Dear Friends in Christ:
Once again, we have our Annual Report on the state of the parish posted on our webpage. Here you can see the entire report with our yearly financial statement. A few things about the report and some things not in the report. First, all of our numbers are down. After years of our numbers going up in almost every category, last year was a challenging one in many ways. Most of the decline can be summed up in one word “Harvey”! Attendance declined, participation declined, finances declined, Youth Formation enrollment declined, number of staff declined, number of people celebrating sacraments declined. What went up was faith and trust. In the face of our hardships we were there for each other and God was there for us! Thus, as I said in the Chronicle article naming our parish a “Harvey Hero”, it was indeed our parish’s finest hour as our faith and God’s grace carried us through the biggest disaster ever to hit our area. God’s love and grace continue to be at work in our midst.
Now to the challenging part. We have to keep moving forward. In the wake of reducing staff and cutting our budget by 30% for the last two years, now is the time for us to pick up the pieces and move forward. While many parishioners are still not in their homes, most of us are. While many lost their jobs in the energy industry downturn of 2015, jobs are back and the economy is doing well. Despite the horrible news and other revelations of sexual misconduct in the past by some clergy, we are still joyfully proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and the beauty of the Catholic faith in a vibrant manner. We can never forget that Jesus alone offers each and every one of us The Way, The Truth and The Life. Like St. Peter, we say in response to the Lord’s question if we are going to leave him too:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (Jn 6)
In this Bulletin I have included some pie charts to show where we are financially. Details may be found in the Annual Report on the parish webpage. Thanks to the wise counsel of our Pastoral and Finance Councils and the dedication and sacrifice of our staff and so many faithful parishioners, we were able to avoid a deficit for 2017-18. This was only accomplished by dramatic cuts to spending, including staff reductions. While we reduced spending in every area we could, there were still some increases that were out of our hands. We have seen further increases this year in insurance costs. We have not recouped all of our losses from the flood. We covered the immediate losses and repairs by using some of our savings. These costs were not covered by insurance.
While we are slowly returning to normal we need to focus on reaching out to the people in our area to invite them to become part of our faith community, especially those who have fallen away from the Catholic faith and those who have no church home. We need to reach out to those who already belong to the parish and invite and encourage them to participate more in the life of the parish, especially young families and young professionals. We also need to ask for those who are able to do so, to more fully support the parish financially. Lastly and most importantly, all of us need to strive each day to grow in holiness, in prayer, in acts of charity, and in the gospel way of living.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately