A girl leans against a wall on the streets of Manila, Philippines, Jan. 14. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

A sacrificial gift to make a difference

By  Arthur Peters, Catholic Register Special
  • April 30, 2015

Parishioners across the Archdiocese of Toronto have always been generous towards the needs of the greater community. Last fall, I noted that the archdiocese would be undertaking the Family of Faith campaign in parishes, and that it was important to maintain support for ShareLife while we contributed to this effort.

Although there has been significant generosity in both campaigns to date, we are experiencing a shortfall in our 2015 ShareLife parish appeal of just over $1 million, with the greatest shortfalls coming from parishes that have completed their Family of Faith effort.

Entering our third collection weekend (May 2-3,) more than ever we ask all parishioners to make a contribution to the ShareLife campaign, either at the parish, or online at www.sharelife.org.

Why contribute to ShareLife? People have many choices when considering where to allocate charitable dollars. I would like to share the story of Mary, who is being helped by the Society of Sharing, which is supported through our annual appeal.

Mary and her husband were visually impaired, which made some tasks we take for granted difficult to accomplish and led to daily struggles to do things on their own. In 1997, they were referred to the Society of Sharing, and everything changed for them.

A friendly visitor came into their life, and soon they were given assistance to get into the community, go shopping and visit their doctor.

In 2013, a volunteer helped Mary visit the hospice every day to be with her ailing husband. After he passed away, Mary continued to receive the same support to carry on with her daily life, including an escort to visit a counsellor who helped her work through the pain and grief of losing her husband.  

Mary notes that the volunteers became like family to her, and she is thankful for their support.  She will forever be grateful for the Society of Sharing and their role in helping her family to have a better life.

We may never meet Mary, but we all share in her story through the work of our agency. With ShareLife funding, we are able to make an impact by providing volunteers who are committed to giving her a chance to live independently.

It is stories like Mary’s that bring to life the impact of our annual appeal in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Each year, more than 114,000 people across the archdiocese turn to one of our agencies for help, with countless more around the world receiving love, care and support as a result of our efforts. By contributing to ShareLife, you help make important services like this possible.

Since 1976, the ShareLife campaign has been an extension of the call we all share to love our neighbour as ourselves. We have a long history as a faith community of putting the hands of Christ into action to serve others, both here in our communities and around the world.

Agencies such as Providence Healthcare, the Good Shepherd Centre, Covenant House and St. Elizabeth Healthcare (all supported by ShareLife,) were either formed by or came to Toronto at the invitation of the Catholic Church.

We can also note that the Sisters of St. Joseph established Toronto’s first food bank and furniture bank, and Barrett House, operated by the Good Shepherd brothers, was Toronto’s first supportive housing residence for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Philippines, and while there visited projects that have been supported by the Pastoral Mission Fund, which is funded through ShareLife.

In the Diocese of Novaliches, I visited the Carmelite Sisters, where each weekend they bring together over 200 children, providing them with spiritual formation through catechism classes, as well as providing a meal, which for many of them is desperately needed. It was great to learn that, with our support, the sisters are able to bring the word of God, as well as food, to the children.

As you review the stories of Mary and the impact of the work of the Carmelite Sisters in the Philippines, consider how you can make a difference through a sacrificial gift to ShareLife. The campaign runs until the end of July, and all contributions received before then will be credited to the 2015 parish goal of $12.95 million. With an administrative cost ratio of less than 10 per cent, we ensure that the maximum amount possible is directed to people who need help.

Together we have the opportunity to make a significant difference — together we are working wonders!

(Peters is the Executive Director of ShareLife and Director of Development at Archdiocese of Toronto.)

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