St Paul, in today’s second reading, is reflecting on his life as he is brought to Rome to be tried as a Christian. He knows full well that he would be martyred for the sake of Jesus. He sums up his life in the following words:
I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
Our faith community is also on a journey heading towards the new Jerusalem. Like St Paul, this Sunday is an opportunity to take a step back and ask ourselves: How well are we doing? Jay and Lora, our trustees will be giving their bi annual report this morning.
Back in June, I put forward my goal for the parish: that we become Spirit filled disciples of Jesus. I think the Spirit of Jesus is truly active and alive in our parish and we are striving to be true to the mission of the Church: to spread the Gospel by word and action. However unlike St Paul, we are not at the end of the journey. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that we need to be people of prayer. Only in prayer, can we accomplish the mission. Every program and every activity of the community needs to be measured in how it helps us be people of mission. I know that I have fallen into the trap of measuring things by how many people attend; not to see the growth that occurs in the people who attend an event. This is God’s church and He is the one who is leading us; this is the lesson I need to learn.
Some goals I would like to set for us are the following:
• To grow in our life of prayer through Scripture sharing and periodic small faith sharing groups
• To enter with you into a time of reflection on who we are: one tool we will be using will be a book called “Rebuilt” to help us see how another parish like ours was revitalized into a parish of faith and action.
• To listen to your needs and desires for this parish and to see what may be possible
With God’s grace and our humility, we can make this happen.
At this time I would like to invite Jay and Lora up for their reports to you as the trustees of this parish.
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be with you this morning. Hope you all enjoyed the crisp but beautiful day yesterday. Not so much today! I have brought a new partner in crime with me to the ambo today. Jay O’Connor has stepped into the Trustee role vacated by Dave Hans (who I see is cheering us on from the pew today). Jay and I are grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about the state of our parish with you.
The Church of St. Mary’s continues to be an active community. The halls are alive with the 375 students enrolled in Faith Formation. Thank you to our Catechists for these young ones, and our adult parishioners as well! Our Liturgical and Music ministries continue to give us wonderful opportunities for weekend worship. This year to date we have celebrated 25 baptisms, 5 marriages, 18 First Reconciliation and Eucharist, confirmed 32 young people and lovingly prayed for the eternal rest of 11 departed souls at their funerals.
Week after week we open our space to various organizations in the area. A wonderful opportunity to outreach to others in the community. Our ministry volunteers carry forth Christ’s mission and define who we are by the work they do for others. We are in the midst of Reverence of Life month with the showers of baby items. There are many opportunities to be spirit filled disciples and new people with new ideas are always welcome! One new activity underway is outreach to Veteran’s experiencing homeless. The food drive is one component of that. There are so many who need our help – please continue to do so!
More than 300 of us participated in the Finding Your Greatness event in September and learned about the four things that makes us a Dynamic Catholic: Prayer, Study, Generosity, Evangelization. Do you remember making a commitment to improve your practice of at least one of those things? What did you commit to? How are you doing? Don’t be discouraged, it’s never too late to start, or restart!
Our Parish Council is working on a couple of strategic activities to help us become even healthier parishes. First is a definition of one common mission statement to cover both the Church of St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist/St. Joseph’s. We are using the “3 big words” format as a way to focus and simplify our mission so it can be easily understood and repeated by all. What 3 big words would you use to describe who we are and what we do? We brainstormed about 30 words at our last meeting and will narrow it down to our favorite 10 or so. We will present those 10 to you all for your feedback, and voting for the final three. Stay tuned!
Another activity of the Parish Council is using a book club format. As Father Tom mentioned, we are reading Rebuilt – the story of a local community church brought back to life as a vibrant Catholic parish. We are hoping to learn from one parish’s successful journey and apply it to our own desire to make our parishes the best version of ourselves. We’ll keep you posted.
As a parish community, we are embarking on a transformational period. The unprecedented challenges our church is facing requires us to strengthen the bonds we have with each other and with our faith. This is not the time to give up. It is the time to fight for the Church we vision. Will you join us?
Thank you Lora and good morning everyone. It is truly an honor to be standing before you today as a Trustee.
I have been asked to present an update on some of the financial conditions of the parish. The good news is that for the fiscal year ending in June, the parish’s revenues were greater than expenses. In this day and age, that is an accomplishment that we should be proud of and acknowledge the hard work of the staff, parishioners and volunteers who work tirelessly to carry out our mission in the most efficient and often most cost-effective ways.
We cannot however, think that this will automatically continue given that the largest piece of our revenues, the regular collections, again dropped from the prior year while the largest piece of the parish’s expenses, salary and benefits, increased slightly. While we might wish that what happened with the fishes and loaves will happen with our money, we know that our situation is not unique. But with the steady hand of Fr. Tom, our Finance Committee and so many of you, we can and will keep moving forward.
The new year brings new projects and new ideas. The renovation of the men’s bathroom, a project that came out of our Reigniting the Faith campaign, is almost complete and then work will begin on the ladies’ room. Collection for the Bishop’s Appeal is just over 80% right now and letters have been sent to those families that we have not heard from. In addition, the annual golf outing in August raised almost $7,000 with 64 golfers and more than that for dinner. Clearly there continues to be wonderful support for the church. We will need to continue these efforts and look for any and all opportunities to create additional revenue sources, not just for the sake of raising money but hopefully as a result of activities that continue to foster the community that is St. Mary’s.
Speaking of which, we hope to soon hold a talking group about an event or events that might be held in the place of the gala. There has been interest expressed in doing something and we want to start to gather ideas. I have volunteered to lead that first discussion and would love to not be the only one in the room so please look for an announcement in the bulletin if you are interested in being part of that.
No doubt, we will potentially face financial challenges in the future. However, as has been demonstrated so many times in the past, the family that is St. Mary’s has always met those challenges and then some. We ask that you continue to support our parish, encourage others to do the same and pray for all that we need to continue our faith journey.