Just as we were about to go to print with our spring edition of Extension magazine, with articles written and layout complete, the world turned upside down. For the last few weeks, all of us have found ourselves living in the frightening reality of global pandemic. Even as I am writing this new letter to you, it is weeks away from when you will be reading it.
In this terribly unsettling time, I want you to know that I am holding each of you and your families in my heartfelt prayers for your health, safety and wellbeing. And I’m also asking you to join me in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Extension Dioceses, living under siege in the most under-resourced regions of our country.
As you read our magazine, you will obviously notice that there is no mention of COVID-19. Yet the articles do address something that we all need to hear right now as we are challenged by the spread of the virus. Every story you will read is a story of hope, inviting us to deepen our sense of solidarity with one another even as we are called to practice physical self-distancing.
I genuinely hope that you realize how much your personal generosity and your profound act of solidarity with these good people in our Extension Dioceses have made possible these inspirational stories in our magazine.
Nevertheless, right at this moment, each one of these vibrant, courageous communities is barely making it. Because of the lack of day-to-day funds for operations—the result of our necessitated national shutdown of social gatherings including weekly Sunday liturgy—they are all struggling for survival. You may not know this, but most of the parishes we support have an average Sunday income of scarcely $300!
Catholic Extension and you, our treasured donors, are their only lifeline. There is no group of philanthropic donors nearby to them or in a neighboring parish to come to their aid. They are totally isolated except for the bond of solidarity that you have created with them through Catholic Extension.
Their stories of hope urgently need your generosity and also in the months ahead. I am asking each one of you in this Easter moment of hope and Christ’s promise of new life to please contribute to our new fund.
May I close by offering another way of expressing our solidarity with one another. Cardinal Blase Cupich, the chancellor of Catholic Extension, has written this Litany of Prayer for us during this perilous time. I invite us all to pray this in common with one another until the pandemic ends. Easter blessings to you!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. John J. Wall
President, Catholic Extension