Pastoral Council Minutes – February 2017

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St. Stephen the Martyr

Pastoral Council


February 28, 2017


The regularly scheduled meeting of the Pastoral Council of Saint Stephen the Martyr  (“Council”) was held on February 28, 2017, at 7:00 PM, Central Daylight Time, in the Gonderinger Parish Center.


I.                    Call to Order

President Aaron Keller called the meeting to order.  Greg Weiss, Secretary, recorded minutes of the meeting.


II.                 Roll Call

The following members of the Council were present:

  • Father Jim Tiegs
  • Deacon Ernie Abbott
  • Katie Corrigan
  • Hope DeLuca
  • Aaron Keller
  • Michael Macholan
  • Corey Osborn
  • Deb Saraka-Rubin
  • Steve Simonsen
  • Greg Weiss
  • Kathy Wiese


III.              Opening Prayer

Steve Simonsen led the Council in a prayer to open the Meeting.


IV.               Approval of Minutes

Mr. Keller presented to the Council the minutes of the January 24, 2017 meeting of the Council, whereupon motion duly made, seconded and unanimously adopted.  The minutes were approved as presented.


V.                 Unfinished Business

  • Adoration Pro / iPad Status Update
    • Weiss reported that, thanks to Deacon Marty and his staff, the iPad has now been installed in the Adoration Chapel. Further, Adoration Pro is loaded on the iPad and is functioning.  Even though the program is simple and easy to use, Mr. Weiss indicated that a one-page “help sheet” would be placed next to the iPad to further simplify the process.
  • Tim Francis / Father Declan Updates
    • Corey Osborn indicated that Tim Francis would be speaking at St. Stephen’s, St. Gerald’s, and St. Joseph’s (in Springfield) during the week that he will be in the Archdiocese.
    • Osborn further reported that the banner to advertise the Tim Francis event at St. Stephen’s would be on the website on March 1st.
    • Weiss indicated that a number of efforts were underway to market the events both to St. Stephen’s as well as to the Omaha area. As examples, he shared that Spirit Catholic radio would be conducting an interview with Mr. Francis, and the Catholic Voice was planning on doing an article on the Tim Francis event as well.
  • Fatima Statue at SSM
    • Weiss reported that the Fatima Statue is scheduled to be at St. Stephen’s on Sunday, May 28th. The custodian of the statue will arrive Saturday evening in his RV and have the Fatima Statue ready to go for 7:30 am Mass on Sunday.  The Fatima Statue will be leaving St. Stephen’s after the Sunday evening Mass.
    • Weiss indicated that the Adoration Committee has been working with Deacon Ernie and Karen Hardy to finalize the logistics of the visit. It is anticipated that a special event will be held Sunday afternoon.
    • The Council discussed ideas to promote the event.
    • Father Jim noted that there is a 2 pm Mass on Saturday, May 27th.


VI.               Pastor’s Report

  • Father Jim expressed that he was pleased with the energy and fire he has seen for the events that are scheduled in the coming months as well as the efforts for Eucharistic Adoration and Exposition. Father Jim believes this energy will help facilitate the transition to the new Pastor.
  • Father Jim thanked the Council for their continued efforts and energy.
  • Father Jim reported that he will be traveling to Poland in May.
  • Father Jim informed the Council that Father Dave Belt will be the new Pastor for St. Stephen the Martyr and reminded the Council that he was an Associate Pastor at St. Stephen’s previously.
  • Father Jim expressed his confidence in Father Dave Belt explaining that he believes him to be well equipped for St. Stephen’s due to his past experience with large Parishes that have school programs.
  • Father Jim discussed his transition to retirement and his new accommodations at the Priest Retirement home. Father Jim asked the Council to keep him in our prayers.
  • Regarding financial matters for St. Stephen’s, Father Jim reported that of our final two loans, one is paid off, and the other has less than one million dollars left. It is anticipated that this remaining loan will be paid off in 2-3 years.
  • Father Jim also indicated that the money that was being used to payoff the loan that is now paid off is likely to be used to accelerate the payoff of the final remaining loan.
  • Father Jim indicated that the Council should start to consider what we do next once this remaining loan is paid off.
  • Father Jim wanted to express his gratitude to our funeral luncheon volunteers as they have been called on quite a bit thus far this year.
  • In response to a question raised by the Council regarding some of the aged items within the facilities, Father Jim indicated that reserve money is set aside for emergency expenses. Further, it was indicated that considerations are given to replacements as well as upgrades and improvements for the campus during planning.
  • When asked about the status of our Associate Pastors during this transition, Father Jim indicated that, based on current information, both of them will be at St. Stephen’s for another year.
  • Regarding the transition, Father Jim reviewed the processes he followed when coming to St. Stephen’s and suggested that Father Dave Belt may do the same.


VII.       Stewardship & Development Report

Deacon Ernie provided the Stewardship and Development Report to the Council.  He reported on the following:

  • Update on Stewardship Renewal – “Serving Christ in Serving You”
    • Deacon Ernie presented data to the Council for this topic utilizing an informative PowerPoint presentation.
    • Breakdown of the data to see what it tells us as compared to last year.
      • Analysis indicates that we received 35% of the pledges from the 2015/2016 renewal.
      • Applying the same ratio, we can expect to receive $139,561.88 from 2016/2017 pledges if nothing is done.
      • Finance council has approved implementing a quarterly reminder letter test on pledge progress to individual households. We will test the effectiveness of a mailing vs. email.
    • Deacon Ernie indicated that he is going to use the Our Sunday Visitor tool to follow-up on stewardship pledges as well as email follow-ups. A comparison of the effectiveness of the two methods will be employed to determine what will be used in the coming years for this purpose.
    • Deacon Ernie pointed out that the group aged 30-59 years is a target group to engage further.
    • Father Jim noted that this group includes many parents who may have children that attend St. Stephen’s. Further, it was shared that there is a common misconception that tuition is stewardship when, in fact, it is not.
    • Deacon Ernie pointed out that, at current tuition rates, tuition only funds roughly 50% of the cost to educate a student at St. Stephen’s while the remaining amount is, therefore, funded by St. Stephen’s. The Council recognized that this was a tremendous value that was being provided by St. Stephen’s to our families that have children attending St. Stephen’s school.
    • A robust discussion regarding how this value could be communicated took place. A conclusion of this conversation indicated that transparency is the approach that will be employed for this ongoing effort.


  • Archbishop’s Annual Appeal
    • 526 Family Commitments (511 last year at the end of Campaign)
    • 7% of goal (101.2% last year at the end of Campaign)
    • $157,895.00 so far ($151,319 last year at the end of Campaign)


  • Trivia Night
    • Added 2 more tables and increased attendance and revenue to $5,399.11
    • Very positive reviews
    • Over half the participants did not belong to the parish


  • Disciple Maker Index – Online Survey
    • Catholic Leadership Institute will be the facilitator, Deacon Ernie Parish contact
    • Open Feb 6th through March 21st
    • Three ways to take the survey
      • Link mailed to parishioners week of 2/6-2/10
      • Website link
      • Paper Survey
    • Results available May to Aug 2017 – response rate at 7% so far.
    • Issue at the source with emails bouncing back. Sending links to parishioners as needed.


  • Planned Giving Society Launch
    • 55 Accepted RSVP’s
    • 51 attended
    • 38 initial inductees into the Inner Circle of Stephen Circle
    • Seeking their permission to publish their names


  • Parish Census Update – No Change
    • Still calling those outside of our boundaries and cleaning up the database as we go. – Stalled


  • Other Efforts in the works
    • February Archdiocese Stewardship & Development Network Series was here 2/21
      • 60 participants
      • 2 vendors and a Speaker
      • Workshop was well received and we were well perceived by those in attendance
    • Easter appeal mailing in the final stages before printing and mailing
    • Martyr Madness 3/18 at Tiburon
    • Omaha Gives event 5/24
    • Tim Frances talks on Eucharistic Miracles 4/22-4/24
    • Declan Gibson Eucharistic Adoration Mission – 4/30-5/2
    • Fatima statue visit 5/28-5/29
    • In the planning stages for the Rummage Sale – 7/13-15
    • Soon to begin planning for Parish Festival – August 25-26
    • Planning has begun for Christ Renews His Parish in Spring 2018


VIII.         New Business

A.                  Reflective Stations

  • Deb Saraka-Rubin reported that 4 stations for the reflective stations on April 7th have been filled, and she is seeking others for the remaining stations.
  • Saraka-Rubin indicated that she would be communicating the reflective stations via the bulletin as well as Bits & Pieces.


B.                  Christ Renews His Parish

  • Katie Corrigan presented this program to the Council.
  • Corrigan conveyed her positive experience with this program while in Kansas City as well as the effects it’s had on the Parish and it’s Parishioners
  • Corrigan shared comments that the Pastor in Kansas City had regarding the positive impact of this program. Similar comments from Kansas City Parishioners regarding why this is a good program were shared as well.
  • Corrigan reported that Dynamic Catholic is now asking St. Stephen’s to be one of thirty pilot Parishes across the nation for this program.
  • The kickoff for this program will be a spring retreat in 2018.
  • As a result, Mrs. Corrigan indicated that they would be looking for 15 men and 15 women to go through training for this initial retreat.
  • In further describing the program, Mrs. Corrigan explained that it is similar to CEC, but it is just for the Parish and the retreat will be held at the Parish.
  • Corrigan will be leading this program for St. Stephen’s.
  • Keller shared that a friend of his who is a Religious Education Director said that this program (Christ Renews His Parish) and the Alpha program compliment each other really well.
  • Osborn shared that he experienced the Alpha program at St. Charles Borromeo, and it was powerful.
  • Father Jim encouraged the efforts for the Christ Renews His Parish program, but encouraged the group to keep the calendar in mind.


C.                  Martyr Madness- Pastoral Council Contributions

  • Kathy Wiese reminded the Council that she purchased a popcorn machine that she plans to fill with things that would be great for families (popcorn, movie candy, family movies, spiritual bouquets, etc.).
  • Wiese asked that the Council provide any items that they would like included to her.
  • After a discussion led by Mr. Keller, it was determined that there would not be a specific table at Martyr Madness for the Council.


D.                  Unifying SSM

  • The Council continued the conversation that was initiated by a video that Mrs. Wiese shared with the Council during the January meeting.
  • The Council agreed that many of the programs and events that had been discussed throughout the current Council meeting were responsive to this call.
  • Wiese asked the Council to consider how we can better minister to families that are suffering.
    • Keller suggested that a program called Unbound could be a possible answer to this need.
    • Father Jim added that privacy and permission issues need to be addressed and considered as any program in this regard is evaluated and implemented.


IX.               For the Good of the Council

  • Keller reminded the Council that the first fish fry would be on Friday, March 3rd.
  • Keller reiterated Father Jim’s remarks earlier that Father Dave Belt will be the new Pastor for St. Stephen’s after Father Jim’s retirement.


X.                 Topics for Future Discussion

  • Keller reminded the Council that the election of the next Council President would take place at the March meeting and that members should consider a nomination.
  • Keller also implored members to start recruiting individuals that would like to be considered for the three Council openings in June as Mrs. Wiese, Mr. Macholan, and Mr. Simonsen will have fulfilled their terms for the Council.
  • The names of new individuals that may be interested should be sent to Judy Kirst, so that she can start the process of gathering bio information.
  • Keller indicated that the Vice President and Secretary would be elected at the May meeting of the Council.
  • Osborn presented the Council with a series of flash cards that are designed to help individuals defend their Catholic faith. Mr. Osborn explained that millennials, in particular, are a group of folks where we, as a Church, are losing significant numbers of them during the time between their Baptism to their adulthood.
  • A discussion ensued regarding how we can better equip children with information to arm them when they are confronted about their faith.


XI.               Closing

Being no other business, Father Jim led the Council in a closing prayer.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 pm.

Author: tmarble