October 15, 2015
Stewardship: Our Response as Disciples
During the month of October, we conducted the “Why Participate?” Stewardship Campaign. We focused on the need to be good and faithful stewards of the gifts entrusted to us. You had the chance to hear from various parishioners about why they chose to participate in the life of this community through the good use of their time, talent and treasure. You had the chance to review the Annual Stewardship Report, which you can also view
. Our school administration spoke about the importance of St. Thomas More Catholic School in the life of our parish community and how your sacrificial gifts support the efforts of our school to provide a Catholic education for our students. During the weekend of October 17-18 I spoke to you about our parish finances and invited you to consider how you would respond as disciples to our needs. Thank you to all those who have taken the time to consider your response to this appeal. Below you will find the full text of my address. If you have not had the chance to consider my request or if you were away from the parish the weekend I spoke, please take the time to read the information below and then prayerfully consider how you are being called to embrace Stewardship in a fuller way.
In this month of November, let us be thankful for all we have been given and choose to return those gifts to the Lord through our faithful stewardship.
Address to the parish Oct. 17-18:
Two weeks ago you were able to hear from parishioners about why they choose to participate in the life of this parish community in various ways. These witness talks spoke to the concept of good and faithful stewardship: how we use our time, talent and treasure for the good of others and our community. We have been blessed with much, and so we give back to God. Stewardship is a disciple’s response. We recognize God as the origin of life, the giver of freedom, the source of all we have and are and will be. And so we must take care of what we have, cultivate our gifts out of love for God and each other. Last week you received the annual Stewardship Report, which chronicles our response to this call.
I am grateful for the many ways that people live out this call to faithful discipleship each day. I see so much good going on here—such as our outreach to the poor and the hungry, those who work in the San Isidro Graden, our faith development programs, our parish school, those who care for our church, those who care for the bereaved, and our Respect Life Ministry. There is a lot that goes on here. Yet we can never be complacent. We must always be striving to do more, striving to move beyond ourselves for the good of the other.
Today I want to take some time to speak to you particularly about the stewardship of treasure. It is incumbent on me as pastor and chief steward of this parish community to make sure we have the necessary resources to support our ministries, operations and facilities. Lately we have been experiencing trouble in both our offertory and mortgage collections.
First there are some statistics that I want to share with you:
As you can see, we are a large parish and one that has grown. We welcome new members every week and say goodbye to old friends.
- We have almost 4,000 families and 13,000 registered parishioners, up from 3,500 and 11,500 four years ago
- About 13% of our parish population is involved in ministry.There is a lot of room here for greater involvement. Imagine what we could do if 20% or 25% were involved.
- 40% of our families have been in the parish for 4 years or less
- Only 1 in 3 families have been in the parish for 10 or more years
Next I would like to speak about our parish offertory: the means of how we support the basic costs of parish life-just like your household expenses. This is a big family and so it takes a lot to keep the lights on and parish humming day to day.
We have a need to raise our parish offertory in order to keep up with the household expenses on our parish.
- At the end of the last fiscal year we wound up about $38K short. We pulled this out of our savings but we cannot continue to do this.
- 66% (that is almost 2 in 3 families) make no financial contributions to the parish
- 1 in 7 families give less than $10/week.
- 1 in 5 families give $10/week or more
- 1 in 10 families give $20/week or more
- 1 in 27 families give $50/week or more
- Think about how much money you may spend every month on lattes at Starbucks or your favorite restaurant. What would the equivalent of that look like? How does that compare to your sacrificial giving?
Next some information on our Mortgage.
In 2010 we completed a project that built the parish center, the Friends and Family Hall, the courtyard and columbarium, the ball fields, the art and music building and the gymnasium. As of now we have a balance on the mortgage is $2.3M with 10 years left. There has been a steady decline in contributions to the mortgage in the past four years (from $331k in 2012 to $272k in 2015); 40% of our families arrived after the Building Project was completed and may not have the history of the lack of facilities that we used to face. All of us need to share in the cost of our facilities. At the end of the last fiscal year we came up about $50K short on our obligation and we had to pull them from our mortgage reserve leaving only about $100K. You can do the math and see that this will run out in 2 years if things continue to trend the same way and we will be unable to meet our obligation to the diocese.
Recognizing our financial situation we continue to be diligent in trying to reduce our costs. The staff and parish leadership are mindful of the need to be good and faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us.
- Only 1 in 8 families contribute to the monthly $27k mortgage payment
- 1 in 16 families give $20/month or more
In closing it is never easy to talk about money, but it is part of my responsibility as pastor. I love this place. My priesthood has been connected with this parish in so many ways. It literally began here-as I knelt on the floor in the main aisle in front of the stairs. This was my first assignment for a year after I was ordained. When I was at Cardinal Gibbons High School I assisted here on Sundays. And for five years I have been your pastor. I am graced beyond measure to be your shepherd, to walk among you, with you, as we journey together to the kingdom. This parish affirms my faith as a priest as I see how we hold one another up, how we care for the poor, how well we pray communally, how we proclaim and profess our faith. This past month we celebrate Confirmation. 109 of our young people were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. There was such pride and joy in their faces and on mine as this sacrament was bestowed upon them. These are the moments that really stand out for me as I think about St. Thomas More. Monday was one of those nights when we were at our best with beautiful music, students well formed in the faith, Knights of Columbus serving as hospitality ministers, parents making corsages for our youth, parishioners arranging the reception afterward. We can only do these things and do them well if we have the necessary resources to continue to live our mission to pray, serve and spread the gospel with joy to its fullest potential.
- This involves being mindful of HVAC use and lighting.Our various staff members have been asked to keep departmental costs to a minimum.We have delayed as many capital improvement projects as possible.We have not funded our capital reserves to the level that we need to which may create problems for us in the future should we be hit with a major, unexpected capital replacement.
- One area that is a significant expense for us is the staff. I am privileged to work daily with so many talented people who ensure that St. Thomas More is able to carry out all of our wonderful programming.However, we may be forced to make staff considerations if we cannot improve our financial situation and outlook. This might mean eliminating or reducing positions, with the consequent impact on livelihoods. I have shared this with them last week. It was a very difficult thing to talk about. Yet, it would be irresponsible of me as Pastor to allow us to continue operating at this level of staffing when our income is unable to support the parish operations.We recognize that staff costs are a significant part of their ministry and we know that their hard work and the programs they enable is a vital part of who we are as a parish. For this reason, it is my sincere hope that staffing will not be affected, nevertheless it is something that I need you to be aware of.
- So what am I asking of you? Imagine what we could do if our offertory increased significantly. We could expand our outreach and our formation programs. We could take our evangelization efforts to the next level. We could look around and see what needs are not being met among our parishioners and local members of our community and have the resources to meet those needs. We could offer more tuition assistance to families in need who desire a Catholic education for their child. We do so much here and we do it well. I hope you value this place, this parish, all that is offered here and the wonderful facilities we have.
- I am going to challenge you to go to the next level.I am asking that each and every parish family change their level of giving for the good of the parish.This will involve careful reflection of what I have said, prayer and discussion.What level of stewardship is God calling you to?It is not about equal giving. It is about equal sacrifice.
- If you do not currently financially support the parish, please start doing that. It is your responsibility as part of your discipleship.
- If you only give occasionally, think about a more structured, regular gift.
- If you are a regular contributor, think about when you last increased that gift.
- If you give to the offertory and not the mortgage or vice versa, please give to both. We have to support both regular operating and mortgage.
- I invite you to consider the idea of sacrificial giving.We sacrifice for the good of the other. Parents sacrifice for their children. Spouses for one another. So too we are called upon to consider sacrificial giving for the good of our parish community.
- Consider enrolling in automated giving. This ensures there are regular contributions coming into the parish all year long. It is easy for you to do so. Right now 1 in 5 parishioners uses automated giving for contributions to offertory, or mortgage, or Priest Welfare and Retirement, or Charity Share, or the endowment for the school. Almost half of our offertory and mortgage contributions come from automated giving.There is an insert in the bulletin explaining how the user friendly website works. You can also scan QR code on the collection box or bulletin rack and go right to the website.There is one in the bulletin too.
- If you cannot financially support that parish right now due to you financial situation I would ask that you pray for us and the success of what we are doing and that you find ways to live out the other principles of stewardship.
- On the bulletin today there is a card about why and how you can get involved in parish life.
- If you are not currently registered as a parishioner, today would be a good day to do so. You can stop by the welcome desk on the way out to take care of that.
I care about our parish and about our future. I ask for your help. I ask that you evaluate your response to the call to be a good and faithful steward of God’s many gifts to us.