As February draws closer to the beginning of Lent, Catholics in our diocese will once again come together in solidarity with neighbors in need through financial gifts to the Annual Catholic Appeal. The life-changing work of 18 Northern California charities is supported, including those that help others find wholeness and a haven of mercy from which to move forward in life.
Out of prison and accompanied by a gifted mentor, Osvaldo is finding his path to wholeness in society. Exodus Project, a program of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, brought the two together, each with his own experience with incarceration and the painful, vulnerable process of re-entering society. Today, Osvaldo enjoys the responsibility of a full-time job. He’s grateful to Troy, his mentor, for guidance and encouragement to move forward in life. “From the moment the gate to freedom is opened, we are fully behind individuals coming out of incarceration. We’re also there for the community,” says Rabbi Seth Castleman, director of Exodus Project. “When someone is employed and housed and sober, they’re much more likely to be productive, healthy, safe members of society.
”Case workers at Northern Valley Catholic Social Service are grateful to be able to support people who are on the brink of homelessness and struggling with mental illness. After qualifying for an interview, and with encouragement from her case manager, Donna was welcomed into low-income housing with open arms. She can now focus on coping with her physical and mental health issues within the stability of sustainable, independent living: a precious alternative to the life she faced as yet another human being experiencing homelessness and declining chronic illness.
In this year’s video, Bishop Jaime Soto reminds us that the charity of Jesus is fundamental to who we are as Catholics.
“Through the Annual Catholic Appeal, we come together in the charity of Christ to restore dignity and hope to those who suffer emotional, physical and spiritual poverty. We bring them to a haven of mercy from which to journey forward with hope.” The video also reinforces that we all have a fundamental need to share the heart of God with others, so that they can go forward and share the heart of God in their own lives. Giving financial support to the Appeal is one way we can contribute to this important work.
In addition to providing much-needed rental assistance in economically challenged communities, Catholic Charities of Yolo-Solano has been a vital link to food security for individuals and families. So much so that nutrition classes are offered to people of all ages, including seniors in low-income housing. Instructors are passionate about their work, knowing that nourishing food experiences really do provide others with a foundation to improve their physical and emotional lives.
Last year, generous parishioners provided more than $4.2 million to the Appeal. Fifty percent of proceeds go to 18 Catholic charities in our 20-country diocese. Twenty-five percent goes back to your parish for its own ministry to those in the local community. Twenty-five percent also supports students in economically challenged neighborhoods and helps ensure a supportive community for seminarians in formation for priesthood in our parishes.
Miriam Sammartino, director of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns for the Diocese of Sacramento, is also immensely grateful for Appeal funds. “As Catholics we respond to the cry of those who are suffering in dire circumstances. And because the Appeal allows charities to instantly pivot to the greatest need, we’re transforming lives at the moment they are the most vulnerable. Not every funding source allows such rapid and meaningful response.”