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 | By Father Dwight Ezop

Supported by DSA Gifts – Inspired by Gratitude

We learn lots of lessons when we are young. One of the most important of those is the proper response that we are to offer when we receive a gift—“Thank you.”  Whether our gratitude is expressed in spoken words or written into a note or a card, our words and actions reveal not only our gratitude to the giver of the gift, but also our acknowledgment that we have indeed received their gift. Our awareness of the gifts we have received in turn encourages us to offer thanks to the giver.

When it comes to the gifts we receive from God, the list could be endless. In my own case, that list of gifts starts with the gift of life. A few months ago, I shared with you the story of my adoption as an infant. It was made possible through the hard work of Catholic Charities, which worked like a bridge, joining me to my parents. From there, I was given the gift of new life in baptism and had the joy of growing up in a family filled with faith. My faith was encouraged to grow through a strong parish religious education program. That program also included well-developed opportunities in youth ministry that helped me to discover the value of service to the larger community and to the Church. Each of these God-given gifts assisted me during my youth.

When I went away to college, I initially fell away from the active practice of my faith. That Sunday in 1987 when I returned, I found a parish community enlivened by an energetic pastor and a well-formed and empowered lay staff. They encouraged me to continue to explore a life of service to the Church, and because of their example and encouragement, I found the path that would lead me to priesthood. As I followed that path, it would lead to the gift of five years of seminary and then to priestly ordination. These gifts from God helped me to prepare for priesthood.

Through the course of 25 years of priestly ministry, I have had the privilege of serving four very different parish communities, ministering as the pastor of three of them. I have collaborated with dozens of parish and school staff and hundreds of committed volunteers, who helped to bring to life a wide variety of parish programs and ministries, as well as two parish schools. Those schools, ministries and programs were each designed to serve thousands of people of all ages.

Together, we celebrate Eucharist, baptize babies, prepare children and youth for sacraments, bid farewell to friends and family, go on retreats, assist the poor, care for the sick, welcome the stranger and so much more. These gifts, given by God, are part of the adventure of priesthood.

These are among the many gifts for which I offer my thanks to God.

These are also the reason why I choose to offer my own thanksgiving to God by supporting our annual Diocesan Services Appeal—the DSA. So many of the gifts that I have outlined have been made possible by, or have been supported by, the DSA through the years. Through the shared generosity of people all around our diocese, the lives of thousands of people are touched and changed in positive ways.

Take some time to think about the many gifts that God has shared with you through the course of your life. I hope doing so helps each of us to be more deeply aware of God’s tremendous generosity. As we become aware of God’s generous gifts to each of us, let us offer back to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Take some time to learn more about the many ministries made possible through support of the DSA. Then take the next step and offer your prayerful and financial support of the DSA as a way of saying “Thank you” to God for all that God has done for you. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.