Dear Saint Stephen Parish,
Last weekend was Commitment Weekend for our parish stewardship renewal process. I spoke at all of the Masses on Sunday, to share with you my vision of stewardship, to communicate a few points about our current financial situation, and to share the news about a new “building project.”
For me, stewardship is more than giving time, talent, and treasure to a parish. It is about the fundamental relationship we are called to have with God, where we recognize the depth of God’s grace and mercy toward all of us. In turn, our response to this unimaginable gift is to give our heart, our entire life, back to God. God wants our heart! Stewardship, then, is our way of serving and sharing, giving honor and praise to God through the way that we care for others.
As we are called to consider how to offer our financial resources to God and His people, I share the following information about our current financial situation. In my first days here, I was informed that we ended last fiscal year on June 30 with $117,000 deficit. At that time, we had reserve funds to “cover” the deficit. Since the beginning of the current fiscal year, which began on July 1, our Sunday giving has been $30,000 under budget. Along with this, the enrollment in our school declined over the summer, which means that we lost $100,000 in tuition. In the last month, we have been overdrawn twice, which hasn’t happened in 10 years. We are currently holding $58,000 in bills that we’re unable to pay. I am working with the parish Finance Committee and parish department heads to develop a plan to fund our mission through this fiscal year. This will mean that we need to find ways to cut our expenses, and to find other ways of generating income. Just as it is irresponsible for a household to spend money that it doesn’t have, it is irresponsible for our household of faith to spend what it doesn’t have. I ask you to be a part of the solution by prayerfully considering the financial support you share with your parish.
Finally, I share with you the plans for another “building project.” At the top of this letter, I shared a quote from Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In this is our “building project.” Please note that we’re not currently planning on building with bricks and mortar. I am asking all parishioners to work with me in building the community of faith that is Saint Stephen Parish. As Saint Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, you are God’s building,” and Jesus Christ is our foundation. I believe that I can count on you to step up once again, to make sacrifices, not to build with bricks and mortar, but to build with your own lives, the “living stones” of the Church, so that we may truly be one faith, one family, united in God’s love. After all, this is our parish. If we want an active, healthy, faith-filled community, we have to make it happen. I promise to give my very best to help build up this parish, this community, this Body of Christ. Are you willing to do the same?
I am very hopeful and excited about our future. There are so many people in our parish that have given their hearts to God and show us how to be stewards. In these days of our parish stewardship renewal, I ask you to carefully and prayerfully consider how God has been present and active in your life. How well have you responded to God and to His call to give your heart to Him? Finally, I ask you to make a commitment to practice stewardship through participation in daily prayer and Sunday Mass, and in generously giving of the blessings God has entrusted to you.
Thank you for your generosity. As “God’s building,” may we continue to work together to make our parish a place of welcome and comfort, where people can encounter the presence of Jesus in our midst.
Your servant in Christ,
What is happening?
The Knights of Columbus are having their second Pancake feed of the season this weekend after the Sunday morning masses. Come hungry and enjoy!
Sister Clarice will be having her Fair Trade sale in the dining room. She has many new items that would make great Christmas gifts.
We will have the Archdiocese second collection for Domestic Violence.
Please join us for NFP Wine & Cheese. The event will be Friday, November 10, at 7:00 pm in the Gonderinger Parish center. There is no cost to attend. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The USCCB is observing National Vocations Awareness Week this week, November 5 – 11, 2017. Here at St. Stephen, the Parish Vocations Ministry has prepared some events that everyone is invited to attend:
Thursday, Nov. 9th 8:00 pm – Daily Mass Chapel – Holy Hour of Prayer for Vocations
Saturday, Nov. 11th 5:00 pm Mass and Sunday, Nov. 12th All Masses – Parishioners are invited to prayerfully consider writing an individual’s name whom you think is being called to the Lord’s service on the CALLED BY NAME cards found in the pews and to drop them off in the box marked CALLED BY NAME in the Gathering Space.
The Serra Club will be in the dining room selling greeting cards. The proceeds will be used to send Christmas gifts to our seminarians.
Get ready! The Trivia night sign-ups are coming very soon. Look for the flyer in the bulletin next week! Get your team ready to have some Fun at this FUNd-raiser event!
Mark your calendars for March 10, 2018. This is the night of our biggest fundraiser, Martyr Madness. The proceeds directly benefit our parish, our school, and our ministries. We need your assist for a backboard shattering slam dunk event!
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