Looking back on our Christmas Season

Dear Friends in Christ:

What a beautiful Christmas season we have had. The crowds, the liturgies, the beautiful music, Gift Giving Sunday, the Children’s Advent Concert all contributed to making this Christmas just wonderful. The opportunity to come to church and celebrate the birth of our Savior as a parish family was especially important as so many of our families are still very much in recovery mode from the floods. So a word of thanks to all of our parishioners and staff who worked so hard to make our Christmas liturgies and events so beautiful. On a personal note, Frs. Clark, Chuck and I, wish to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who remembered us at this Christmas time. The cards, sweets, prayers and other gifts were most thoughtful and kind. Please know of our sincere appreciation and thanks.

I would also like to say a word of thanks to all who made a special “End of the Year” financial offering to the parish. Due to the flooding which impacted so many of our parishioners, the parish has also been impacted financially. We have had to slash our budget by 28%, we had a reduction in our paid staff and we are continuing to cope with the effects of the flood. These financial gifts were very much needed and are greatly appreciated. Our parish suffered more than $300,000 in property damages and an additional $300,000 in immediate business losses. Longer term losses are still being calculated. Shortly before Christmas, we were informed that our insurance has declined to pay on our business losses and is only paying $37,000 towards the damage claims. These losses will have to be covered from our savings. Like all of our parishioners and neighbors who have suffered from the floods, we are working for the day when things get back to normal.

Last month, a discernment for new members of Pastoral Council was held. The council is a body of parishioners who assist me in my ministry as pastor with their wise and prudent counsel. They listen to me and I in turn listen to them concerning those matters which affect our parish. With new members coming onto the council that means we have members going off of the council after serving two full terms. Among the major accomplishments during these council members’ tenure were the Continuing the Vision Capital Campaign, the renovations of the church and the 50th Anniversary celebrations. At the first meeting with the new council members, the outgoing members repeatedly expressed to the new members that one of the things that they appreciated the most was a deeper and clearer understanding of the parish. Many commented that when they first joined the council they had no idea of the breadth of activities, the expansiveness of the ministries and programs or the complexity of the parish. Indeed, there is a lot more than what most people see. I am grateful to all our council members for their service and wish to say a word of thanks to those who have completed their terms: Karla Roberts, Chris Griffiths, Eric Bach, Norris Bond, John Schell and David Dettling. We welcome and are grateful for those who will be serving a three year term on the council: Catherine Crochet, Mollie Delouche, Will Haley, Trey Wakefield, Jim Wanja, Leigh Schuelke and Keith O’Connor. Those continuing on the council are Blanca Perez, Ginny Lee, Angel Pozo, Helder Eloy, Mary Toland, Kyle Stanzel, John Kill and Donna Grimm. In the coming months, we will be working to identify the priorities and needs of the parish as we plan and move forward in the years to come.

As you can see, the organ was not completed before Christmas. The last shipment of pipes that was to be delivered were damaged in transit and had to be replaced. Since all the pipes are custom made, this takes a while. There was also a delay with a shipment of the façade pipes being fabricated in England which is holding up the completion of the exterior case of the organ. The builders assure us that all is progressing. Once the organ is completed, we will then be able to complete the sound system. Due to Harvey and the floods, we have had to wait on certain remaining items. Among those are the exterior lights to the south side entrance to the church, additional bollards on the north side parking lot and a new flat roof for the old church. All of this work is in progress or on the schedule.

Lastly, we are blessed to have twenty parents serving on four committees (Evaluation, Planning, Outreach and Search) for our Youth Formation Program. They are working to evaluate our Youth Formation and Youth Ministry programs and assisting in the hiring process for a new Director of Youth Formation and additional staff for Youth Ministry. It is our hope to have things settled in the coming months. In the meantime, we are most grateful for the tremendous work of our Youth Formation staff (Carolina Sayago, our Interim Director, Tashina Cooper, Kari Artzer, Mary Pelletier, Anabel Acosta, Ann Turner and Carol Madigan). The program is moving along beautifully. What has been absolutely key is a renewed appreciation that our program does not work at all without the parents and families. The greater the participation and active involvement of the parents, the better the program works. Thanks to all of our parents who take such an active role in the Youth Formation program.

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately