Dear Friends in Christ:
God is so good! What a privilege, honor, blessing and gift it was for us to have Fr. Patrice bring to us the wonderful relic of the heart of St. John Vianney. More impressive than even the relic itself, was the beautiful faith of so many people as they came to pray. This was an experience that I will never forget and I know that through the intercession of St. John Vianney, that many of you will never forget it either.
I was amazed at the stamina of Fr. Patrice. From Friday when he arrived until his departure on Tuesday morning he never stopped. We had several conversations and what a joy it was to have him and Alain with us. In our conversations he was so impressed with our parish. He was amazed at the liturgies, the participation, our beautiful ministries and the spirituality of so many. He was specifically impressed by the members of the ACTS community and said it would be wonderful to bring it by to France! I am so grateful to Carolyn Greene who was instrumental in making all of the arrangements, to Stephane and Alexis Rollier and our community of French parishioners who hosted a special luncheon for our guests, to our parish staff who helped with the liturgies, reception and logistics, to Karen Carr and John Le who assisted with transportation and to so many of you who went out of your way to make this event so wonderful.
During the weekend masses, we had a second collection and we will be forwarding almost $30,000 to the shrine as an expression of our gratitude for this wonderful blessing. Thank you for your generosity. During the collection, I made mention that for those who did not have cash or their checkbooks with them that they could make a donation by simply using their cell phones. They could text a donation by dialing 281.884.3212 or they could go to our website and make an electronic donation. Several people stopped me saying that they did not know that could be done. Well, it can and it is safe, fast and easy. More and more people are choosing to make their weekly donations electronically. This can be done as an automatic bank transfer from your automatic bill paying feature on your checking or savings account or through the WeShare program on our parish website. For more information on how to set up or use electronic/automatic giving just contact our Parish Finance Office or go to our website.
As we all know too well in this part of town, the effects of Hurricane Harvey and the floods are still very much with us. Just as so many have yet to recover, the parish remains in recovery mode. We estimated that we lost 20% of our parishioners who had to relocate because of the floods. A few have returned but that figure seems to be holding. We had lost students in our Youth Formation program and attendance has been down at masses and in our other activities as well as finances. The devastation of the floods caused a major disruption of our programs and ministries for the year. Our Social Services Ministries continues to help people every day. The parish has continued to reach out to help parishioners, neighbors and friends rebuild and get back on their feet. As you are aware, because of the financial losses and damages, we had to cut back on our programs, reduce our budget and cut back on staff. For the last several months, we have been working and studying how to best move forward. We have been re-evaluating our Youth Formation and looking into our Pastoral Care and Spiritual Life Departments to see how we can improve them and better serve our parishioners. As a result, there will be some changes to our Youth Ministry program next year that I think many families and our youth will find exciting. Stay tuned! From our study and conversations, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, discoveries was the need for greater parental involvement. In those areas where we had a good number of parents who were active and involved, things worked much better with great results and we had better attendance and participation. Where there were only a few or no parents active and involved, the activities struggled or failed. This was most evident in our Jr. High and High School Programs. Just as it is necessary to have parental involvement with band, sports, drama, dance, academics and all other activities for our youth, church is no different. Active, involved and committed parents in a program produces active, engaged and committed youth.
Our goal is that every young person knows and is known by at least five adult parishioners other than their family members. How many youth do you know? How many youth know you? Faith is contagious! Share your faith with someone every day!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately