2017 Diocesan Services Fund calls all to “Go Make Disciples”

January 24, 2017

Archdiocesan Director of Vocations Father T.J. Dolce speaks with young men about discernment as part of the Vocations Office efforts. The ministry is just one of more than 60 programs supported by the Diocesan Services Fund. Photo courtesy of the Development Office.

HOUSTON — In the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs his followers to go out and make disciples by preaching the Gospel and spreading the faith to all corners of the earth. Members of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston also are called to, “Go Make Disciples” during the 2017 Diocesan Services Fund annual campaign (DSF), which kicks off in parishes the weekend of Feb. 4 and 5.

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said the DSF is a vital means of responding to Christ’s invitation that provides critical support and sustenance for over 60 programs with long-lasting benefits for many in the local Church. He said these programs demonstrate faith in action as directed by Pope Francis, who stated that evangelization begins with each of us. The Holy Father calls all believers to become a community of missionary disciples, to take that first step to be involved, supportive, and to bear fruit and rejoice from these efforts. (Evangelii Gaudium, Nov. 24, 2013). 

“I want to let you know how important the various activities of DSF are, for us as believers, as disciples, and how important they are in helping to make disciples,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “I have seen the effects that these programs have.”

Each year, a few programs supported by the DSF are featured during the campaign. Chosen this year are Camp Kappe, Special Youth Services (SYS) and the Office of Vocations, which each provide a path for many people in the Archdiocese to continue their growth in faith and discipleship.

Camp Kappe is a retreat center located on a 130-acre tract of heavily wooded rolling land approximately one hour north of Houston in Plantersville. Since 1981, Camp Kappe’s main mission has been to provide, in a Catholic tradition, opportunities for youth in parishes and schools to experience the love of Christ in this unique outdoor setting, and be challenged to grow in body, mind and heart through spiritual and educational programs and retreats. 

Camp Kappe serves the youth in the Archdiocese in a variety of ways, including the S.E.E. (School of Environmental Education) offered to fifth-grade students at Catholic schools in the Archdiocese and four additional dioceses. Camp Kappe is currently the only dedicated youth retreat center for parishes to host their youth retreats for weekend and summer activities.

SYS, also supported by the DSF, ministers to youth between the ages of 10 and 17 that have committed a crime and are placed by the courts to one of 34 juvenile detention centers within the Archdiocese. The ministry’s mission is to model the embrace of Christ through faith sharing, pastoral care and advocacy for these youth, as well as coordination and promotion of restorative services to at-risk youth and their families in six facilities located in Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. 

For youth inside the detention centers, SYS offers weekly Bible studies, individual pastoral counseling, and celebration of communion and reconciliation. The ministry also offers special programs during the Christmas season, which can be a lonely and sad time for the kids that are away from their families. For at-risk youth and families outside the centers, group and parenting programs also are offered.

The ministry responsible for encouraging and fostering young people in the Archdiocese to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life is the Office of Vocations. Main programs include vocational discernment events, such as discernment groups, prayer services, and retreats for young people in the Archdiocese, as well as visits to Catholic schools and parish youth programs to speak about vocations. In addition, the Office of Vocations oversees the Archdiocesan funding, which provides administrative, financial and personal support while the seminarians are in formation.

Cardinal DiNardo said he is very grateful to all the members of this local Church who have always been very generous to DSF.

“If I am asking you in an intense way to be generous this year, it’s because I know it may be more of a challenge,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “I know we can do it; go make disciples!”