Sharing Gospel joy through the 2015 BLA

The 2015 Bishop's Lenten Appeal (BLA) was a tremendous success. More than 44,000 households in the diocese responded to the appeal, surpassing $17 million in pledges, thereby exceeding the 2015 appeal goal.

"I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of generosity and compassion shown by the faithful of our diocese who supported the BLA," said Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. "The ministries and services funded by this appeal are able to help people experience God's immense love for them through His Son Jesus Christ. What a marvelous witness to our 2015 BLA theme, 'Stewards of Christ sharing Gospel joy!'"

The BLA provides Catholics in the diocese the opportunity to join together as one body in Christ. With support from the BLA, thousands of people are coming to know Jesus, feeling His grace and strengthening their relationship with Him.

The ministries, offices and programs funded by the BLA are vital parts of a multi-faceted framework that serves children, families, students, teachers, clergy and thousands of people across the diocese. Youth ministers are being trained, Catholic schools are flourishing, men are preparing for the priesthood, expectant mothers are being supported and encouraged, campus ministry is thriving at local colleges, retired priests are being cared for and so much more.

Again this year, the diocese was the beneficiary of a $500,000 challenge gift. The challenge gift was established as a way to inspire parishioners to consider increasing their BLA gift from their previous donation amount. The increased amount is then matched to help build up the Catholic Charities Endowment and the Diocesan Tuition Assistance Endowment. These two endowment funds have grown in recent years by this matching gift, which together, are now assisting hundreds of needy families each year.

Next year, in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the 2016 Bishop's Lenten Appeal will feature the theme, "Go forth as heralds of God's mercy." The 2016 BLA mailing will be sent in mid-January, with Commitment Weekend taking place Feb. 6-7, providing an opportunity for all Catholics to join in support of the appeal at parishes and missions in the diocese.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015