Pictured above: A screen shot of some of the people who joined the 2020 virtual Bishop’s Ambassador gathering on October 8, 2020.
Like many gatherings in 2020, this year’s Bishop’s Ambassadors event looked a little different. Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to be together in person, but the U.P. Catholic Foundation (UPCF) provided a wonderful program via Zoom.
The Bishop’s Ambassadors is a membership organization led currently by Bishop John Doerfler. The Ambassadors are the backbone of the Legacy of Faith Initiative, and they serve as a motivated group of concerned Catholic leaders that the bishop consults with and speaks to regarding key diocesan issues and concerns. For more information on how to join the Bishop’s Ambassadors, see the UPCF website by clicking here.
This year the Bishop’s Ambassadors event celebrated 20 years of grant making from the Legacy of Faith Endowment Fund. And because this was a Zoom call event, we were able to have all three bishops that have led the Legacy of Faith Initiative join us to share their thoughts and memories. Who says there aren’t blessings amid the pandemic?
The evening started with a slide show, prepared by the Stewardship & Development staff, of past Bishop’s Ambassador events. Everyone enjoyed seeing faces both old and new. Deacon Art Stancher, chair of the Legacy of Faith advisory board, then offered an opening prayer for the formation of spirit-filled evangelizers.
After the prayer, Bishop John Doerfler welcomed all and introduced this year’s Legacy of Faith Catholic Service Award recipient, David Guenther, of St. Paul’s parish in Negaunee. To view David’s video and see past recipients of CSA, click here.
Bob Bink, a founding member of Bishop Garland’s vision for the Bishop’s Ambassadors, then shared his moving testimony about giving. Bob described how making a commitment, which at first may be a little scary, can transform into something beautiful and spiritually rewarding. He quoted this verse from the Bible:
And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time…and in the world to come.
Mark 10 29-30
“I truly do believe,” said Bob, “that Jesus Christ said ‘Thanks, Bob!’” for his gifts to the diocese. Bob ended his testimony with, “Don’t be afraid to donate to the diocesan foundation.”
Next we heard from Totus Tuus missionary, Olivia Theut. Totus Tuus is a program that reaches children in our diocese through the dynamic interaction with young adults. Totus Tuus is a wonderful example of the ripple effect of good works. Olivia was called to be a missionary for Totus Tuus. By sharing God’s Word with others, she grew in her own faith and relationship with Christ. By continuing to answer His call throughout her life, Olivia still impacts the lives of children in our community as a social worker for foster care and adoptive children.
The program then turned to the three bishops that have led the Legacy of Faith Initiative.
Highlights under Bishop James Garland include:
- Established the Bishop’s Ambassador organization to initially fund LOF
- Established Legacy of Faith Endowment in 2001
- First grants awarded in 2002
- Favorite Grant: Annual grants to Catholic Social Services, which helps so many people in need with counseling services to strengthen marriages, cope with loss, depression and anxiety, and recover from addictions. They also provide adoption, foster care and other social services.
Bishop James Garland is astounded by the fruits that have been generated by the Legacy of Faith Initiative to date. He concluded his remarks about giving saying this, “I cannot make any guarantees, but I can assure you, the Lord is not outdone in generosity.”
Highlights under Archbishop Alexander K Sample include:
- Led LOF for 7 years from 2006-2013
- Grants supported a growing youth ministry across the diocese, including start-up of regional and diocese-wide youth rallies
- 2006 LOF funded new textbooks that enabled all parishes to begin teaching the newly revised curriculum immediately
- Favorite Grant: Making the pilgrimage with young people from the U.P. to Madrid in 2011 for World Youth Day was certainly memorable!
Those who were able to attend the Zoom call were blessed to hear from Archbishop Sample from the Diocese of Portland, Oregon. He shared memories of his priestly formation in our diocese and also how he has settled into his new home in the Pacific Northwest. About Legacy of Faith, he said, “For me, the memories of Legacy of Faith are all about the people whose lives have been touched so deeply by the generosity of those who have contributed to the Legacy of Faith. Both those who have contributed as well as those who have been recipients.”
Highlights under Bishop John F Doerfler include:
- Evangelization focus on grants
- Created U.P. Catholic Foundation to make it easier for parishes and schools to establish endowments and boost capacity for growth
- Integrated LOF into the new Foundation, which today holds 29 separate funds
- Expanded Bishop’s Ambassador organization to include those making significant gift commitments to any endowed fund of the diocese
Bishop John Doerfler expressed his thanks for Legacy of Faith in this way, “When I arrived and learned of the good work that had been done by the bishops and the many generous donors to these funds, it really opened my heart in gratitude for the wisdom, the foresight, to engage people in a very meaningful way of participating in the missions of Church through the gift of generosity.” Bishop John has built on and expanded the foundation that has been laid in his support of the creation of the U.P. Catholic Foundation.
The program moved to a Q&A session with Bishop John and an update of current ministries of the diocese. Closing comments for the evening were made by Laurie Stupak, current president of the U.P. Catholic Foundation. Laurie noted, “By trusting in God we can grow in our faith in different ways that we never would have anticipated.”
Father Al Mott led the group in prayer to close a wonderful evening.