2017 CHAIRPERSONS

BERKS COUNTY

John and Jacqueline Lesniewski (Jack and Jackie)

Growing up in devout Catholic families, we were always involved in supporting our Church in as many ways as possible including fund-raising. We followed this credo when we married and have always made our Church a priority. Today, we contribute to many different charities, but the Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) takes precedence along with our Church.

The BAA is special to us because we know that our contributions support our own diocesan community, and we are given ongoing evidence of what it accomplishes. For these reasons and many more, we consider it a privilege to serve as BAA Chairs for Berks County. As Chairs, we are not only contributing monetarily, we are encouraging our fellow parishioners and Berks Countians to work together in “Growing Our Parish Family.”

Through the BAA, we accept the Gospel invitation to love and serve those in need. Very simply, a gift to the BAA is an expression of God’s love for others. It is also a reminder that the Lord lives in each of us and reaches out to others through us.

Thank you for sharing your blessings and increasing our faith through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

CARBON COUNTY

Deacon John & Rita Mroz

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, ‘what you can do, I cannot and what I can do, you cannot….but together we can do something beautiful for God.” This is what the Bishop’s Annual Appeal is all about…doing something beautiful for God and with God. We are all, after all, His hands and feet on earth. Carrying on God’s good work by bringing comfort to those who are hurting, giving food to the hungry, clothing the poorly clad. We are His Presence when we cooperate with the grace of generosity placed within each of us.

My father once said “if you give the Church a hot dog, you get back a ham.” I was older when I realized that what he, in essence was saying was, you cannot out-give God! Everything we have, everything, comes from God. But God gives to us, in order to teach us how to give. It should not stay with us, but rather, come through us to a suffering world. We are not to hold onto everything that God gives, we are to allow a good portion to flow through us and into a needy world. The Bishop’s Annual Appeal i s a unique opportunity to do exactly this.

Join us once again this year, as we all come together to continue the legacy of giving. A legacy that includes but is not limited to: the incredible work of the Special Learning Centers for students with disabilities; the Soup Kitchens and Food Pantries for our needy neighborhoods; the ongoing care for our retired and infirmed priests; the education of our seminarians and scholarships for our schools; the support of expectant mothers, the unborn as well as assisting with adoptive services through our Catholic Charities.

So we ask again, “What better way to evangelize than by giving to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal?

LEHIGH COUNTY

Chris & Mary Birkhead

It is an honor to serve as chairs of the 2017 Bishops’ Annual Appeal for Lehigh County. We were attracted to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal many years ago due to its wide range of support for so many Diocesan needs.

These include Health & Human Services, Catholic Life & Evangelization, Vocations, and Education. This support touches the lives of infants, seniors, seminarians, retired and infirmed priests, Catholic school students, and our special needs children.

In particular, we were gratified to know that a portion of the Appeal’s proceeds went directly to Mercy School for Special Learning here in Lehigh County. Mercy’s students include children with Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism with approximately one third of them being nonverbal. In keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Mercy promises to love, respect and treasure each one of these unique individuals.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal provides a wonderful opportunity to share our blessings with those who need it most. We ask that you prayerfully consider making a donation in order to continue the mission of Jesus Christ throughout our Diocese. 

NORTHAMPTION COUNTY

Gabe & Gina Scala

It is an honor to serve as Chairs for the 2017 Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Northampton County. We are so blessed in so many ways and look forward to this opportunity to serve the Lord and assist those who need financial and/or spiritual help. We should all strive to support the wonderful efforts through financial and/ or volunteer opportunities, preferably both. As Mildred Norman wrote in Peace Pilgrim’s Beatitudes, “Blessed are they who give without expecting even thanks in return, for they shall be abundantly rewarded.”

With just one donation, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal supports a wide variety of causes. We are especially inspired by the mission of Catholic Charities, which provides compassionate human services with respect for the sanctity of all human life. With support from the BAA, Catholic Charities provides assistance to infants through the elderly, counseling, community support, outreach and so much more. They truly live the words of Jesus: “Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Thank you for this opportunity to serve in this capacity. We look forward to assuming our responsibilities for Northampton County and the overall Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY

Bob and Toni Plesnarski

We know that in a perfect world no one would need to be fed, clothed, or given drink to satisfy their thirst. There would be no sickness, no maladies, no drug abuse, no need for intervention. But alas, the world surely is not perfect. We will err many times in our lifetime. Yes, there have even been mistakes made over the years within our Church walls. It is during these times of challenge and reflection that we remember that we are all sinners. And yet, our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness refreshes our hearts and souls.

As parents of 6 children and 15 grandchildren, we have seen great gifts and great needs. We have enjoyed the blessings of Catholic education. We have benefitted from Catholic Charities support for our daughter who has suffered, and is still suffering from drug dependency. We have been volunteers in our parish, and see first-hand the toll that running a Catholic Church can take on those called to this duty. God bless them! We have seen the power of charity and prayer on behalf of our granddaughter, Brooklynn, who was born with spina bifada. Today, Brooklynn is four years old and doing fabulously. She is a fighter, and with God’s blessings, her future will be bright.

In our lives, we try to embrace imperfection and do as Christ taught: Love our neighbor. The Gospel also teaches us that charity is love. We pray that you will find it in your hearts to reach out through the BAA to support those in need of our prayers, our charity, and our love.