Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Hopefully by the time you are reading this letter you will have received our Saint Bernadette Renewal Handbook, Ministry Catalog and Annual Report for 2017-18. I hope it can give a shape and structure to your knowledge about our parish. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that we aren’t only a Sunday Mass place, but are involved in so many and varied ways in serving the Lord and others. And I hope it inspires you to get involved in the life of Saint Bernadette, and in your discovery of service that you discover more about us as individuals as well as a community.
Next weekend you will have an opportunity before and after Masses to speak with representatives/coordinators of the ministries that are listed in this catalog, to discern how you plan to get involved. Read leisurely, and see if something here sounds interesting to you, a place where you could make a difference. Please be sure to hold onto your Commitment Card which came with this Catalog, and consider ways in which you plan to increase your time in prayer, in service, and how you intend to support the church financially.
The last two weeks I wrote about the real value of time as a way to grow with God, and the gifts which we have received that aren’t intended for us alone, but to be shared and advance the work of God’s Kingdom. This week I make a sincere request that you consider how you are currently supporting the parish, and how you might increase your generosity over the coming year.
This is not a pledge campaign, and we don’t check up on you throughout the year, but we are asking you to make a concrete commitment to giving. When I was a kid my dad put $20 in the basket each week, often when we didn’t really have $20 to give. It taught us kids that giving is an important part of living. Imagine what that $20 would relate to today, 50 years later. Often, people just throw whatever might be in their pockets into the basket; I’m asking you to be intentional about your gift.
Really, the point is simple. Each year, our “overhead:” utilities, cost of living, supplies, maintenance, and scheduled improvements become more costly. Also, our salaries continue to grow each year with a standard cost of living increase plus what we may consider needed to constitute a “living wage” for our parish employees. We have done a lot of restructuring with personnel and increased the experience and expertise in our staff, both in the parish and in the school. These things all cost money. And, as you may have seen in the financial section of the recently received Catalog and Annual Report, we need to spend about $1 million on adding a second preschool, and expanding badly-needed spaces in both the school and parish administrative offices.
Though it is important to apply parish savings to the mission of the Church locally, there is also needed a robust, ongoing giving base to pay for new expenses out of both the storehouses of the old and the new, savings as well as new donations from the parish.
Saint Bernadette has not been called upon for giving, other than the Bishops’ Lenten Appeal (to which you have been most generous, nearly 25% of our total of parish collections!) for many years, since some 15 years ago with the Campaign, “Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope.”Still, the diocese asks parishes to conduct an offertory development campaign each year, to help the Church stay current with rising costs and still plan for needed bills and improvements.
There is an interesting snapshot of Saint Bernadette in the Parish Financial Summary section, page 47 of the Catalog. For the past five years, the collection total has not increased or decreased more than 2%. Since 2013, our average weekly offertory increase for three of the four years was $132, $726, and $188. This year we ended $203 dollars less than the year before, in 2014 we decreased a little more, but still negligible. The parish has grown by 9-10%, but the offertory is basically flat.
At Bishop Burbidge’s request, I ask that you consider what you might do more this year. For those coming from other countries, please remember that parishes receive no subsidy from the Church or the government to cover expenses: everything depends on you. Our potential is completely dependent upon the opportunities you provide through your generosity.
God bless you.