (people) not to set their hopes on money.., but on God... who gives us all that we need for our happiness. Tell them.., to do good, and be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share-- this is the way they can save . , . for the future if they want to make sure ofthe only life that is real.  I regret that this paragraph will have the effect of politiciz- ing this letter, but I think it is important that people who are concerned about issues related to human life be made aware of Congressman Hostettler's posi- tion. To fully understand his point of view on these issues, we need to look beyond what he says and examine how he votes as a member of Congress. Pnen given the opportunity to help families adopt, Mr. Hostettler voted "no.  When given the op- portunity to raise the incomes of working families falling below the poverty line, Mr, Hostettler voted "no." When given the op- portunity to save programs that give disadvantaged children a "Head Start  in life, Mr. Hostet- tler voted "no." As a nation, we should work to build a better life for everyone. Mr. Hostettler's votes undermine that possibil. it),. Thank you for allowing me to express my views. Jonathan Weinzapfel St. Philip