This year is a year of transition for the parish. There are things we do so very well – such as our Lenten, Holy Week, and Easter celebrations. I have been around 12 years now, and these really were the best ever. We have had so many people make a point of sharing how moved they were by the celebrations. One person came up to me after Holy Thursday and simply said, “Wow, wow, wow…” What makes it so moving for people? Everyone is different, but what is constant is the behind the scene work of dedicated people and their ministries: the Décor and Environment Committee, Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Altar Servers, Ushers, Choir, Faith Formation/RCIA, the Knights, the parish staff, volunteers who pass out palms, greet people and a million other things. So many people are moved by the Eucharistic Procession on Holy Thursday – behind the scene are staff who recruit TPD for traffic safety, who go to the Franklin Street businesses to let them know, who visit the hotels to make sure they know our Holy Week schedule – so many little things – all that make the big thing the amazing thing.
Would it be that everything was so planned, so known, and was done so well. As I said, it is a year of transition. Certainly, our True North Vision is a brand-new thing – a 4-5 year plan to renovate and renew the North Campus into our center of family life and ministry – even as our historic church remains the center of our worship and spiritual life. And behind the scenes are dedicated people who are working outside the limelight to begin the planning. Even as you read, we are evaluating proposals for “Phase 1” of the project: site plan, assessment of buildings (especially the convent), permitting, approvals, changing the “curb appeal” of the site, and designing the space for ministry and ministry offices. There is more detail to this first phase, but it is all good and necessary technical work. Again, lots of little things working to make the North Campus amazing.
At the same time we are working to make the parish a stewardship parish in the best sense of the meaning. We continue to expand our ministries making opportunities available for you to bring your passions and talents to serve the parish and the larger community. At the same time, more and more ministries are meeting at the North Campus taking advantage of space and parking. Stewardship also involves how we support this vision – all these good and necessary and new things.
Last October, we asked for the parish families and households to fill out a commitment card. We held up the True North Vision and asked you to make your plans so that we can plan to make the vision come alive. We believe we can organically grow into our vision without the need for a capital campaign. Is that realistic? We are gonna’ find out. Of our 2,400 parish households, 310 or so households made commitments to increased offertory giving, continuing support of the Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA) and True North. Those commitments are being fulfilled – generously so – and so, thank you.
The future and True North are the exciting part of parish life. It is rather like rewiring the house as you keep the lights on. The regular part of parish life – parish operations and APA – continue. It is in the arena of APA that we are “holding our breath.” You have probably noticed a marked decrease in our APA campaigning. That was part of our October promise and the stepping stone to fully implementing a stewardship vision in which we do what is ours to do without incessant and repeated financial campaigning.
This past week, a second round of appeal letters was sent from the diocese – but the letter is from me. The letter lacked “how are we doing” information, but here is where we are:
- Our 2019 APA assessment – $327,615 (in other words. what we are required to pay)
- APA funds raised so far – $72,000 with approximately $9,000 per month being raised through parish online giving and envelopes.
- All things being equal, we are on track to raise $153,000.
- And all things being required, we are on track to write a $174,00 check from Offertory to cover the shortfall. Not a check I want to write! But that is the risk during this transition.
If you are part of the 200 or so households that have already given – thank you. If you have not yet or never participated in APA, I need you to do so; simple as that. How? Information is in the letter and available on our parish website (sacredheartfla.org/giving) – there are even envelopes in the back of the church.
Our hope is that in 4 or 5 years, we will still have amazing liturgical celebrations, the North Campus will be a thriving family and ministry center, and a separate APA collection will be a thing of the past – even as we meet our commitments and do what is ours to do. For now, we work to rewire the house and keep all the lights on.