As is our normal practice, even in this far from normal time, we will publish our Annual Report on the pastoral and financial activities of the parish in the coming weeks. We are currently still in the process of tallying and analyzing the data and composing the report. Today however, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what the report is showing. It should be of little surprise that since the advent of the pandemic which has spanned two fiscal years, almost all of our numbers are down. This goes for our pastoral numbers (sacraments received, class enrollments, attendance, events, etc.) and our financial numbers (income and expenses). When looking at the data, context is important. FY 19-20 only had four months under the pandemic, yet during that time we were totally shut down. During FY 20-21, we were operating but were impacted by the pandemic restrictions during the entire year. One of the many oddities is that while almost all our numbers were down, they were not uniformly down. There was a range from 20-50%.
Most of our pastoral and sacramental programs were severely impacted last year. We were able to recover some and worked diligently to catch up with those who were unable to receive the sacraments early on during the pandemic. Yet, even with our efforts, our numbers remain about half of what they were pre-covid. We made great strides in reaching out to the homebound in care centers and in homes, although this was very uneven due to many restrictions beyond our control. By use of livestreaming and other technologies, we were able to keep in contact with many parishioners and continue our formation ministries for children, youth and adults. Some of our formation and pastoral activities were able to resume in 2021 but others remained closed. We are continuing to work to bring back those activities that were suspended (Social Services Ministries, Parish Life activities). St. John Vianney had very few deaths due to COVID. Every death is mourned and every infected person is a cause for concern but unlike other parts of the city, our area and our parish did not experience the severity that other parishes did. Even though we had very few COVID deaths, we had the most funerals in FY 20-21 in the history of the parish.
Compared to many parishes, our Mass attendance looks relatively healthy. However, looks can be deceiving. In reality, our Mass attendance remains significantly lower than prior to the pandemic. The good news is that each week shows a little improvement. Outreach, rebuilding Mass attendance and parish participation and engagement are going to be our greatest and most important priorities.
When the pandemic broke and the archdiocese suspended all operations in the parishes in March 2020, we had an emergency response plan in place. Our planning and our vigilance in those early days and throughout the pandemic enabled us to avoid a financial crisis. By God’s grace and the continued support of our parishioners, we have been able to manage our financial obligations responsibly. We dramatically slashed budgets and worked to keep all our full-time staff employed. Our Sunday collections are slowly on the road to recovery, but all other areas of income remain dramatically down. The shut down and the restrictions impacted our income and many of our expenditures. We have kept several full-time positions open as we are not yet operating at full speed. This, in turn, had a positive impact on the budget. As the pandemic restrictions have eased and finances have improved, we have also been able to bring back most of our part time and seasonal staff.
Even though we were unable to have the bazaar last year and all of our other sources of income were down, we not only continued our charitable giving to poor parishes, schools and others, we increased the amount. This was done by our sacrificing so that those who have less would not be further harmed.
The number of contributors to the parish and to DSF remains significantly below pre-covid numbers but we keep adding a few every week.
As Christians, we always live in hope! Our parish is greatly blessed in so many ways, we cannot count them all. This year, we will continue to focus on our parish priorities of OUTREACH, ENGAGEMENT, DISCIPLESHIP AND LEADERSHIP. We continue to work each day to live in the joyfulness of Living Faith, Changing Lives and Making a Difference.
In pace Christi,