By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“Together you touch the Diocese in ways to further the mission of Christ,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, who hosted the Annual Advent Brunch to thank local leaders and donors who support the ministries of the Diocese.
The Advent Brunch, held Dec. 9 at Lehigh Country Club, Allentown, included major donors who support the Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA); Endowment for the Care of Retired Priests; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown; the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholarship Foundation (EPSF); and schools, parishes and other ministries.
Paul Acampora, secretary of the diocesan Secretariat for Stewardship and Development, welcomed and thanked guests who joined the event in the midst of the season’s first notable snowfall.
“Thank you for joining us in a snow globe today,” said Acampora, as snow drifted across the landscape outside the dining room.
Acampora also thanked Bishop Schlert for hosting the event, and led a round of applause to wish the prelate a Merry Christmas.
Msgr. David James, Diocesan vicar general, said grace and led applause for the five diocesan seminarians in attendance, including Giuseppe Esposito, Matthew Kuna, Philip Maas, John Maria and Zachary Wehr.
“I’m very grateful for our seminarians,” said Bishop Schlert, who has made vocations a priority for the Diocese.
“We need priests to serve in our parishes. We need religious and deacons, too. “As it says in the Gospel, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few’; so we must ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Bishop Schlert also described the “Home for Christmas” effort recently launched by the Diocese. Through print ads, radio spots and direct mail, Bishop Schlert has invited all Catholics to come back to church, knowing they will be welcome. He also encourages all parishioners to invite inactive Catholics to come back to church.
“Jesus tells us to ‘Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,’ What better thing can we do as a Church but go after the lost?”
In addition to vocations, the Diocese of Allentown remains committed to charitable works and evangelization. “This is all the work of the Church and the Gospel,” Bishop Schlert told the guests. “You participate in a unique way by your generosity to the Diocese.”
Each guest received a copy of “Lord God Holy Spirit, Sanctifier: A Reflection on the Holy Spirit Alive Within Us,” the new book recently published by Bishop Emeritus Edward Cullen.
“I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas,” Bishop Schlert said. “I’m grateful for you as a priest for 30 years and even more as your Bishop.”
Table chairpersons were: Bishop Schlert; Acampora; John Bakey, chancellor of the Secretariat for Catholic Education; Diane Bullard, secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic Human Services; Ginny Downey, major and planned gifts officer in the Secretariat for Stewardship and Development; Dr. Philip Fromuth, secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic Education; and Msgr. Gerald Gobitas, diocesan chancellor and secretary of the Secretariat for Clergy.
lso, Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization; Sister of Mercy Janice Marie Johnson, major and planned gifts officer; Father Keith Mathur, director of the Office of Divine Worship; Michele Mullikin, director of parish stewardship and annual giving; Stephanie Schweder-Kratzer, director of school development; Mark Smith, secretary of the Secretariat for Temporal Affairs and CFO; and Judith Stewart, assistant to Acampora and special events coordinator.