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Joy through Generosity

By Bishop Ronald A. Hicks is the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Joliet

Joy through Generosity

There are so many benefits to being generous. I want to focus on one, perhaps counterintuitive, reason to practice generosity. It is, “Joy!” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Joy is a sign of generosity. When you are full of joy, you move faster, and you want to go about doing good to everyone.”

I, too am convinced that when we are aware and grateful for the generosity shown to us by God and others, it motivates us to be more generous and is the source of our joy.

From 2005 to 2010, the late Cardinal Francis George, from the Archdiocese of Chicago, generously granted me a special permission to live and work in El Salvador at a home that cares for orphaned and abandoned children called, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH.) I promised him that, after my five years there, I would return to Chicago and accept any assignment he had for me.

During my first year at NPH in El Salvador, there were more than 500 children in our home. We had some dormitories and a school, plus a refectory and small office building. However, there was no chapel. I wanted a dedicated space to praise and worship the Lord that was simple, yet beautiful. After deciding on a design, I invited my family and friends to help in bringing my dream to reality.

During that campaign, a group of 40 friends traveled to El Salvador to see me and learn about NPH. Since there was no space for 500 children and my visitors to gather indoors, I offered Mass for them outdoors. After communion and before the final blessing, I quickly invited my visitors to be generous with their donations to help build the chapel so that the next time they visited they would be able to have Mass inside a chapel instead of under the Salvadoran sun.

After Mass, we all lingered and shared in conversation and fellowship. During that time, seven-year-old David ran up to me with a glowing smile. He said to me, “Padre, one of your visitors gave me a dollar! Do you have any coins to make change?” I checked my pockets and said, “Yes, sure.” As I was counting the change for him, he curiously added, “Padre, I will give you the dollar, but I want you to give me only seventy-five cents in return.”

He had my attention. “Why is that, David?”

In a serious and almost commanding tone, he replied, “I believe you asked your visitors for money to help build our chapel. I am excited about having a chapel here. I want to donate also. So, give me seventy-five cents and then you keep twenty-five cents as my contribution to the chapel.”

I contemplated declining his offering as I thought that twenty-five cents would not make a substantial difference to our fundraising efforts, and that he would enjoy the extra twenty-five cents more. However, I promptly changed my mind and thought to myself, “This is an opportunity for to me to instill in him this spirit of generosity. So said to him, “David, thank you for being so generous. I accept your donation, and when our chapel is built, you, for the rest of your life, will know that you contributed to its completion.”

He walked away with his seventy-five cents and his smile beamed even brighter than before. Again, joy is a sign of generosity!

Much of this edition of Christ is our Hope focuses on stewardship and generosity as we approach our Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal (CMAA). We all want our Church to be vibrant and serve the mission of Christ. Your donations directly support some of the essentials ministries of our diocese including Catholic Charities, the Catholic Schools Office, seminarian education, the Office of Family Ministry, the Office of Hispanic and Ethnic Ministries, and the Office of Youth Ministry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the diocese and our people. Since March 2019, donations to our parishes, to our ministries and to our diocese have decreased, while the needs have continued to increase. Even as donations at Mass dropped off sharply, many parishes have expanded their outreach to the poor and schools have extended tuition help to families in economic distress.

I hope many of you are able to donate generously and perhaps even increase your annual gifts or pledges. If you are not able to increase your donation or contribute financially to the annual appeal this year, I ask for your support through the generosity of your prayers.  I am also praying for you and your intentions.

In whatever way you express your generosity in support of not only the CMAA. but also your parish and so many other ministries and organizations that bring Christ’s light to the world, please know that I am truly grateful. Thank you!

Let me conclude by echoing Jesus’ words in found in John 15:11, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

Paz y bien,

Bishop Ron Hicks

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,

Teach me true generosity.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve.

To give without counting the cost,

To fight heedless of wounds,

To labor without seeking rest,

To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward

Save the knowledge that I have done your will.


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