By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Training seminarians and helping young men and women discern a call to priesthood or religious life are two areas that benefit from the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA).
The ADA campaign kicks off this weekend in all parishes in the Diocese of Davenport. The goal has been set at $3,194,852, which would cover about 73 percent of the annual diocesan budget, said diocesan Development Director Michael Hoffman.
The work of the diocese can be accomplished with the help of each person or parishioner who contributes even a few dollars to the campaign, Hoffman said. That work includes supporting and promoting vocations, deacon formation, supporting priests, evangelization, faith formation, and providing information technology and accounting advice for parishes, among other services.
“Monies collected benefit the many worthwhile services the diocese has identified. Your contribution is deeply appreciated,” Hoffman said. He quoted St. Teresa of Kolkata: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Diocesan Vocation Director Father Joseph Sia talked about how ADA supports the 13 men now studying for the priesthood — from the college level to major seminary. ADA funds help pay for tuition, room and board, books and some fees. Health and dental insurance also are offered to seminarians who are not on a parent’s plan or independently covered.
Money that comes into Fr. Sia’s department also helps with vocation promotion. The Project Andrew dinner provides an opportunity for young and older men to enjoy a meal with priests to talk about the discernment process. Vocation posters, brochures and prayer cards are also funded through the ADA
A Thinking of the Priesthood Day, an annual collaborative effort with the other three Iowa dioceses, offers a day of prayer, talks and Q&A panels for men wanting to take a more serious look at the priesthood.
A workshop is also held each year for the first five years after a priest is ordained to provide information about best practices and discussions. “We have mentors too,” Fr. Sia said. “Our human institution as a church is not perfect, but our love of God will compel us to support the Annual Diocesan Appeal.”
Fr. Sia previously served in parish ministry before becoming vocation director July 1. He noted that parishioners can pay their ADA pledges on a payment schedule that works for them. Every dollar contributed is “a generous effort to support all of the diocese’s efforts.”
James Flattery, a third-year major seminarian at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., said of ADA funds, “With (the) prayers and financial support, I have been blessed with the opportunity to go to Mundelein Seminary. While at Mundelein I have been able to grow in my knowledge of the faith along with my relationship with God.”
As a child, he often played at Mass at home. “When I was in middle school I attended a Project Andrew Dinner where I decided that God wasn’t calling me to the priesthood because the priests and bishop were too holy for me. It was after college that I got involved with the Knights of Columbus and became more involved in my home parish (Immaculate Conception in Colfax).
While attending eucharistic adoration with one of the Knights, “the idea of priesthood kept coming into my mind and heart. I remember struggling with the call for a year or two as I questioned whether God was really calling me,” Flattery said. Since entering the seminary, “I have felt a sense of relief and joy and I am excited that, God willing, I will be ordained a deacon this coming summer for the diocese.”
He encouraged people in the diocese to “prayerfully consider what you are able to give so that my brother seminarians and I are able to attend seminary so that, God willing, we may be your parish priest. God has called each one of us to a vocation. Be not afraid and follow God wherever he leads you.”
Second-year pre-theology seminarian Isaac Doucette is also studying at Mundelein Seminary. He said the ADA allows him and the other seminarians “to pursue our vocation fully, grow in our love of Jesus, and grow in love of our neighbor. It allows the seminarians and the diocese to mutually discern and do God’s will for the service and shepherding of souls in the Diocese of Davenport.”
He was already employed when “I felt God was calling me to something more. I said a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. On the ninth day I heard an inaudible voice say, ‘go be a priest.’ I pursued it and am now in pre-theology two at Mundelein.”
Doucette said financial support is necessary, but prayers have a big impact on vocations. He asked for prayers for an increase of responses to the priestly vocation, for seminarians, priests, Bishop (Thomas) Zinkula, and the universal church.