Dear Friends in Christ:
Recently, each of the parish departments was surveyed to see how things were going and shaping up for the fall. Everyone is anxious to get back and get going with the many ministries and activities in the parish. To do so, as you are aware, takes the efforts and commitment of a lot of people. St. John Vianney is a BIG parish, and nothing just happens. It takes a great deal of time, planning and hard work of many dedicated parishioners committed to building the kingdom! In the survey, we examined how many parish volunteers we had involved in parish ministries before COVID hit in January 2020, and then we looked at how many are currently signed up and available to serve and finally we calculated how many people we need to serve. The numbers were shocking.
In rough numbers, St. John Vianney parish has more than 5,000 registered households with 15,000 plus parishioners. Before COVID, we had more than 1,500 parishioner volunteers serving in many parish ministries from Liturgy to Social Services, Youth Ministry to the Samaritans. Currently, we have a little over 900! That drop is a solid 40%! While we can all be grateful to have so many, we should also be concerned that we have so many openings. The good news is we have a lot of openings! There is something waiting for you to come and Be the Difference in the life of our parish and in the lives of others. I am confident that each of us can find a place to serve the Lord and experience the joy and fulfillment of serving others. Many parishioners have not resumed attending Mass, but we hope and pray they will soon. We are going to be working, not only to bring people back to church, but more importantly, bringing people who were not at church before to join us. Our Catholic faith is something wonderful and special and we want to share our love of the Lord and our living faith with others.
These numbers of volunteers also reflect the state of our stewardship levels. The number of regular contributors today is down 32% from January 2020. The good news is that we are making progress and improvement. At the height of the pandemic the number of contributors was down by more than 52%. With our annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) appeal in support of the ministries in the archdiocese, we made our goal last year but the number of contributors was down. This year we have not yet made our goal ($440,000) and the number of contributors is the lowest during my tenure as pastor with fewer than 800 donors.
I continue to hear from many parishioners who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic – engineers, geologists, accountants, warehouse workers, analysts, managers, sales people – all trying their best to find work. For some of us, things are ok and even pretty good. Offices are open, the stock market is up, things have opened back up and life is looking pretty normal. We cannot forget that is not true for everyone. We must continue to pray for each other and seek way to assist others.
In the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament, we are told that gold is tested by fire. There can be little doubt that this is one of the fires with which all of us are being tested. This is not our first test by fire and it will likely not be our last. But it is a test of our mettle. It is a test of our faith, our hope, our love and our courage! With God as our strength, we know we can do all things in Christ and meet every challenge. Please continue to pray for each other and our parish.