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October 10, 1997     The Message
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October 10, 1997
 

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O_ ctober 10, 1997 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 "Critical needs of the poor" By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER There are indeed critical needs facing the poor of our land. The changes in any major program with which we have grown accustomed can cause difficulty, even havoc, if we are not prepared for them when they begin to be put into place. So it is with changes in the welfare program. Next week in this place will be the full text of "Crit- ical Needs of the Poor" so each of you can read what the board of directors of the Indiana Catholic Confer- ence have written in an open letter to Governor Frank O'Bannon, the legislators and all persons of good will. Last Friday afternoon it was my privilege to meet with Governor O'Bannon to hand-deliver to him a Copy of our "open letter" in a more formal way. Arch- shop Daniel Buechlein, the General Chairman of e Indiana Catholic Conference had asked me to do so on behalf of the entire board. . In advance of the meeting I had forwarded a copy ot our "open letter" to Governor O'Bannon. He had obviously studied it. He has some great concerns about it as we do, not because of its intent but how it will be implemented in the long run, especially if local govern- ment COmes on hard times with money. It is particular- ly for those moments we will have to assume our full responsibility as members of the community, along with government leaders and private business and industry. All of our energies will be put to the test. For 17 of my 36 years of priesthood, I lived and worked in the inner city of Indianapolis. You may recall the governmental decision to "de-institutional- ize" many of our citizens. People who did not meet the measure of "mentally ill" were released, as were retarded persons who were judged as being able to fend for themselves. The results of th e legislation were effective, in one sense of the word. Fewer tax dollars were needed for the institutions once needed for those living on the margins of society for whatever reason. The for- mer residents were released to their own families and communities. Because so many had become alienated from their own, they were left to fend for themselves. The population of "street people" grew enormously. We, the communities to which these sisters and brothers of ours belong, were not ready for them. In my inner city experience, I have met thousands of "street people" whose home really is the street. It is not a figment of my imagination. Although hungry every day and many times suffering from the miseries that come from ill weather, they were neither mean nor intent on doing harm. They were indeed unable to work for a living for equally innumerable and honest reasons. Furthermore, they seemed to carve out a life that was not a source of untiappiness to them. These brothers and sisters of mine were in so many ways an inspiration, for they lived simply and were grateful for the food that others could provide. Their plea for shelter so often was the freedom to sleep in an external alcove of a building or on the porch of the Cathedral chapel. How often I awakened them as I unlocked the church doors. They found warmth in an open church as well as in the ability to "be with" friendly "strangers." Soup kitchens, once only a memory of the sur- vivors of the Great Depression, came back in response to the need for daily sustenance for these folks living on the margins of society, no longer in governmental institutions. Untold generosity and uncountable hours have been and continue to be spent in communities, most of them by members of faith communities. These must continue. Governor O'Bannon is as concerned as we are about the full implementation of the changes i welfare and its funding. With us, he knows the need. He too lived for eight years very, near the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. He experienced daily the "failure" of the legislation which de-instutionalized so many living on the margins. There was no provision to care for those who "fell through the cracks. Nor was the com- munity to provide what government did not. What will be the safety net for those on welfare who either can't get jobs or who are simply incapable of working for their own livelihood? Jesus reminded us that the "poor you will always have with you." How will we reach out to .our sisters and our brothers and our children who are no less than we are, who are poor and more often than not, helpless? World Mission Sunday will be celebrated On October 19 . In his message for World Mis- Sion Sunday this year, Poe John Paul II reminds us thatPlhis is "an important celebration in the life of the Church . The Pope emphasizes that "Its importance Commentary By REV. MSGR. CLARENCE A. SCHLACHTER Diocesan Director increases the nearer we come to the year 2000." ,, The Holy Father speaks of the privilege, grace and obli ation Which fal 1 ,_ g " ,,o ever mem thech. - Y ber of urcn to take part in the global effort for evangelization. Jesus Christ, the Po e sta th r,,l, ,- P tes, is ^e:,,,y oavior of the worl " nd, he adds %; ...... d , o,,t tins salva- uon is for every person.., every man and WOman on ea the rk,ht t- '- rth has Inte Y oe told about it." srai to the celebratio yorld Mission e ..... n.of cllection for ., ,unaay is me .1_  me Vmoacation of meFaith ,rt - o ..  nat collection will be ;icdene= ,tis year as follows: 6 0 evan ' mr the pastoral and Poor,lmg programs of the Asia "- taith COmmunities .m ", Africa, parts of Latin America - - p .... and the islands of the aclfic through the Society for pth::ztPf:rglqn f the Faith; 31 e missionary work d f OUr horn- hi,---,,. Y missions in the 'orateSthrou can Bo--, - gh the Amer- and Iin:nU f Catholic Missions, ,1. _ e percent for the work of e Catholic Near East "SOciation. Welfare ._ "'y' uu'ector of the Propa a- ta: ot the Faith for the Lnitge ,ares noted: "This ce Calls us i__ . lebration t. , uy virtue of the faith we "ave recewed, to be actively committed to the Ch '. Wo 1A.._ urch s A, r'"t'wlcle rnissiona w ,re are-ca.,^. .  ork. .,u to parheipate in this work through prayer and generous sacrifice." Acknowledging the extraor- dinarily generous response of U.S. Catholics on World Mission Sunday in the past, Bishop McCormack cited this assistance as "vitally necessary to meet the growing needs of the Church in the Missions: as new dioceses are formed; as increasing num- bers of young men and women hear Christ's call to the priest- hood and religious life; as areas devastated by war or natural disasters are rebuilt; as other areas, long-suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church." Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mis- sion Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offer- ings to the Propagation of the Faith from Catholics worldwide Mission dioceses  about 1,000 at this time, mostly in Asia and Africa receive regular annual assistance for day-to-day pas- toral and evangelizing activities. In addition, these mission dio- ceses receive help for catecheti- cal programs, for the education of seminarians and religious novices, for the work of religious communities, for communica- tion and transportation needs, and for assistance to local faith-communities to build chapels and churches. This year, significantly on World Mission Sunday, October 19, Pope John Paul II will solemnly declare St. Therese of Lisieux a "doctor" of the uni- versal Church. In his message for World Mission Sunday, the Pope says of St. Therese, who is co-patron with St. Francis Xavier of the Church's worldwide mis- sionary work: "An exemplary answer to the universal call to take responsibility for mission- ary activity was given in the past by St. Therese of the Child Jesus... The life and teaching of St. Therese demonstrates the close bond between: mission and contempla- tion. In fact, there can be no mission without a life of intense prayer and  communion with the Lord and His:sacrifice on the Cross." St. Therese wanted very much to be a mis- sionary; to go to Viet- nam. But her poor health made this impos- sible. She died of tuber- culosis at 24, a century ago this year, never hav- ing left her Carmelite convent in France. She was, however, assigned by her religious superi- or to support through her prayers, her sufferings and her letters of encouragement the work of two missionaries. To the priest sent to China, St. Therese wrote: "I shall be truly happy to work with you for the salvation of souls... I wanted to be a {missionary} through love and penance..." She also observed: "Beyond all doubt it is by prayer and sacrifice that we can best help our missionaries." St. Therese shows us that effective participation in the Church's mission to ALL PEO- PLES is possible and necessary for all of us, no matter what the circumstances of our lives," Bishop McCormack explained. "Her life shows how we can be Christ's missionaries, not in spite of our limitations, but through them -- and through our faith in Christ's power. Celebrating its 175th anniver- sary this year, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith fosters. i,, FATIP,, YOU mUSTA BEEN THINgIN AT TI,T ,SPIKIAb ANNIVERSARY THE SOCIETY FOR 1TIE IPAATION OF THE FAITH IS CEI,.E9,ATIN6' Tills VEAR- Y0O SgOT A 175!( " -- Cartoon by Mark Armstrong among Catholics, a deeper spir- it of the Church's universal mis- sion. The Propagation of the Faith seeks prayer and sacrifice for the Church's worldwide mis- sionary work, and provides on-going help for the pastoral and evangelizing programs of the Church in Africa, Asia the islands of the Pacific and remote regions of Latin America. Though there is a strong ten- dency toward individualism in our culture, there are many expressions of generosity here in the United States in times of cri- sis. In the recent floods in North Dakota, so many people came to the assistance of the needy flood victims. The Holy Spirit is indeed present. Mission is all about being witness of God's presence in our sharing of the blessings we have received. Many times people ask a mis- sionary: "Why are you being so kind?" and his response has always been: "'Becau ! am a Christian missioner, a follower of Jesus." It depends on each one of us to respond appropri- ately to the miserable, heart- breaking plight of child workers. For our radical response to their plight becomes a measure of our fidelity to the Lord Himself who said: "Whoever welcomes one such child in My name wel- comes Me." (Mt 18:5) A child was born, long, long ago, who found no room any- where but in a shepherd's stable. On Mission Sunday your gift helps to give Him and all the poor of the world a decent shel- ter, for He said, "Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me." Pope John Paul speaks of the many people who have not yet been reached by the  News of Salvation and he says, "To a certain degree, in fact, each of you is personally responsible for those millions of people who are 'without faith,'" .