DSF 2016: ‘His Mercy Endures Forever’ for more than 50 years

February 7, 2016

HOUSTON — As the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) reaches its 50th anniversary this year, the continued commitment to stewardship by the faithful of the Archdiocese demonstrates that God’s mercy endures forever.

In a video address that will be shown to parishes within the Archdiocese the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, said that 50 years ago, when the DSF was established under the leadership of then Bishop John L. Morkovsky, this program was prophetic of the expansive growth that the Archdiocese would experience over the next five decades. The fund was established so the Archdiocese could continue to sustain itself financially in the future. 

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has chosen “His Mercy Endures Forever,” for the DSF 2016 theme, which represents what the 60 programs in the DSF do for the Church and all those who take part in the ministries. Cardinal DiNardo hopes to raise more than $13 million dollars for these ministries. 
In the DSF video and the brochure for this year’s DSF appeal, Cardinal DiNardo spoke about several DSF-funded ministries and the people who serve and are served.

“God’s mercy cannot be chained,” said Cardinal DiNardo in reference to the priests and permanent deacons assigned to ministering to incarcerated youth and adults. He thanked them for demonstrating that God is merciful even to those who are isolated in prison. “They help the prisoners realize that God is merciful even during incarceration,” he said.

Some of the 20,000 of those incarcerated in our Archdiocese profess to be Catholic. Annually the Correctional Ministries provides more than 3,500 religious services at 26 area criminal justice prison units including Mass, Communion services, Bible studies, RCIA, Confirmations, devotions and prayers. 

Cardinal DiNardo also recognized that while the Archdiocese is a young Church, offering many programs for children, teens and young adults, the elderly population in the city of Houston has continued to increase in size and in need. One of the featured DSF ministries was St. Dominic Village, which has served the Archdiocese for more than 40 years. 

“Living here at St. Dominic is the best thing that ever happened to me or any other Catholic who likes to go to daily Mass, because you just can’t do that anywhere else,” said Theresa Matranga Sagan, St. Dominic Village resident. “We welcome everybody, even if you are not Catholic. We are taught that way; love your neighbor as yourself.”

Another DSF supported ministry featured was the Catholic Chaplain Corps, which provides sacramental and pastoral care to patients, families and staff of health care institutions in the Texas Medical Center and health care institutions within the Archdiocese.

Father Michael Barrosa, chaplain at M.D. Anderson, said in the video that one of the responsibilities of the hospital chaplains is to celebrate Mass at the hospital, which is broadcast to those who cannot leave their rooms and attend physically.

“Even in their rooms we assure them that they are united with us in our prayers,” said Father Barrosa. “The presence of a priest is very important because they feel that Christ is so close to them in their time of great need. That the Sacrament of Christ’s love, even in their last moment, is so important and they feel they were never abandoned.”

Cardinal DiNardo also referenced DSF programs that help specify God’s mercy in action through his flock.

“We have almost 50 seminarians this year, and the DSF program helps supply the funds so our seminarians will grow in grace and in steady stewardship of being shepherds, so they one day can be ordained,” he said.

Father T.J. Dolce, director of Vocations, said his ministry strives to identify young men that can be instruments and vessels of God’s mercy and love through celebrating the Sacraments, such as the Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation.

“The Office of Vocations is extremely grateful to the people of God across the Archdiocese and various parishes that give to the DSF, so we can fund all the activities and education of the seminarians and people who are discerning their call to serve God as priests, brothers, sisters and nuns,” he said.

Words spoken by Bishop Morkovsky in historic footage encapsulates what the DSF theme is all about 50 years later: “DSF is really a work of mercy, appealing to people to sponsor financially these wonderful varied works which one way or another demonstrates God’s unending love for us. Freely we have received from him, freely we should share with others. Don’t pass your needy neighbor by. Be like the samaritan in the Lord’s parable; be personally involved. Like Jesus, we are sent to help others to have life and to have it more abundantly.”

Cardinal DiNardo reminds us, the faithful, what it means to be merciful stewards by supporting the DSF.

“Whether our gifts can be large or small, that’s less important than the fact that we recognize God’s eternal love is directed at us,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Thank you for responding to the gift God has given you. We respond together as a local Church, and through that we realize his mercy endures forever.”