Bishop’s Annual Appeal support provides ‘community of love, friendships, joy’ for youth

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In November 2021, the Diocese of Nashville’s Office of Faith Formation hosted 64 youth and 11 adults for one of the six SEARCH retreats for the 2021-22 academic schoolyear at Camp Marymount in Fairview, Tennessee. SEARCH is one of many programs that benefits from support of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries. Weekend retreats are set for the 2023-24 academic year. Submitted photo

High school juniors and seniors are introduced to a community of love, friendships and joy through peer-to-peer leadership and interaction when they participate in a SEARCH retreat sponsored by the Diocese of Nashville.

That important program is one of many people are supporting when they donate to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries.

“SEARCH is a great opportunity for teens to meet other teens throughout the diocese and form lifelong friendships, all while growing in their own personal relationship with Christ,” said Shelby Conner, associate director for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. During the retreats, “teen leaders give talks to help relate the faith to their own life” often focusing on topics such as faith, facing challenges, forgiveness and more.

“It’s real peer-to-peer evangelization,” Conner added. “They’re journeying throughout the weekend with teens who know what they’re truly going through, and that’s what makes SEARCH so special.”

Additionally, the three-day retreats offer teens the opportunity to attend daily Mass, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and participate in Adoration.

For the 2023-24 academic year, five SEARCH retreats are scheduled with the first slated for Sept. 8-10 at Camp Marymount in Fairview. While each student pays a registration fee, it is significantly less thanks to the additional support provided by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal benefits five key areas: vocations, which receives 25 percent of the money; Catholic Charities, which receives 20 percent of the money; religious education, which receives 24 percent of the money; youth ministries, which receives 10 percent of the money; and general ministries, which receives 21 percent of the money.   

Earlier this month, several mailings were sent out to parishioners throughout Middle Tennessee encouraging their support for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  

“The Bishop’s Annual Appeal helps support many ministries throughout the diocese. One of these ministries is the SEARCH program organized through the Office of Faith Formation,” said Patrick Held, annual appeal coordinator. “Thousands of young teens have participated in this program since it was started in 1971. 

“I, myself, participated in SEARCH #287 before I left for college,” he continued. “SEARCH allowed me to encounter Jesus Christ in a unique way before I entered young adulthood and helped inspire me to spread the Good News. Your support of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal will help ensure young teens experience Jesus Christ as they prepare to enter young adulthood.”

Working towards a goal of $3 million for the 2023 appeal, as of Monday, Aug. 28, $1.9 million or approximately 63 percent has been raised. And as the number continues to grow, it will ensure the continuance of the important program.

“We’re very thankful to our generous donors who help make the SEARCH retreat possible as SEARCH allows our teens to truly enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Conner said.  “SEARCH is truly an encounter with the Lord that our teens are able to experience as they enter into adulthood.”

People can donate to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries in one of three ways: 

• Online at where donors can opt to make a one-time gift or set up a monthly gift.

• Texting BISHOP to 615-552-1101.

• Mailing cash or a check to Office of Stewardship and Development, Catholic Pastoral Center, 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214. Checks should be payable to the Diocese of Nashville. Cash donations should include the donor’s name and parish, so the parish receives proper credit for its designated portion for the overall appeal.   

For more information, call Held at 615-760-2763 or e-mail 

For more information about SEARCH, visit Registration for the Sept. 8-10 retreat is due by Sept. 1.

SEARCH Retreat dates for the rest of the year include Nov. 10-12, Dec. 1-3, Jan. 12-14, 2024, and March 1-3, 2024. 

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