DSF 2021: Called to walk in the light of Christ

January 26, 2021

HOUSTON — By supporting the 2021 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) annual campaign, “Walk in the Light of Christ,” the faithful of the Archdiocese have an opportunity to unite together and support the local Church.

The 55th annual DSF campaign begins Feb. 6 to 7 in 154 Catholic parishes and missions across 10 counties in the Archdiocese.

The DSF directly supports more than 60 important ministries that provide for the needs of thousands in local parishes and communities. The list includes lifelong faith formation for children to adults, Sacramental preparation programs and support for liturgical ministry, the formation and training of priests and deacons, and aid to poorer parishes.

“The gifts of the faithful to the DSF allow us to work together in carrying out the mission of the Church,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. “No single parish can do this alone. Through our combined efforts to support these essential ministries assisted by the DSF, we can reflect the light of Christ into the world around us. Due to the prolonged effects of the coronavirus pandemic, this is especially important in 2021.”

Lifelong disciples

One of the 60 ministries supported by the DSF that focuses on forming Catholic adolescents into faithful followers of Jesus Christ is the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE). OACE’s mission is to provide leadership, formation and resources in comprehensive youth ministry for parishes to effectively form adolescents into lifelong disciples in the Catholic tradition.

According to the director of OACE, Timothy Colbert, support of the DSF ensures that parishes receive the assistance they need to effectively proclaim God’s word and grow at all levels of the Archdiocese.

“Supporting the DSF is an acknowledgment that we are united as a diocesan Church,” said Colbert. “We are a community of communities ready, willing and able to reach beyond our own parish boundaries to ensure the needs of our sisters and brothers in Christ are met. Although the focus of ministry to the people of God is in the parishes, parishes rely on the diocesan offices and ministries to support their work.”

Colbert said the DSF helps fund resources to support OACE’s Archdiocesan Youth Council and the development of life-changing moments of evangelization for younger and older adolescents through large programming efforts.

He said gifts to DSF enable the office to develop and implement training and formation programs for youth ministry leaders and volunteers in parishes to ensure that the youth of the Archdiocese are receiving safe, healthy, developmentally appropriate, culturally appropriate and Christ-centered formation.

Catholic academics

Another ministry that receives DSF support is the Catholic Schools Office (CSO), which ensures academic excellence, affordability and accessibility are available to anyone in the Archdiocese that desires a Catholic education. CSO currently serves 45 elementary schools and 11 high schools with approximately 2,200 employees and 18,500 students in the elementary and high schools. CSO also works with other Archdiocesan offices, Catholic Charities, the CHRISTUS Foundation, San José Clinics and University of St. Thomas, among other entities to bring forth its mission.

Debra Haney, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said through support of the DSF, the faithful in the Archdiocese are aiding in the collaborative efforts the CSO puts forth to continually improve, not only itself, but every Catholic School within the Archdiocese.

Haney said for the Catholic Church to accomplish its evangelization and social justice work in its schools in current times, CSO becomes more dependent on lay ministers that need to be trained and supported. This training also is supported through the DSF, which means the CSO is completely dependent on the annual fund to accomplish its mission.

Vocations in formation

Another ministry directly supported by the DSF is the Office of Vocations, which is responsible for encouraging, fostering and walking with young people in the Archdiocese that are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.

Director of Vocations, Father Richard McNeillie, said the Office of Vocations works with St. Mary’s Seminary to care for each seminarian while in formation, including personal, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation of these men in discernment so they may become effective pastoral leaders who desire to serve the Church.

Father McNeillie said he is grateful for supporters that contribute to the DSF, which he feels is the lifeline of the ministry’s operations and allows vocations to be fostered in the Archdiocese.

“The Office of Vocations literally would not be able to pay for the seminarian’s education and formation without the DSF,” said Father McNeillie.

“That’s the biggest item in our budget, and we need it for the future of priests in this local Archdiocese.”

Through the DSF, the faithful in the Archdiocese also support financially challenged parishes and schools that need assistance funding major building and property repair.

Supporting parishes in need

This financial assistance is provided through the Aid to Poor Parishes Fund, which was founded in 1968 by Bishop John L. Morkovsky. Currently, parishes that exceed their DSF goal receive half the surpassed amount, and the other half goes to the Aid to Poor Parishes Fund to assist parishes and their schools in need.

Father Kingsley Ogbuji at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Houston said the DSF and Aid to Poor Parishes Fund allowed his parish to fix major damage caused by a leaking pipe in one of the parish hall classrooms. He said while it may be a mere collection for some, it would have been impossible for his parish to fix the extensive damage to the parish hall and future repairs that also are needed.

“It is an act of charity when we help the least of God’s children, and in this case, poorer parishes,” said Father Ogbuji. “It helps our parishioners feel that people care about them in their financial struggles. It really gives them hope, strengthens their faith and challenges them to show kindness and love to others.”

Cardinal DiNardo said he is grateful to the faithful in the Archdiocese who are always generous to DSF, and he encourages continued support of the DSF this year.

“I thank the people of this local Church for extending our Savior’s love to those around them, and I encourage everyone to bring the light of Christ to others through their participation in the DSF,” said Cardinal DiNardo.

More than 60 ministries are supported by the 2021 DSF annual campaign, whether direct service or education, require DSF funding to remain in operation. No funds are given to the Chancery.

For more information about the fund and how to contribute, go to www.archgh.org/dsf. †