Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
Next weekend Bishop Thomas begins his Annual Catholic Appeal, entitled “Giving With Faith, Hope and Love”. I would like to encourage everybody to participate, even if only in a small way. Even if you send in only five dollars, that is so greatly appreciated; and it sends to the Bishop the message that our parish is alive and well, and our parishioners all understand the vital mission of the Diocese; and we appreciate all the ways that the Pastoral Center of the Diocese supports our local mission in Paulding County. I’m very proud that our parish continues to meet its goal, just as it has for many years. But I still hope that more parishioners participate than before. The Diocese even keeps track of the number of households that give, not merely whether the total goal is reached. The following is a summary of the ways our parish has concretely experienced the support of the Pastoral Center of the Diocese over this past year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Diocese sponsored a huge conference, entitled “Ensuring Human Dignity”. The purpose of the conference was to educate parish leaders in Catholic anthropology, so that they will be better equipped to face modern moral issues, such as same-sex attraction and transgenderism. What a gift to our parish! The conference was “spot-on” theologically and anthropologically. It was excellent! Our own pastoral leadership team and teachers from the school were given a very fine overview. Every parish of the Diocese was represented at the conference, as well as having representatives from some of the other dioceses in our region. Some 750 people attended. Obviously, this great effort cost some money; and it was definitely money well spent. The ACA Campaign supports such efforts of the Pastoral Center.
About two months ago, everybody saw the letter of our Bishop, which explained the restructuring of the diocesan finances into five “trusts”. The whole reorganization took some three years to accomplish. This improvement in the organization of our finances – from the perspective of the legal and financial world – will be a great benefit to each parish, given that the restructuring aims at better protection and management of all of our assets. So our parish benefits directly. I myself am now on the Board of Trustees for the Deposit and Loan Trust, which handles savings and loans for individual parishes that invest with the Diocese. This reorganization was a huge undertaking of various departments of the Pastoral Center.
In the last year I’ve processed several annulments, as I do every year. The Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese has to process the paperwork, read through all the testimonies, and come to a judgment about the validity of the marriage presented. The recommended donation for a person applying for an annulment only covers about a fourth of the total processing cost for the Diocese. And, given the financial capacity of those asking for a statement of nullity for a previous marriage, the Diocese sometimes does not even receive anything, or they don’t receive even the recommended amount. The ACA helps cover the remaining cost.
Within this past year we accomplished the total replacement of our parking lot at the Payne campus. Exercising prudent care of big financial projects, the Diocese requires that we report and ask permission for any project over $30,000. So, we put together a packet requesting permission for this project, which included three quotes from contractors, and an explanation of the needed repair. The Bishop’s legal counsel and finance department had to help review the project. So, once again our parish benefited from the direct oversight of the Pastoral Center.
We started our ALPHA evangelization program this past year. That is a program that was recommended to us by the Bishop, and researched by people in the Pastoral Center. Next year I’m pretty sure we will begin a follow-up program called “Christ Life”. This, again, is a program recommended to us from the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life. I wouldn’t have known about it, had I not heard about it from that office. It looks very promising.
This past year we formed a cemetery committee to advise on everything from policies to prices. We created our first-ever set of policies for our two cemeteries. As a major resource for our local policy considerations, we contacted the head of cemeteries for the Toledo Diocese to request a copy of the policies of the Diocesan Cemeteries. Once again, we benefited from the Pastoral Office of the Diocese.
Every year we have a turnover of catechists, youth workers and teachers within the parish. In order to ensure a safe environment for all of our youth, anybody who works with youth has to undergo a background check and some child-production training, which differs according to the level at which the individual is involved with the youth. I’m proud to say our parish is in compliance with all of this; but the process every year requires diligence on the part of our parish staff, and also on the part of the staff of the Pastoral Center office responsible for this area. Every year we benefit directly from their support and oversight.
In a couple months we will have 30-some youth confirmed at the Cathedral. Preparation for such a ceremony – whether it happens in the cathedral, or at our parish as it usually has – requires many hours of work on the part of the Liturgy Office of the Pastoral Center. Our ACA Contributions help support this office.
Each year we turn our end-of-year financial reports in to the Diocese. The Diocese needs these reports for its own financial reporting, but one advantage is that we also have another check-and-balance for ourselves. The Diocesan Finance Office can ask us directly about anything that seems out of order, and we have to respond. Furthermore, it’s the diocesan procedures and forms that we are following for our own internal review of finances each month. Once again, a very tangible, local benefit from the Finance Office of the Diocese, that perhaps we do not appreciate enough.
Of course, considering this past year, we can’t forget the blessing it was to have our summer Deacon Scott Perry with us. The Vocations Office of the Diocese arranged his time with us, and gave us guidelines for it, and received my report on Deacon Scott’s stay when it was done. Deacon Scott enjoyed his stay here very much, and we were very blessed to have him. In addition to his regular inspiration preaching at Masses, and visiting many homes with me, we benefited from his leadership for two boys’ basketball games, at the halftime of which which he gave a vocations talk. Deacon Scott also helped with the junior high/high school girls’ retreat at our Antwerp campus, and with our summer Vacation Bible School. Our ACA donations definitely support the Vocations Office. I expect we will continue to be asked to host seminarians at our parish, since our parish has such a good record doing this.
Along these lines, in the very near future, I will be starting a vocation’s discernment group. This, again, is promoted out of the Vocations Office. The goal is to have one discernment group, at least, per deanery. It’s time to start one in our deanery, and I will be leading it. We will meet once per month on a Sunday afternoon, beginning in March. The Diocesan Vocations Office is providing the book with which we will start. Again, ACA dollars at work!
If I were to go through the past year’s calendar week-by-week, I’m sure I would find much more evidence of concrete support from the Pastoral Center, which is supported by the Bishop’s ACA campaign. The whole point of these examples is to inspire you to consider a generous gift to the Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal for 2018, entitled “Giving With Faith, Hope and Love”. Please consider even a small gift. No gift is too small. We want to send to the Diocese a message that all of us in the parish understand and appreciate how the support of the Diocesan Pastoral Center is integral to our own local mission for Jesus. Thanks for your consideration and generosity!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,