Doing what is ours to do

I remember the first time I had to speak to the parish, as pastor, and make a “pitch” for money. It was the 2012 Annual Pastoral Appeal. I think I remarked something akin to: “When I realized I had to make an appeal for money, I knew I had a choice. I could poke my eye out with a flaming stick, or I could make the pitch. It’s not a clear-cut choice.” I really do not like to talk about money or ask for it.

I didn’t like it when I was a kid. “Dad, can I have $1 to go to the movies?” The Saturday matinee at the Vogue in Orlando was only a dollar. Yes, that is how old I am. As I grew older, while I got used to “the ask,” it did not mean I liked it any better. When I was in business, I have to admit I let my partner do most of the “asking” disguised as marketing and sales.

When I became a Franciscan missioner, I thought, “Alright, I am out of the business world and into the fields of the Lord….and I have to raise how much in mission funding?” Trust me, I was tempted to write the check myself and avoid the whole process of asking friends, family, and others for mission funds. But then the goal was also to draw people into the mission, to make connections, and to make another part of the world and the Church open to them. It wasn’t horrible, and I got to meet the actor Robert Duvall. But that’s another story. And now I am pastor…[insert a long, lonesome sigh at this point….] Oh well, we all have what is ours to do.

Last October, we asked folks to help “live the mission and build the future.” We did that by asking you to let us know your giving plans so that we could make plans at the parish level. More than 300 of our 2,400 families responded by letting us know their plans for giving to:

  • Offertory to support the current ministries and live the mission of the parish.
  • True North to help build our future by expanding activities, renovating facilities, and down the road, adding facilities so that the North Campus becomes the center of ministry and family activities. (We hope to grow organically and not have a capital campaign.)
  • Annual Pastor Appeal (APA) to support the diocese in their mission of compassionate care across the five Bay area counties.

The response was heart-moving. The giving plan of the 300 families was amazing and generously supported the current mission and understood the importance of building the future. I thought it would be a good time to “report” on where we are in “living and building.”

Offertory: Offertory giving is up approximately 12% ($172,000). That allows us to expand our Faith Formation efforts, add hours to the staff to make improvements across the spectrum of our ministries, increase our charitable support (e.g. Morning Star School and the poor), and absorb the unexpected but necessary. Remember when the scaffolding was erected outside and inside the church recently? The work sealed the north outside wall of the church, repaired the structure of the large window over the Resurrection stained-glass window, and repaired the water damage on the north and south transept walls (the outside south wall had already been sealed). The bill? $131,000 – in addition to the regularly scheduled upgrade/renovation we do to maintain the beauty of our historic church so that it remains the center of our faith and worship.

True North: All the funds donated to the True North campaign are restricted to activities geared toward the transformation of the North Campus into our ministry and family center. They are held in a separate diocesan savings account. There have been several large and generous donations, but the majority of funds have come from weekly and monthly contributions (via our Online Giving or parish envelopes). At the end of June, the account held $270,000. And work has begun in three areas: development of a site master plan, assessment of the Convent building to become ministry office and meeting space, and engineering/architecture plans for a new brick and wrought-iron wall for the property. Also, we have made significant upgrades to the “library” building on the North Campus to support the increased number of meetings and ministries that use the space. Next month we will report to you on more details of the on-going work.

Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA): APA is just the marketing campaign for the “diocesan parish assessment.” APA was meant to help the parishes raise monies in support of the diocesan ministries, larger scale projects of compassion, Catholic Charities, and support of diocesan seminaries. The assessment is a bill. How we “campaign” is up to the parish. We decided that support of the diocese’s mission was simply ours to do and shouldn’t have a “campaign” as though it were something apart. This year we did not take three to four Sundays and talk about APA. Many of you donate directly to the parish via Online Giving and parish envelopes. Some donate via the diocesan online giving or direct-mail appeal. In the end it all goes to support of the diocese. What is the status of APA/assessment for 2019? Our assessment is $327,615. So far, we have raised $175,000 from all contributions designated for APA. If the past is prologue to the future, between end-of-year gifts to APA and monthly contributions we should add another $50-$60,000. At the end of the year we would have to “write a check” for approximately $100,000. That check will be written out of the Offertory funds. It is what is ours to do.

That’s a big-picture summary of where we are vis-à-vis “living the mission and building the future.” 300 or so families and households let us know their plans. Another 700 or so contribute to the mission in an identifiable way (envelope, check or online). That leaves about 1,400 families that are part of the parish. Judging from the cash in the collection (About $2,000 a week), there are clearly more folks who support the parish in a way that we cannot identify.

Thank you to all who are helping us “do what is ours to do.” With our goal of organically growing the parish, avoiding capital campaigns, but being ready for the unprecedented growth coming to our parish, we each are called to do what we can. So, again, thank you for all that you do in support, in ministry, and in being a gospel people.

(Pastor’s note: Hurricanes have all kinds of unintended consequences… the bulletin company moved up the schedule and I got an hour’s notice to create my column. If there are points at which you are thinking, “What…???” I blame it fully on Dorian!)

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