Faithful called to bring greatest gifts to the Lord through 2020 DSF

January 27, 2020

The Office of Vocations, which is responsible for the care and formation of the 62 seminarians at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, saw seven men ordained to the priesthood in June 2019. The Office of Vocations is just one of the 60 ministries that benefits from the Diocesan Services Fund. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald).

HOUSTON — The faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are encouraged to bring their greatest gifts to the Lord and foster good in the local Church by contributing to 60 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) programs.

The 2020 DSF annual campaign, “Bring Your Greatest Gifts to the Lord,” begins Feb. 1 to 2 on Commitment Weekend held in 153 parishes across 10 counties in the Archdiocese. 

“We cannot say that what we have is our own, but instead, a gift from the Lord that is meant to be shared,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said the. “DSF continues to be the largest service umbrella within the Archdiocese that binds us together in serving others and sharing our greatest gifts to bring greater common good.” 

The 60 ministries supported annually by the DSF, which are listed below, assist thousands living in the Archdiocese, many of whom are poor, sick, imprisoned, elderly or people currently facing a crisis. DSF also supports programs and services that foster teaching, evangelization and worship. No funds are spent on the administration of the Chancery.

Three ministries that benefit from the gifts provided by the faithful through the DSF are highlighted in the 2020 campaign: the Office of Vocations, Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, and Office of Hispanic Ministry. 

With seven men ordained last year in June and 62 seminarians (including 17 Archdiocesan seminarians) currently enrolled in St. Mary’s Seminary, the Office of Vocations is responsible for the care and formation of each seminarian. The office provides personal, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation of these men in discernment so they may become effective pastoral leaders who desire to serve the Church. 

“The Vocations office allows a young man to discern whether he is being called by God to share his gifts through the priesthood,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “Discernment includes a series of inquiries, including background checks, psychological tests and a review by a committee of both priests and laypeople to help me decide who enters the seminary. Please keep praying and supporting this ministry so that we have the best vocations program possible.”

Father Richard McNeillie, director of the Office of Vocations, said he is grateful for the supporters of the DSF, which he feels is the lifeline of the ministry’s operations.

“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.”

The DSF also supports religious education programs offered by the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, which foster each person’s faith to become living, conscious and active through a lens of lifelong faith formation. 

According to Julie Blevins, director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (OEC), programs are designed to assist pastors and catechetical leaders in parishes and schools in furthering the catechetical-evangelical mission of a family-oriented, multi-ethnic Church of adults, youth and children. 

Blevins said that over the past three years, the OEC’s mission has focused on providing ways to draw people into deeper communion and intimacy with each other and Jesus. This includes a new, more uniform program that provides adults with an opportunity to develop the spiritual growth needed to be formed through the Sacrament of Confirmation. 

“Once someone has an encounter with Christ, they want to know more, and Catechesis is there to support that quest,” said Blevins. “If we know Jesus more, then we grow to love Him and desire to serve Him. OEC’s new program and those that have been revised over these past three years have integrated this principle of encounter before catechesis, which leads into deeper encounters and deeper catechesis, which is a lifelong experience.” 

Blevins said the DSF supports the development of the curriculum, all revisions to leadership formation programs, revisions to catechist formation programs, textbook aid to poor parishes, and scholarships for leaders to pursue advanced formation or degrees in theologies.

“Each of these programs return the investment parishes make in their donation to DSF by giving back qualified leaders and catechists that can effectively and authentically transmit the faith to its members,” Blevins said.

Another area the gifts provided by the DSF support is the Office of Hispanic Ministry. With approximately 2.4 million Hispanic and Latinos currently living in the Houston area, which continues to grow in large numbers each year, the DSF is critical in providing support for the inclusion of Hispanic Catholics. 

According to Lázaro Contreras, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, the ministry’s vision has been the same for the past four decades: To be an agent of transformation for the Hispanic and Latino community promoting its fullest inclusion and participation in the Church and society. 

Contreras said as a pastoral office, ministry staff and volunteers observe, listen and discern their needs and respond in collaboration with the different Archdiocesan offices and parishes, as well as with other Catholic and secular organizations.

“One of the things that I love about this Archdiocese is the great diversity that we have in languages and cultures, and the many ways we express our Catholic faith,” said Contreras. “Even as Hispanics and Latinos, we come from a lot of different countries and regions. What unites us all, including our non-Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters, is sharing the gift of our Catholic faith and love for Christ and His Church.”

Contreras said it is through the generosity of the faithful in the Archdiocese that supports the DSF that enables the ministry to support Hispanic and Latino Catholics on their spiritual journeys.

“Through the DSF, we can continue our work in collaboration with diocesan offices and other organizations to provide leadership formation programs, which allows this community to respond to the call of the new evangelization,” Contreras said. “We are able to help them become witnesses of God’s love and bring their God-given gifts to the Lord to serve the entire Church and build the Kingdom of God in our midst.”

Cardinal DiNardo said he is deeply grateful to the faithful in the Archdiocese for their excellent work in parishes that brings their gifts to the Lord and treasury to help the common good of the local Church.

“The faithful’s support of the DSF allows the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to be sustained, grow and enhanced in the expression of our faith,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “All those who benefit truly appreciate gifts to the DSF. I ask them today to share their greatest gifts with others by participating in the 2020 DSF.”

For more information about the Diocesan Services Fund and how to contribute, visit †