Two letters, one message: Values matter

In the past two weeks I was struck by the tone of two separate letters I received in my capacity as director of Development for the diocese. The first was a simple thank you card from a young man who received a scholarship from the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, FACE, formerly known as the St. Mary’s Fund. The second letter was from a young man who was undertaking training for a marathon in Seattle Wash., and wanted to dedicate his fund-raising efforts to fighting depression. He was inspired by the call of this year’s theme of the Catholic Charities Appeal, specifically the “Comfort the Sorrowful” passage. In both letters I found the spirit of generosity and gratitude that is itself inspiring.

The young boy wrote: “Dear Mr. Campbell, my name is Joey. Thank you so much for awarding me a scholarship from the FACE Fund. It was very generous of you. I am the youngest of six and two of my brothers and sisters are in college, the rest are all in Catholic schools. Thank you again for awarding me this money. It is a great help in my education for my family. Sincerely, Joey.”

A simple, thoughtful note from a young man who is obviously blessed with good parents who are teaching him to express gratitude for the blessings in his life. One correction that I must inject however is to acknowledge that the generosity was not mine. I am simply in the privileged position to administer the funds that are raised each year by the people of the diocese through our annual dinners and sponsorships. It is those people who chose to make supporting Catholic education a priority for themselves and in many cases their businesses, that provide the funds to help Joey and more than 800 like him each year.

The same day I received a letter from a parishioner who wrote:

“Since the Diocese of Fall River has in its Catholic Charities Appeal in their theme ‘Comfort the Sorrowful,’ wherein support for a number of programs helps alleviate the affliction and condition of depression for many people in numerous communities throughout southeastern, Massachusetts, I would like to propose a means of reaching additional people from young to old, through running a marathon to raise awareness and funds for the Diocese of Fall River.

“Having run two marathons a year for the past six years, I’ve run for two charities: Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, aka Unbound, and the Damien Food Pantry, both of which contributed to corporal works of mercy. Now I’m looking to focus on the Spiritual works of mercy — specifically the one referenced in your Catholic Charities appeal — ‘Comfort the Sorrowful.’ 

“Sometimes, these works are overlooked, so I am excited to begin raising awareness and planting the seed amongst the faithful here in Fall River and all the way to the west coast in Seattle for my 12th marathon on November 29.”

The young man’s name is Rob Grant and he presents a compelling case to help him raise the funds necessary to compete in this effort: 

One in four adults struggle with a treatable mental health condition each year — approximately 60 million people.

Ten percent of us experience a serious mental illness in the course of our lives.

Fourteen percent of us suffer with alcohol dependence.

Fourteen percent of us suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

One in four families have someone or a family member with mental illness.

People who suffer with major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and others tend to be isolated and marginalized by society. The stigma associated with mental illness still persists despite scientific advancements and new medications that can help those with these brain diseases. Most major mental illnesses are treatable diseases through the right use of professional help, medication, and community support.

Rob concludes, “With deep gratitude I would be honored to represent the Diocese of Fall River, which is deeply concerned with the temporal, and most importantly, the Spiritual needs of the people of God who suffer and need Spiritual consolations, hope, and inspiration.”

If you would like more information, contact Rob at the following address: Robert J. Grant, 52 County Road, Unit 16, Mattapoisett, 02739.

Gratitude and dedication. Two forces for good that we pray will inspire more of each.

Anchor columnist James Campbell is director of the diocesan Development Office/Catholic Charities Appeal/St. Mary’s Education Fund.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts