A few weeks ago Todd Maldonado, a member of the parish Finance Committee, made a presentation at all the Masses. He had a rather serious task. He talked about the current state of the parish finances. He presented the situation well. We have had a financial issue brewing, and it reached a point where action had to be taken. We were spending beyond our means, and our contributions were not sufficient to meet even some of our basic needs. We had been living on savings, hoping that contributions would increase. They did increase a bit, but not enough. So finally, the savings to fund parish operations are gone. We can’t spend what we don’t have, or don’t have coming in.
As Pastor, I take full responsibility for spending beyond our means. In consultation with the parish staff and the other committee members, I created some new positions and hired new employees. I was hopeful that these new positions would help us achieve some goals – spiritual, formational, financial and liturgical. Unfortunately, as Todd reflected to me later, as Pastor, “I got ahead of my skis”. So I have since taken the responsibility of eliminating some of these positions – laying off some employees, cutting expenses by the staff, and generally trimming the money going out. You might have noticed some of the repercussions of the actions I had to take. You might not have noticed. I will tell you, I have noticed and while it saddens me, I have to do what is best for Holy Trinity.
Since then, I have also done some soul searching about my leadership. I will gladly admit that I haven’t focused on money and giving too much. Money, finances, generosity, stewardship does come up in the cycle of Mass readings a number of times a year. I will preach about these issues then. When we were concentrating on raising money to put modular buildings on the parish land, or raising money to construct a church building, I spent a fair amount of my time talking about money. And then, for special collections or other occasions of need, I act as mendicant or beggar. That’s an aspect of my job. But I might not have encouraged, challenged, pleaded, or insisted on generosity in a way for most all to hear.
So let me offer, for your consideration, the slides that Todd created for the Masses a few weekends ago. I’ll add some notes of my own below the slides.
- Our Sunday/Holy Day pass of the basket (your recurring electronic fund transfers are part of this category) is the parishes largest source of funds coming in. Fees are monies collected for Faith Formation, Confirmation, and other programs. And fundraising comes from our Gala, and other specific fund-raising events
- As you can see, at the end of the last three years, we’ve been in the red. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018 the short fall was paid for by the PSA rebates that we received, and our savings. Thanks to y’all, we have received rebates from the diocesan Pastoral Services Appeal. For 2019, the fiscal year just ending, our PSA rebate isn’t fully in yet. It will off-set the deficit some. But the deficit is certainly much more than the rebate will provide.
- In the past, when we were more solvent, I allowed parish ministries to operate without too much worry about their incomes – they were held accountable to not go over budget. Now the ministries are given a financial goal, not just of not going over budget, but to consider income for their events. The goal of income for our ministries isn’t to make a profit, but to break even.
In looking at our demographic, we have more or less 2,096 families registered as “active”. We can break that down to 7,033 individuals. We have another 1,961 families or so who are registered as “inactive”, meaning that they have used the parish in some way in the past, but aren’t currently enrolled in a Faith Formation class, or contributing in a traceable way. Inactive doesn’t mean that they don’t call the parish in times of need or Sacrament. They might call. And if they do, we gladly serve them. Just as we try to serve all who come to us -registered or not. That means that the on-going funding of all our Catholic action as Holy Trinity Church is supported by the 1105 families that contribute.
From the pie chart above, you can see that we have some generous families. And remembering a story Jesus told about a widow making her temple donation, some of the folks in the lower financial denominations might be exceedingly generous. But there might be room for greater generosity by some. Let’s think about this in terms of weekly giving.
- The 369 families that fall into the largest slice of the pie chart give, at most, $1.92 a week.
- The 294 families included in the 2ndlargest slice of the pie give between $1.94 and $9.59 a week.
- The 160 families that give between $500 – 999 give between $9.61 and $19.21 a week.
- The 193 families that give between $1,000 – 2,499 give between $19.23 and $48.06 a week.
- The 50 families that give between $2,500 – 4,999 give between $48.07 and $96.13 a week.
- The 39 families that give more than $5,000 give more than $96.15 a week.
Now, you might say that some of these folks might not come to Mass each week. This is certainly true. Out of the 7,033 active individuals registered in the parish, our average weekly Sunday Mass attendance in October is 1,900 people. So, maybe then, take away a percentage of visitors, “inactive” folks who decided they wanted to come to Mass, or anybody else that might happen by, our Mass count is likely around 25% active registered parishioners any given Sunday. But the expenses of operations are generally the same week after week. In the summer months, our Mass count likely drops to 1,200 folks each Sunday, but again the expenses remain the same.
So the last slide that Todd shared at Mass was an appeal for participation.
As Pastor, I would add a couple more considerations. They go along with Todd’s appeal above.
Please pray about your participation. Ponder it, chew on it, and maybe challenge yourself a bit. Be more intentional about your financial participation in your parish. Mindlessly throwing a $1 bill into the basket when it goes by isn’t doing you much good. It is a gift for the parish. I’ll thank you for it, undoubtedly, but I wonder is such an unintentional gift serving you, the parish and the mission of the Church?
I find myself mindlessly buying impulse items that cost 5 or 10 times that $1 bill. Those impulse items are soon forgotten. They really do me no good at all. Sometimes, they might even add to my waistline and do me some harm (how tempting you are peanut butter cup and chocolate bar.)
Instead, an intentional investment in your parish serves you – body, mind and spirit forever. It reflects your attitude about God and his Church. And it acts as a blessing to God and the world. So, if your attitude is angry, thoughtless, or cynical with a mindless $1, then maybe there is a deeper spiritual or emotional issue at play. Come and chat with me about that some time. I would offer some spiritual direction.
But, if after prayer you find that $1 is all you can afford, and you have a sense of peace and a joyful heart while giving, you’ll be receiving God’s blessing.
So if you’ve gotten this far in this email, God bless you! Please pray for the parish and participate as well as you can. This is God’s Church and there is a Divine investment of grace in and through our Parish of Holy Trinity. This financial situation will be changed for the good. And by such change, may we all be changed into the blessed Daughters and Sons of God we are yearning to be.
Sincerely in Christ,