At this time of year, individuals throughout the Diocese of Syracuse come together to bring HOPE to our diocese and hope for the future of our Church.
The HOPE Appeal supports 27 programs and ministries within the Diocese of Syracuse including Catholic Schools; Seminarian, Clergy and Deacon Education; Family/Respect Life, Catholic Charities, Hospital Ministry and Catholic TV.
“I feel honored to witness the amazing generosity of the people of our diocese,” said Beth Hoey, director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. “To date, over 7,000 people have supported the HOPE Appeal. That is 7,000 beacons of Christ’s light shining throughout our seven-county diocese. This is the light of hope — hope for the future of our Church.”
The HOPE Appeal kicked off in September with a goal of $4.5 million. “It is a big number,” Hoey said, “but we can reach our goal when we all come together as one Church. We can do so much more together than we could ever do alone.”
Last year, over 17,000 people contributed. You can donate at www.syrdio.org; call to make a donation at 315-472-0203; or mail your contribution to HOPE Appeal, 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.
‘Serving those who need us’
“When you give to the HOPE Appeal you are touching hearts, supporting others in growing in their faith and serving those who need us,” Hoey said. “You enable us to do the work we are called to do.”
Msgr. Ronald C. Bill was among the original group of leaders, including Bishop Frank J. Harrison, Bishop Thomas J. Costello and Msgr. Robert B. Davern, who came together to create an annual appeal to ensure the ministries of the diocese would continue. “We were looking to our future and wanted the whole diocese to come together as one,” Msgr. Bill said. “We named it HOPE Appeal because it provides funds we need for our ministries today that will provide a foundation for the future of our Church. It inspires hope.
“I look back at all these years of the HOPE Appeal and see all the good work that has been accomplished that otherwise wouldn’t have. I see so many people that have been helped throughout our diocese. It makes me feel good to have been a part of it at the beginning and it inspires me that so many continue to support it.”
“The HOPE Appeal makes everything we do possible,” said Bob Walters, director of adolescent catechesis and discipleship for the diocese. “Our goal is to bring teens and adults into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are committed to our work, but it is the generosity of everyone that makes our plans a reality.”
This is exemplified by the diocesan Totus Tuus (Totally Yours) program. It hires young adults who are passionate about their Catholic faith to serve as summer missionaries, and it also collaborates with parishes to offer weeklong parish mission programs designed to teach and inspire children and youth.
‘On fire for the Lord’
Walters described Jacob Cottet, one of the missionaries from this summer’s program, as a “young man on fire for the Lord and for our Church.”
Cottet, who is studying physics at Le Moyne College, grew up in Strathmore and attended Most Holy Rosary Church; then after sixth grade he went to Holy Cross parish.
Jacob first got involved in Totus Tuus as a participant for two summers when he was 16 and 17. “I really enjoyed it. I was impressed by the missionaries and their joy.”
In high school, he was friends with college students who became missionaries for Totus Tuus. They always talked about how awesome it was.
Applying to be a missionary himself was the next step in his “journey of faith,” Jacob said.
He now knows that it takes work and commitment to the program to become a missionary.
“I was surrounded by 12 other people my age, who were all very strong in their faith,” he said. “It is a special community. In my school experience over the years and even now, I didn’t have that community. It was edifying and inspiring to have people around you who love Jesus.”
“The training pushed my limits. I am an introvert and sometimes it is difficult to work with other people for an extended period of time. I had to learn how to deal with that. The answer was prayer — and I don’t say that as a cliché. Prayer was where I found my strength to keep going and keep learning, and keep teaching. It was much more challenging than I thought it would be, but in an edifying way. When I left, I felt stronger in my faith.”
It’s about Church’s future
Jacob is grateful for the time in Totus Tuus this summer. He said the little things every day impressed him and inspired him. “The kids were so engaged, the questions from the kids in class (fifth and sixth graders), they asked the most profound questions and had strong faith. They shared things in their lives. I was humbled that they cared for me too.”
When asked why he had such hope for the future of our Church, Jacob responded, “I hope because Jesus tells me there is hope. I experience it in prayer. And through Totus Tuus, I saw how the missionaries shared their joy. Younger people relate to younger kids and can relate the faith in a tangible way.”
“I came to appreciate the humanity of the Church and got to meet and work with so many people who work in the Church. People are people. Now, it is easier to see Christ in other people in their humanity.”
Jacob plans to continue to be an active member in the Church. “I have a love for teaching the faith and teaching Scripture and theology. I might be involved in catechesis and youth ministry.”
Supporting the HOPE Appeal makes experiences like Jacob’s possible.