On Nov. 20, the diocese will mark its third annual FaithWorks Sunday, a day to focus attention on this year’s FaithWorks campaign and the important work of its 16 ministry partners.
Since 2020, FaithWorks Sunday has fallen on the Reign of Christ, the last Sunday of the church year. Peter Mentis, the FaithWorks campaign manager, says the timing is no coincidence. “That Sunday brings forth images of the Kingdom of God, where God’s love and mercy rule. Another image is from the book of Revelation, where mourning and crying and pain will be no more,” he says.
Reign of Christ Sunday also calls to his mind the mission statement of FaithWorks, taken from Matthew 25: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. “It’s not only the vision for FaithWorks; it’s also an instruction of how we are to be part of the Kingdom of God, how we enter the Kingdom of God both here and now as well as in eternity,” says Mr. Mentis.
While FaithWorks is a year-round priority for many parishes, he says there’s real value in setting a particular day to recognize its importance. “We celebrate the presence of the living Christ in our midst every day, yet we still set aside certain days like Christmas, Easter and Sundays to be reminded of that presence,” he says. “FaithWorks Sunday is exactly the same; it’s the moment to focus. Because the work of FaithWorks goes on every day. The needs that FaithWorks addresses go on every day.”
The timing is also convenient because many people leave their charitable donations until the end of the calendar year, making December a critical month for the annual FaithWorks campaign. “We really won’t know until the end of the year how things have gone. Things seem to be on track, but that’s why now through the fall is the time to draw attention to FaithWorks as a reminder as people are wrapping up the year,” says Mr. Mentis.
The invitation to celebrate FaithWorks Sunday on Nov. 20 is by no means mandatory, as the FaithWorks team knows that some parishes choose to focus on FaithWorks at different times of the year. “Whether it’s the diocesan date or another day, it’s a good thing to bring particular focus to that aspect of our Christian life, both our calling and our abilities to reach out and help,” he says. “It’s a good reminder for those parishes that may not have a specific date that this is the opportunity to create something.” He says FaithWorks Sunday can also give parishes a chance to invite support from new members who may not yet be aware of FaithWorks and its ministries.
While FaithWorks has fared well during the pandemic, with individuals and parishes maintaining and even increasing their gifts over the past two years, lingering uncertainty continues to affect the outlook for 2023. “This is a difficult year to tell exactly what’s happening. In the past we were able to tell where we’re at based on last year and compare. But we can’t compare,” he says. “Given the uncertainties of the world, whether it’s economics or war or the environment, it really is difficult to predict where things will be at next year.”
Still, Mr. Mentis has been able to visit more ministry partners and parishes to see first-hand the efforts being made across the diocese to support the most vulnerable members of society. “It has been quite inspiring to see the innovative work being done across the board by our ministry partners, and parishes that are stepping up to bat and trying new things,” he says.
Preparation of materials for the 2023 campaign is well underway, and he hopes they’ll be ready to send out before Christmas. He says he’s grateful that despite facing their own difficulties in some cases, parishes are continuing to support FaithWorks.
“The needs are still there. That hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s gotten more intense. And our calling to manifest God’s love has not gone away,” he says. “I’m hoping that in the year to continue to inspire individuals, parishes, businesses and foundations that support us to be able to do so in the future.”