Sustained by the gift of faith
She had received the gift of faith. It had sustained her. And she was at the podium to thank God and those who had provided her with that gift.
About 160 people gathered for the 34th Annual Blue Ribbon Dinner to celebrate the mission, legacy and future of Guardian Angels Central Catholic High School in West Point and to hear from a special alumnus, 1998 grad, Alexis (Hugo) Funk.
Alexis received the gift of faith from God; and she told us how it was nurtured by her parents and then solidified during her years in the West Point Catholic schools. She was clear in her message. Without that faith she would not have been able to endure the frightening and exhausting days, months and years that she and her husband, Chris, withstood as they discovered and tended to their daughter, Victoria Rose, as she braved a life-altering illness.
Alexis’ faith got her out of bed in the morning. Her faith carried her through the countless doctor’s appointments and heartbreaking procedures her daughter faced with sweetness. Her faith carried them through the long nights of fear and unanswered questions and helplessness.
By our baptism, each of us is given the gift of faith from God. But not everyone acknowledges this gift. Alexis did. She received it. She nurtured it, and it continues to nourish her. Her faith in God’s love and mercy sustains her.
The theme for this year’s Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is "Receive the Gift." I thought about this during Alexis’ beautiful witness and in the days since. God gives us the gift of faith with which we come to know God’s love and mercy. He offers these gifts to us freely and in unimaginable abundance. We simply need to receive them. They are given to us to fortify us during our most despondent days, they are there to bring awe to our most blessed days, and they are given to us to share.
The response to this year’s Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is a true testament to the faith of many who have "received the gift." They have received and recognized God’s abundant gifts and responded to the invitation to share them with the archdiocese as gifts of leadership, financial resources and prayers.
As a result, countless others are given the opportunity to grow in their faith and know God’s love and mercy through the work of our parishes, schools and ministries, such as the 19,000 children who come to know Jesus in our Catholic schools; 19,000 more children who grow in their faith through religious education programs; hundreds who are in full communion with the church since Easter, having participated in RCIA; and thousands who participate in faith formation opportunities at each of our 140 parishes and missions across the archdiocese.
Your support of the Appeal touches the "Alexis" in each of our communities, who receive their faith and find ways to grow in the knowledge of God’s love and mercy. With this we find strength when we most need it and the understanding that it is the ultimate gift we can receive.
Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at email@example.com.