Saturday, September 21, 2013


For the average person who comes up the driveway, our campus looks so solid and massive.  This is one big, well-built church!
What they wouldn’t know and wouldn’t notice is the hundreds of not-so-stationary elements that make this church as solid as it is.  No one of them is big, but all of them together are impressive and effective.
One of the inevitable and important elements of our existence as a parish church is the annual Cardinal’s Appeal.  We participate as individual members of the local church, but also as a parish community supporting our Archdiocese.  Normally by late April I let you know how we have done on our pledging and participation, but this year I have been reluctant to say.
That’s because there was a problem; several, in fact.  The initial report of our pledges came back crazy low, 59% of goal.  But it didn’t come to me until crazy late, late June, instead of early April.  The report was late and uncertain because the Cardinal’s Appeal people had inaugurated a new database system this year.  They couldn’t tell me why our numbers were low; they weren’t even confident that the reports were accurate.
Right about that time we started getting calls from folks asking about their checks and their pledges that had not been processed.  I knew something was wrong, and began to investigate.  You may remember I made announcements at Mass.    A few weeks later, we found it.
All of our pledges from the in-pew were neatly sorted and sealed in bags for delivery to the Archdiocese – and sitting in our counting room downstairs.  The volunteer had done all the prep work and assumed the staffers would deliver them to the bank; the staffers had figured the volunteer had delivered them.  And so they sat. 
When I found them, I called the Cardinal’s Appeal office with some embarrassment.  He was excited, because it meant there were Appeal pledges and donations he had not received.  I was excited, because it meant our parish was not dodging the Appeal.  He called everyone whose pledge or check and not been processed, explained what had happened, and asked permission to deposit the checks or reschedule withdrawals for the full amount.  100% of the folks said yes!
So now, we are at over 95% our goal pledged for the Appeal.  I am grateful, and the Appeal office is impressed with, everyone’s generosity and understanding.  Thank you all very much.
You will have noticed last weekend that the organ is back.  Chesapeake Organ Service brought us the console late last week, and because of the generous response of parishioners David Fricke and James Horstkamp, necessary electrical work was done.  Further fine tuning was applied this week. 
You may not be able to hear the difference from before, but I think I can.  Mainly you hear the difference of having a real instrument working properly, with craftsmanship and beauty, played by a master like Richard Fitzgerald.  Many parishes do not have a real organ; through the commitment of our forebears, we do. 
After Mass today, come up the side aisle to see the new console.  Richard will be happy to give you a “tour” of it, and point out the improvements and features. 
Musicians and technicians, Appeal volunteers and rectory staffers; all are components of a marvelous instrument that is our parish.  Bigger than our buildings, diverse and harmonic rather than massive or monolithic: our parish is one big, well-built Communion. 
Monsignor Smith

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