Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
There is something special about the Christian spirit.That was very evident to me this last week as I participated in two major events in the life of the archdiocese. On Thursday, January 31, supporters of Catholic education gathered at Marquette University for the annual Catholic Schools Dinner. Dr. Kathleen Cepelka, our superintendent, delivered a wonderful address about our commitment to Catholic schools and our vision to provide affordable Catholic education to as many Catholic youth as possible – not just next year, but for decades to come.
Principals and teachers from our primary and secondary schools were also present, in force, to express their personal testimony to the excellence that is Catholic education. It must have been gratifying to the Stollenwerk Family and the Erica P. John foundations to see such enthusiasm and support for Catholic education. Both have been at the forefront of maintaining Catholic education through some very lean years.
Today, we are blessed with a strong central office staff, the committed Catholic Schools’ Commission, and support from pastors, priests and lay directors. Coupled with the on-going involvement of members of our Catholic universities and colleges through the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium, our Catholic schools are envisioning the future with confidence. I’m proud to say that we could even serve as a model for Catholic education throughout the United States. Allow me to share a special note of thanks to Cardinal Stritch University’s Dr. Jamie and Irene Loftus, who co-chaired the special event.
As I left Marquette University on that very cold winter evening, my heart was warm. Warm with the knowledge that we are on the right path and that our Catholic students will have an environment, which will allow them to be formed by the faith, in a community that will enable them to express their faith without fear of coercion or intimidation.
I’m asking you to mark your calendars for another great event for Catholic education. On Nov. 2, 2013, All Souls Day, we’ll have another opportunity to show our support for Catholic education at Mount Mary University (which is celebrating 100 years of higher Catholic education) in a walk benefitting archdiocesan schools right here in southeastern Wisconsin, called “Soles for Catholic Education.” I will be walking and I hope you’ll walk with me.
This past Saturday we held our annual Campanile Society Dinner. Last year’s Chairpersons of the Catholic Stewardship Appeal, Jon and Libby Baranko, agreed to chair the Appeal again this year! There is a great picture of them on the leadership-giving brochure. Last Year the Campanile Society donated more than 46% of the entire campaign revenue.
One of my three priorities is stewardship, which is not just about monetary giving, but about developing an attitude of understanding that all we possess has been given as gift from God. It’s up to us to use these gifts wisely to promote our love for God and our love for our brothers and sisters. When I addressed those in attendance at the dinner, I felt as if this were a shareholders meeting. In a sense, each person there owned a piece of the “rock,” the rock of St. Peter upon whom Christ built His Church.
This year’s CSA theme is “Alive in Faith.” This ties in so well with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI and our mission of evangelization. As I travel throughout the archdiocese, I consistently meet the most faith-filled people who are in love with Jesus and His Church. It motivates me to work as hard as I can to fulfill the confidence that so many of the faithful have in my leadership as archbishop. It was a wonderful evening because we shared a common bond, our love for Christ and His Church. There is nothing more joyful than to share an evening with the friends of Jesus. We may have our difficulties as an archdiocese, but together, I know that we will do our best to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the February 5, 2013 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.