Remember Father Vincent DeRosa, who served here from 2009 until 2012 as Parochial Vicar? Now he is Pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Southeast DC, and even though I had enjoyed lunch with him only a week earlier, I recently received a letter from him. In it, he explained some of the hardships he faces to respond to the needs of people in his parish. They serve their wider community by providing job fairs, a food pantry, counseling and family programming, and housing other emergency assistance, but the parish has precious few resources themselves.
All of it sounded very familiar to me, because we do keep in touch, and he often shares stories about his challenges and joys as Pastor there. However, he had written to me and a number of his other priest friends not simply to share his adventures, but to let us know how few resources he has to meet so many very great needs. It was an explicit request for help.
One of the hazards of being Pastor, rather like being dad, is that I am always aware of the first rule of economics: resources are scarce. Making sure that this parish pays all of its personnel and all of its bills means being very careful about what obligations we assume. Yes, there are some things we just cannot afford, just like in your families.
However, we are all blessed here to have more than an abundance of what we truly need. The evidence of that appears as soon as a true need emerges. Witness our recent response to the hurricane victims! We are all willing to give, but weariness and wariness set in as we are bombarded with pleas and petitions from causes and campaigns of more or less humanitarian urgency. Yet we do not want to lose the healthy habit of giving.
Our monthly Community Fund collection is always dedicated to helping the poor in our area. You know there is no shortage of poverty right around us! In order to discern how to match our giving with authentic needs, our parish has the Allocation Committee, long led by the indefatigable Ruthann Arnsberger. I shared Fr. DeRosa’s letter with the committee members, and the quickly achieved consensus was that we should do something about it.
Our next Community Fund collection, the weekend of November 11-12, will be dedicated to assist St. Francis Xavier Church in her outreach in Southeast DC. I let you know in advance so that you can plan now how you will respond to this plea for help from Father DeRosa and our brothers and sisters in the city.
In recent weeks, I have begun the work of our Capital Campaign, asking parishioners to help in an extraordinary way that is additional to all they already give and do. The response has left me agape, so willing and eager people have been to contribute. This weekend, and over the coming weeks, you will hear me ask you and everyone else to take up your portion of this remarkable response. It strikes me as somehow appropriate, even essential, that as we set about the work of gathering our resources to put our own house in shape, so to speak, we simultaneously put aside what some of our neighbors need to get by. This is one way we can make sure we remember. God bless you!