Stewardship and Sacrifice

Dear Friends in Christ:

There are some topics that will almost always get a response from people. Understanding, confusion, irritation, agreement, insight and disagreement are among the most common. Then there is the question of timing. To some, there is never a good time. For others, no matter the frequency, it is either too often or not often enough. Then there are people who simply don’t care or see the importance. And what is that subject that causes such a response? Church finances, of course.
A few remarks to give a baseline understanding. Our parish is greatly blessed in every way. For this, we first give thanks and praise to God for His generosity to us. We are indeed greatly blessed. We are also immensely grateful to every single one of our parishioners who generously support our parish and enable all the great things to take place here through their prayers, dedication and financial sacrifices. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our staff for their efforts in serving our parish community. Very little could be done without them. In a particular way, we are most grateful to our Finance and Business Office staff (Belinda LeBouef, Vivian Maestas, Kim Riley and Pete Prados) and our Parish Finance Council (John Schell, Randy Rainey, Bob Hodgson, Phil Rider and Stuart Hendrix) for their hard work, wise counsel, guidance and oversight. We will close out our books on June 30th and will make our Financial Report as part of our Annual Report to the Parish in the early Fall.
This was a rough year in many ways, not just financially. But God in His great love and mercy has blessed us and enabled us to get through it. Our parish income is down. We are currently at 2012-13 income levels. Unfortunately, expenses are not. Due to the actions (staff reductions, budget cuts and use of savings) taken immediately in the aftermath of the flood, we were able to avoid a deficit. While we have had a partial recovery in our collections over the months since the flood, income remains down. In the twelve-month period from May 2017 to April 2018, 38% of parishioners reduced their weekly giving and 34% have no record of giving. 3% of parishioners kept their giving the same as the previous year and 25% increased their weekly giving. Only 23% of parishioners contribute an average of $25 or more per week ($1300 per year).
If your home was flooded, you lost your job or suffered a financial set back, by all means it is understandable that your financial support to the mission of the church cannot be what it was. Please do not feel guilty. Thank you for your sacrifices and know of our prayers and support for you. If you are on a fixed income or find yourself in a tough financial situation and are doing the best you can, thank you for your generosity. If you were blessed and spared these struggles, if your stock portfolio did well, if you got a raise, if you are blessed with a job, or if you are financially in good shape, Thank God!
It is a good thing for all of us to annually examine our level of financial support to the parish. Does our level of support reflect God’s blessings to us and our family? Does it reflect our gratitude to the Lord? Does our financial support reflect our commitment to the mission of the Church? The Lord does not ask for equal gifts, He does ask for sacrifice. When considering our stewardship, we need to ask ourselves if our support is truly sacrificial. Is our giving an act of faith and love? The scriptures teach that we should give purposefully, proportionally and deliberately and that our giving be joyful. Does your giving reflect these biblical teachings?
Money is not the most important aspect of our faith. But money is important. It is important in how we use it. Like all of God’s gifts to us, we are to use our gifts to do good. Thank you to all who so generously enable our parish to do good for so many to the glory of God!

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately