Dear Friends in Christ,
This past week nearly 2400 of our 5000 families received their tax letters from the parish. These letters were sent to all registered households that contributed an average of $5 or more per week by a recordable means (envelopes, checks, electronic). I want to again thank all who financially support our parish. Without you and your generosity, we simply could not do any of the things we do here at this parish.
Money is one of the touchiest subjects when it comes to the life of the Church. People have very strong opinions when it comes to money. I have had people actually tell me that is all they ever hear when they come to church. Hmm. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that in the gospels Jesus talks more about money than he does sex or even heaven or hell. The Lord thought it was important to discuss money. The reason is that the way we treat money reflects how we treat other things in our lives. How we use money reflects what our values are and what we hold to be important. How we use our money shows in a very tangible way if our words and actions are in agreement. Just as this is true for individuals, it is also true for the parish. Our budget and financial report reflect what we see as important to our parish community. Click here to view our Annual Report.
When it comes to money and the parish, many people make lots of assumptions and unfortunately, many of these assumptions are inaccurate. Years ago, when I was Vice Chancellor, there was an occasion when I represented the archdiocese on a matter before the Houston City Council. I remember clearly the exchange with the mayor of the City of Houston and that he was misinformed as to how churches worked and the amount of money that churches had (Catholic and non-Catholic). Worse was a member of City Council who actually said that we could solve the city’s problems and the churches’ problems (Catholic and non-Catholic, Christian and non-Christian) if we just sold a couple pieces of art in the Vatican! This elected official was serious and seriously uninformed! FYI – The City of Houston has a budget of $5 Billion, Rice University has a budget of $500 Million and the Vatican has a budget of $330 Million! The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, which serves more than 1.7 million Catholics, has a budget of $100 Million and this includes our health insurance and pension programs for all of the current and retired employees in all of the 146 parishes, 7 missions and 60 schools in the archdiocese. St. John Vianney parish (5000 households/15,000 parishioners) has a budget of $6.2 Million. The largest budget among Catholic parishes in the archdiocese is $8.5 Million. The largest Protestant churches in Houston have operating budgets that range from $50-90 Million!
To help understand a little more, a document, How Do Parish Finances Work at St. John Vianney? has been prepared and is available on our website.
Money of course is not the most important thing about our life as a Catholic, but it is important. Ultimately, how we use our talents and our treasure is part of our discipleship in being a faithful follower of Jesus. Stewardship is more than just paying the bills. Christian stewardship is the recognition that everything we have (our life, our faith, our family and our possessions) is a gift from the Lord and is given to us to further God’s plan for us and through us. To be a true Christian steward and a faithful disciple is to recognize that we belong to God and that our ultimate happiness can only be found in God alone.
In Pace Christi,