Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
At all the Masses this weekend I will be asking you to reconsider the amount you’re giving every week to support the parish, and talking about the reasons I think you should do this. You will also be receiving a brochure in the mail in the next day or two to help you in this process.
It’s been 7 years since we’ve done an “Offertory Campaign” at St. Raymond’s, and a lot has changed in that time. Of course one obvious change is your pastor. My predecessor and dear friend, Fr. James “the Great” Gould, necessarily emphasized the foundation of this parish: building this amazing church and bringing together this even more amazing parish family. My emphasis is necessarily slightly different: to build on that foundation and take this parish to a deeper appreciation of what it means to live and love as members of Christ’s family.
This change in emphasis also meant a change in the allocation of funds, i.e., spending priorities and initiatives. While at one time we were focused on spending to build a church and “facilities,” now we’re more focused on using all that for the formation of our parishioners—young and old alike. And so we’re spending more, for example, on CCD, the Youth Apostolate, and Adult formation (including Respect Life and Religious Liberty efforts). And we’re also spending more money on the liturgy: we have this beautiful church and so we’ve been emphasizing improving the quality of our liturgical music, as well as other externals such as vestments and sacred vessels. And then there’s spending on maintenance and repairs of the buildings, not to mention paying down the debt with interest.
This change in emphasis also necessarily means a change in how we raise funds. Previously huge amounts were raised by appealing to the very apparent need to build a physical structure we could see and use. Raising those funds was difficult, but parishioners came through with generous donations, and we have this church, et al. But raising money for a building we obviously need, something with near-term tangible (and beautiful) results, is much different than raising money for the ongoing formation needs of the parish, not to mention other routine expenses that just sort of happen and that we don’t necessarily see the immediate or long-term results of.
Spending for this latter kind of emphasis must be both routine and ambitious, and it requires a fundraising which is also both routine—or regular and committed—and ambitious. So just as the parish is committed to continually deepening our life in and love for Christ, and to spending funds necessary for those purposes, the parishioners must also make a real commitment to regularly provide those funds, and to do so not in a minimal way, but with ambitious generosity.
But besides a change in pastor and emphasis, an even more important change has happened in the last 7 years. That is, you have changed: almost half our parishioners have joined us since 2007, almost 1/3 since I arrived 4+ years ago. Most of these “new” parishioners, many of whom are very generous, probably don’t think very often of the sacrificial gifts made by “old” parishioners to build the church et al—and the commitment they made to the parish in doing so. And, perhaps more importantly, their pastor has not made a concerted effort to explain the reasons for and importance of committed regular giving, and he has also not asked them, in a clear and confident voice, to commit to give generously to the weekly offertory.
Although I had my reasons for hesitating, now I do ask and explain the reasons you should respond. I do this not for crass “business” reasons (see my comments last week about “the moneychangers”) but for the good purpose of calling us all to use what God has given us with gratitude and for the good purposes He chooses. To continue to build on the foundations laid before us, and to grow as a true family in Christ, a parish family.
Again I ask you to prayerfully consider these words, today’s homily at Mass, and the brochure you will receive in the mail in the next few days. And I ask you to commit to supporting our parish family as we continue to grow in the love and in the life of Jesus Christ.
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Misinterpreting Pope Francis. Two weeks ago the media splashed the headline: “Pope says: ‘God is not a divine being or magician.’” If true, this would be amazing, because Catholics, of course, believe, that God is, by definition, “a divine being.” Duh. But, of course, what he actually said was, “God is not a demiurge or magician.” The word “demiurge” means a “lesser deity” (see Webster’s), and God is not that. Once again, don’t believe everything you read or hear in the media!
Our Baby Sofi. Friday November 14 was the fourth birthday of Sofi Hills. It was only 4 years ago that she was left in the parking lot of our church, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and we thank Him that she has grown into a vivacious little girl, with a loving family. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, next Sunday, Nov. 23, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles