Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
This past week we had another Pastoral Council meeting. I took the opportunity to update the Council on where we stand with the whole volunteer life structure project. I reiterated the history behind my desire better to organize our volunteer ministries: the fact that I found out on several occasions that various volunteers didn’t have the materials they needed efficiently to carry out their service; the fact that on many occasions I found out people were not aware of who is doing what; the fact that it was difficult for me efficiently to reach people in certain ministry areas; the fact that I was personally getting calls to handle things such as lawn maintenance and trimming bushes and other maintenance items that really could be better handled by the head of that volunteer area.
With all of that in mind, I explained that the data collected by the volunteer life committee in a survey to volunteer area heads has now been turned over to volunteer life coordinators at each campus: Cindy and Mike Knight at Antwerp, Deb Hunter at Payne, and Laura Priest at Paulding. With the feedback from various service areas in hand, the volunteer life coordinators can begin to put together a volunteer ministry booklet that explains everything that’s being done now in the parish. In addition, they can use feedback to consider ways that the current structure might be tweaked to become more efficient and effective. The goal is eventually to have a volunteer life booklet can be used to encourage more volunteer service. This will probably include some type of volunteer life fair/display after each Mass sometime in the future.
I also described how we want to focus more on stewardship in the coming year. Stewardship is the way we can describe the life of a disciple: A steward is somebody who cares for something on somebody else’s behalf. (Remember the steward in the Gospels who has to care for all of his master’s possessions…) A disciple of Jesus Christ stewards every aspect of his/her life for the sake of God. For many decades now, the church has spoken of stewardship in terms of time, talent and treasure.
Time refers to the time we give to our relationship with God in Jesus Christ. This primarily means Holy Mass. That is the first thing to be part of everybody’s life. But then there is time given to prayer every day in a very intentional way. Then, there should be in every Catholic life some ongoing study and spiritual growth by means of a retreat, a video series on FORMED, attendance at a parish mission or a Catholic conference, participation in a small faith formation group, etc. The church can no longer afford to have Catholics whose knowledge of the Faith goes no further than eighth grade Confirmation class. How can such Catholics make mature decisions in Christ, with everything that challenges them in a modern world which is increasingly contrary to Jesus Christ?
Talent refers to the opportunities for service in the parish. It’s healthy for every Catholic family somehow to serve the life of the parish; and it is simply needful in our parish! We don’t have the finances to hire out everything practical that has to happen to keep a parish running. So, people discern where they can help out in the life of the parish. There’s a huge range of opportunity for service/ministry: from being a PSR teacher or YDisciple group leader to mowing lawns and cleaning the church. All of it is great service, when done with genuine charity, a servant’s heart for God and our fellow parishioners.
Treasure refers to the direct financial support we give the parish. Hopefully, everybody gives in at least a small way. This is something each parish family works out in prayer with God, and communication with one another. Our parish simply can’t survive without financial support of parishioners. I guarantee you no money comes from the top down, i.e., from the Vatican or the Diocese down into our parish. When parishes close, it is usually because they cannot even financially sustain themselves. They can no longer cover the cost of a minimal parish staff. They can no longer cover the maintenance required for their buildings. They can no longer sustain their part of the Diocesan Assessment, that “tax” for each parish which begins to cover all the ways the Diocesan Pastoral Center serves each parish. Everyone in the parish council agreed that our parish is pretty generous right now. We’ve done a lot of trimming, and we have become much more efficient, such that we’ve reduced our expenses to fit the current giving of our people. So, the budget of income and expenses matches. This includes the way our parishioners have also given above-and-beyond for the various maintenance projects over the past few years. Catholics typically give more directly to specific projects than they do to a system of tithing. Still, giving a set amount from one’s salary is a great way to help the parish cover expenses consistently. We agreed that there’s no need to push any harder on the “treasure” aspect of stewardship right now. Things are pretty streamlined, and people have been pretty generous as projects come up.
Finally, we looked at the current list of service/ministry opportunities in the parish. This led to a conversation about the “Festorama” which used to be held in Payne… also about the bazaar in Paulding and the craft show at Antwerp. It was asked if anybody would want to revive the “Festorama”. I explained that I believe the wine tasting event – which has been really successful – was practically the response to people feeling the need for some Payne-centered social event. I also talked about how pleased I am that all three of these parish events – centered at the different campuses – still seem to be more and more participated in by all three campuses. I’ve seen very impressive collaboration among the three campuses for each of these parish events.
So, there is the summary of our last pastoral council meeting. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,