Abuse. Cover up. Scandal. These and many more words have been staples when speaking about the Catholic Church for the past several months. But there is good news and good work the Church and the Diocese of Harrisburg continue to accomplish.
In the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Father David Danneker, Vicar General for the Diocese, presented detailed information on the Church and the Diocese of today.
“When we focus on the negative and tend to notice all that is going wrong in our world, we miss God’s grace and presence before us,” Father Danneker said. “What we focus on is what we give power to. In focusing on the negative, we miss God’s grace. Our own vision can be so attuned to one color. It might be the color of clergy sexual abuse; it might be the color of declining Mass attendance; it might be the color of cynicism. It makes us blind to the colors of God. Colors of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace and love.”
He continued that the whole Church has a responsibility to offer decisive leadership in the area of sexual misconduct, adding that “crisis” in Chinese is one word but has two meanings, one of which is “great opportunity.”
“We have a great opportunity facing us,” Father Danneker said. “Crisis is often accompanied by an opportunity for extraordinary growth and leadership. So let me share with you the “good” that is going on in our Church and our Diocese.”
Throughout the United States, the Catholic Church annually provides:
- Education for 2.6 million students every day, at a cost of $10 billion per year. Because these students are in Catholic schools, American taxpayers are seeing a savings of $18 billion.
- More than 230 Catholic colleges and universities, providing higher education to more than 700,000 students
- Medical care for 1 in every 5 people
- Clothing, food and shelter for 1 of every 5 indigents
- More than $10 billion to support various social agencies
The Diocese of Harrisburg has just as impressive details on its work throughout its 15 county region. Father Danneker shared that the Diocese is:
- Providing a Catholic education and instruction to more than 22,200 students through its schools and religious education programs
- Supporting 26 dedicated seminarians studying for the priesthood
- Assisting countless individuals in finding hope and healing through the many addiction resources centers supported by the Diocese
- Providing faith-filled education and inspiration to its members through various conferences. This year’s Women’s Conference brought together more than 750 women from the Diocese, with the Men’s Conference bringing in more than 1,000.
- Expanding and seeing growth through multicultural ministries, including the Black, Hispanic, Korean, Vietnamese and Italian Apostolates, as well as the Ancient Order of Hibernians (Irish Catholic fraternal organization) and the Kolo “Marian” Club (Croatian folklore ensemble).
- Providing ministry to college students through 12 college campus ministries
- Providing chaplains to bring comfort and compassion to those in 14 hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities
- Bringing spiritual guidance to our incarcerated brothers and sisters in two state penitentiaries and 14 county prisons
- Providing pre- and post-marriage support and education for more than 370 couples
- Supporting the efforts and studies of 40 men in the Permanent Diaconate program
“The Catholic Church helps millions of people every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year,” Father Danneker said. “What is essential, is that each of us steps forward in Christ’s name to hold out our hand to someone. There is no other way than to walk with God. I cannot fail but mention how strong Bishop Gainer has been for all of us during this time. So be a proud member of the Church. Speak up for your faith with honor and reverence. Continue to learn what our Church does, not just for our fellow Catholics, but for every religion, every citizen. Never, ever, ever be ashamed to be a Catholic.”
By Rachel Bryson, M.S., The Catholic Witness