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Bishop Koenig gives thanks to donors who helped push Catholic appeal to record heights last year in Diocese of Wilmington — Photo gallery

Bishop Koenig greets St. Mary Magdalen parishioner Matthew Lavelle, and his parents, Greg and Ruth, members of the Catholic appeal "Circle of Honor" after a prayer service at St. Ann's in Wilmington. Dialog photo/Don Blake

About 200 Catholics who contributed to last year’s record-setting Faith and Charity Catholic Appeal joined Bishop Koenig for a prayer service and reception Feb. 16 at St. Ann’s parish in Wilmington.

The “Circle of Honor” event was the first of a series to be held around the diocese in coming weeks as a way of thanking contributors for the nearly $5.5 million in donations to the annual appeal conducted by the development office in the Diocese of Wilmington. The money supports ministries and programs that serve people throughout the diocese. The donors in this group contributed a minimum of $500.

Sheila O’Hagan McGirl, director of the office of development, welcomed donors, showed a video demonstrating some of the work accomplished with the money and introduced members of the diocesan leadership including those from Catholic Charities, the Catholic education department, the office for religious education and the communications office.

“It’s really a joy to be with you to gather at the beginning of this year’s appeal,” said Bishop Koenig. “I especially want to thank all of you as members of the Circle of Honor and your commitment to the good works of our diocese. Thank you for being present, and also to keep in mind those who have asked for prayers.

“This year’s appeal theme is ‘Shining the light of Christ.’ I was especially mindful of this a few weeks ago during the feast of the Presentation when Mary and Joseph went to the temple of Jerusalem in order to present Jesus. A man sees this child in his mother’s arms and realizes the body of Christ has come to this temple.

“He has now entered into the human race. No one else notices except this one person who has been waiting. He praises God. ‘Your words have been fulfilled.’ This life is the light of the human race,” the bishop said.

“We begin this night being grateful to God for the ways that Christ has entered into this world 2,000 years ago and the way that Christ has continued to be a part of us. There are a lot of things vying for our attention, but you chose to come here to thank God, to join together with one another and to strengthen the ways we look to Christ. Let’s be grateful for the fact that the light of Christ came into this world.”

McGirl said last year’s campaign — “Walking by Faith” — enabled ministries and programs to serve more people impacted by the economic downturn experienced throughout the year. She said 2,580 Circle of Honor donors made an average gift of $1,250, and in 2022 contributed $3.2 million to the campaign.

“As Catholics, we learn through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we are called to help our neighbors in their physical and spiritual needs,” McGirl said. “To instruct, counsel, console, comfort, visit the sick – feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and provide housing – these works are assisted and supported by our Faith and Charity ministries, and your support strengthens and grows these ministries.”

“You are shining the light of Christ and bringing hope to your neighbors,” Bishop Koenig said.

It was the first of five Circle of Honor events throughout the diocese that run through the end of March.