By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Catholic school education gave two St. Ambrose University students a strong foundation and sense of community in their faith.
Part of the Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA) funds collected for the Diocese of Davenport goes toward supporting faith formation in Catholic schools, religious education and youth ministry programs as well. The ADA kicked off in the diocese’s parishes Sept. 21-22.
“The future of the church is the young people and children. Providing them with a foundation in education, whether in Catholic schools or in religious education, ensures a bright future, another service provided by contributions to the ADA,” said Michael Hoffman, director of development for the Diocese of Davenport.
Sarah Adams, a senior theology and marketing major at St. Ambrose, graduated from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School and Assumption High School, both in Davenport. “Catholic school gave me a strong foundation of faith, and my parents were a huge part as well. This is why I believe so strongly that we should invest in the domestic church!”
She said her participation in the National Catholic Youth Conference in 2013 and 2015, coordinated through the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, and in parish youth groups, were incredible experiences. “My NCYC experiences were huge steps in my faith journey. At NCYC, I had my first profound experience of God’s mercy through confession,” Sarah said. The youth ministry program at St. Paul the Apostle Parish also helped in her faith formation because she was around other young people excited about their faith.
“Luke Ebener (the parish’s youth minister) was fantastic at living out his own faith passionately and made it exciting for the youth of the parish. Youth ministry definitely helped with my faith life, while religious education helped me with my knowledge about the church.”
She remains committed to her Catholic faith “because I could never leave the beauty and love of the true presence in the Eucharist.” At St. Ambrose, Sarah is involved with campus ministry “because my faith is my number one priority and campus ministry holds me accountable to that priority. Also, all of the students and faculty involved in campus ministry inspire me to live out my faith life more perfectly in my everyday life.”
Sarah attends a weekend Mass and the weeknight Mass and participates in other faith opportunities throughout the week. “I believe that the most important thing about evangelization is approaching each evangelization situation with an attitude of love and listening. People who have been hurt by the church — and most people in general — just want to be listened to, and if we genuinely listen and respond with love it will be clear that we are living out our faith. Actions can speak much louder than words in faith. People will see the beauty of the love and mercy of God when we live out our faith with joy and authenticity.”
Andrea Adam, a junior exercise science major, graduated from Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City. She said she took her Catholic school education for granted because “most people around me were Catholic.”
A member of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, she said she “loves the idea that there is always a community surrounding me that has my best intentions in mind and prays for the good of others. It is a very selfless congregation that is truly universal. No matter where you go, there will always be a church nearby.”
Andrea was involved in youth ministry through St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and also attended NCYC her junior year in high school. “I really enjoyed it.” Participating in youth ministry provided a good opportunity to meet people with the same values, she said. At St. Ambrose, Andrea attends Sunday morning Mass on campus and is involved as a peer campus minister who encourages students to get involved in their faith and service opportunities.
The goal for this year’s ADA is $3,189,276. The appeal, with the theme “Supporting the Vision,” covers around 64 percent of the diocesan budget. “We thought it best to keep the evangelism theme that has begun with the Vision 20/20 effort,” Hoffman said. “There are so many more positive things happening in the parishes this past year. We wanted to keep the focus on the Joy of the Gospel and reaching out into the peripheries to minister to those in need or who feel left out or marginalized.”
All monies raised help to provide much-needed programs and services in the diocese, Hoffman said. “For example, we are one of a few dioceses that provide immigration outreach to individuals that need assistance in filing paperwork and other services.”
The ADA also supports retired priests, provides for the education of seminary students and deacon candidates, and faith formation that spans from elementary school through high school and into adulthood. Each program and service creates an awesome result, Hoffman said.
“We can get bogged down in some of the issues that the church is dealing with or decide to take the high road in seeing how God is calling each of us to be disciples of his son, Jesus, and to walk with him.”
Each gift to ADA is appreciated and utilized in a prudent way, Hoffman said. “We do not save monies for a rainy day but utilize every dollar raised in support of the diocese. Together, everyone accomplishes more (TEAM).”
He asks the people of the diocese to prayerfully consider making a pledge to this year’s campaign. “With your assistance, we can continue Supporting the Vision!”