Saturday, October 22, 2016

Holy Ghost in the Machine

You know I like to have something for you to read when you leave Mass each week, and I try to mix it up a bit.  Sometimes it’s a reflection, or something I have noticed, a quote or passage from an ancient author or a pope I think you might appreciate, or even something I saw on my day off.  Sometimes I try to do the work you might expect in a homily – on those weekends when I can’t give you a homily.  And sometimes it’s just a funny story.
But this week, I want to direct your attention to something else, not what I write here.  And you won’t find it in the bulletin, either.  Please make it a point to pick up a copy of our parish Annual Report, a printout of all sorts of data that let you know what is going on in the workings of the parish.
You’ll find the report printed on yellow paper, and stacked on the tables near the doors of the church.  It was just too much to print on a bulletin insert this year!  The basic format is prescribed by the Archdiocese, and it may take you some exploration to discern what it has to offer you.  We try to help by adding some snazzy graphics and additional charts.
The cover letter is from our parish Finance Council, who are intimately familiar with all the details presented there, and more.  They are a huge help to me in managing the material aspects of this great parish.  Their time, expertise, and attention are a great service and indispensable to our parish.
Mostly the news is good.  The parish is completely and totally debt free, having first cleared the mortgage on the “connector” project for the school, and  then paid off the line of credit we used to replace the heating and air conditioning there.  We even settled up with the Archdiocese after they meticulously reconciled the last decade’s payroll and found benefits and pensions that had been overlooked or underfunded.  We pay our bills and our employees and can cover, if only barely, basic repairs and improvements. 
The rough news is that membership and participation at Mass is down.  The flip side of that is that offertory participation by you who choose to belong, who faithfully participate, is strengthening.  After our Take the Next Step campaign last June, many of you responded by increasing your commitment to the parish.  We are still trying to find a way to present in a report the quantity and quality of that response and that commitment, which is tricky to do, not least because folks continue to respond even now.  For now let me just tell you I am amazed and grateful.
Your commitment to our parish, which is our identity in Christ; and to the worship that we give Him, of which giving is a key element; is an inspiration and encouragement to me.  The numbers and graphs are a window onto the scene that is our very own local antechamber of Heaven.  They tell an important part of the story of which every one of us is a part. 
Please do take one of these reports and reflect on it.  Nothing about this parish is magic, but everything about it is graced by God.  With that grace, we are more than the sum of our parts.  The hand of God is visible even in the (fiscal) bottom line.  Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Monsignor Smith

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