This week Catholics learned through local media about a fundraising initiative of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Though details are set to emerge early next year in a public announcement, 12 parishes already are engaged in an early “pilot” phase. It’s the latest step in a planning process a year and a half in the making.

During this time, the Archdiocese celebrated its bicentennial. The theme of that memorable time – serving the people of God in the beginning, now and always – represents the foundation of this current effort now in its earliest stages.

Along the way, the bishops, priests and laity throughout the Archdiocese have been discussing and assessing the needs of our local Church. People in parishes have been determining what they need to strengthen the life of their parish. They are also looking at ways to enhance the Church’s commitment to Catholic education and its social and health care ministries through Catholic Human Services.

And they are seeking to support the legacies of faith built in stone that have been handed on to our generation by the innumerable Catholics of the past. It’s up to us to maintain the buildings we use today which continue to serve Catholics by lifting hearts in worship to almighty God in the liturgies we celebrate.

Since strengthening parishes is a major element of the initiative, it is encouraging that the first 12 parishes are seeing positive responses so far. The planning for all the other parishes in our spanerse Church, blessed in so many ways, continues. The almost 1.5 million Catholics of the Archdiocese will be asked to look at their parish and the institutions through which the Church serves all God’s people in order to continue the good work that was begun here two centuries ago.

It’s a way in which we put into practice the words of the fundraising effort’s theme, to build upon the “heritage of faith and vision of hope” we share, fortified by God’s enduring grace.