Gathering Gives Thanks to Donors
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 5, 2023
ROCKFORD—This year a brunch was held Sept. 25 for the Perpetual Light Society members who support the Diocese of Rockford and its parishes and schools.
 
The 9:30 a.m. Mass and meal, held this year at Holy Family Parish in Rockford, were arranged instead of an evening dinner to accommodate requests from some people for a daytime event, according to Claudia 
 
Broman, director of the Office of Charitable Giving. The event is an annual opportunity to thank Catholics who have remembered the diocese or parishes in their will or trust, and/or who have been generous donors to their parish or the diocese.
 
Bishop David Malloy celebrated the Mass along with Holy Family pastor, Father Phillip Kaim, St. James-Rockford pastor, Father Jhonatan Sarmiento, and Msgr. Thomas Dzielak who serves at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Maple Park and with the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. Brunch followed in the parish hall along with additional thanks to the donors.
 
Their donations “in tribute to the life of the Church are so needed and so appreciated,” Broman said in her remarks. 
 
Broman said she enjoyed the thoughts of a pastor who recently “talked about the root word of ‘generosity.’” The same meaning is found within words like “generation” and “generate,” she said.
 
“Generosity is generative. It allows things to move forward, allows things to continue,” she said. “I want you to reflect on that … how what you provide is generative … (and) allows thing to move forward that you may not necessarily see …”
 
As an example of unseen ministry, Father Jhonatan Sarmiento, J.C.L., who is an advocate for the Diocesan Tribunal, spoke at the brunch of his work in that ministry, which Broman identified as “unvideo-able.”
 
His “Serving Amidst Brokenness” talk was about, he said, “one kind of service that I have been entrusted to help with — it is serving those with broken lives. I’m talking about marriages.”
 
As one of the Tribunal advocates, “we have to encounter that sad situation (of) broken marriages. And there is not much joy, let me tell you.” But, he said as he quoted the Bible, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He heals the brokenhearted, He binds up their wounds.”
 
The word “tribunal” sounds “like a Western word,” Father Sarmiento said, acknowledging that many people “take time to come forward” to seek healing and an annulment.
 
The Tribunal, he said, “is not too scary … We get to know them, talk with them, know their history. Each one is different … (the) relationships, (their) dreams, trust, faith, sometimes their hearts, and of course, in all of this is anger … It’s a very difficult job, but it needs to be done.”
 
Some of those assisted by the Tribunal, he said, find it “difficult to remember what happened and why it happened.” It is, he added, a “process of healing” and some who come “still have open wounds.”
 
“Serving means taking the time to listen, carefully, to every story,” Father Sarmiento said. “They come to the Church looking for hope … and to see if there is a place for them. They want to know if they still can be united with all the Church … (we are) walking with them. They seek to trust you (with) their lives … each one has different crosses when they come to this …
 
“There are seven to eight of us working there, getting to know these different stories, working with them, praying, too, of course, asking God to help us see what happened …
 
“They all want to tell their story; they hope for something different (for their lives) … but above all they want to tell the story …”
 
The priest struggled a bit as he tried to express the results of this hidden ministry. 
 
“The conversion of lives sometimes is amazing,” he explained. “They found a new place of God in their lives, a new opportunity. They just want to also approach the altar. (And they are) thrilled to be united with all of us.”
 
“Thank you so much for helping … when you help the diocese, you also help the work we do and the service we offer … We know God wants us to be there. The job needs to be done.
 
“When you hear of (those who long for healing after a divorce), tell them the Church is also helping; just tell them ‘Get close to the Church’ because we are serving in the means of brokenness.”
 
In his closing remarks, Bishop Malloy expanded on the “hidden” work within the diocese.
 
In its appeals, the diocese tends to highlight “so many of those tasks that are so attractive to donors,” he said. “But behind all that, as Father said, there’s a whole level (of) behind the scenes” work of 
the support staff.
 
“We can’t make all of that visible,” the bishop said, “but people are doing all of that.” First he reflected on the infrastructure needed to make Catholic schools possible. He noted also that Father Sarmiento’s parish is in the process of rebuilding after a lightning-caused fire, and that there is much support work done at the diocesan level “to assist that as well.” Without going into detail, he mentioned, for example, “all of the contracts that have to be reviewed and have to be done right,” and the finance department work. “It is so helpful to have that kind of back up,” he said.
 
“When you are giving, yes, there are those (visible service) things you can focus on,” Bishop Malloy said, “but I hope, in generosity and love you are aware and quite willing to give to those elements of what makes all of that possible, which are very much behind the scenes.”
 
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