Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I mentioned last week, we will be spending these last three weeks of October looking at what it means for us to be Disciples of Jesus Christ. We will be looking at Discipleship through the lens of Service, Gifts and Spirit. Last week we learned about Service through the wonderful witness talks given by parishioners at each of our Masses. They shared how their ministries at the parish helped them to grow in relationship with God and those they served.
This week we will be focusing on Gifts. What are the many gifts that God has blessed us with in this life? And how are we using those gifts to build God's kingdom?
As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve one another." (1 Peter 4:10)
One area of gifts that I would like us to focus on is our financial gifts and resources. It's important to recognize that our financial resources are not just the result of our own hard work and initiative. Everything we have and all that we are comes from God.
What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?" (1 Cor. 4:7).
The intellectual, artistic and physical gifts that we have received from God and have put to good use through the grace of the Holy Spirit are what have allowed us to achieve our financial success. Those gifts were not a product of our own making. They came from God. Consequently, how are we going to use the fruit of those gifts, our financial resources, to continue to serve God and evangelize others?
Thankfully, there is no limit to the good we can do with the financial gifts that God has blessed us with. I have been amazed by the generosity and charitable good works of our St. Josaphat parishioners across all age spectrums. Our youngest parishioners in school and religious education are being taught to have a disciple's heart that looks to serve the needs of our brothers and sisters. Many of our young parishioners have volunteered their time with our Homeless Outreach, they have collected money and supplies for victims of Natural Disasters, they sponsor orphans through Nuestro Pequeno Hermanos and our school children brought in the 2nd most canned goods of any grade school in the Archdiocese! Our adult parishioners also find ways to give back to the community and support various charitable causes. We are a very blessed community and we put our gifts to good use serving others!
Surprisingly though, that's not reflected in our weekly Sunday Offertory. We are extremely generous with second collections and special appeals. Often times, our second collection outpaces our offertory for our parish in terms of in pew giving! I think that's a sign that we are very "outwardly" focused - on the needs of the "other." That's a good thing!
But charity also begins at home. Our parish has a lot of needs. I am not speaking of the ROH campaign. I mean our day-to-day operations of the parish and how we afford to operate programs that evangelize parishioners and serve the needs of the community is in critical need. For the past five years, our Sunday Offertory has maintained a downward trend. This threatens the life of the parish and all that we do here. We have no other source of income outside of the Sunday Offertory. The Archdiocese does not give us money; in fact, we owe the Archdiocese nearly $5 million in loans for special projects and past repairs.
Our parish budget, how we pay our staff and the ministries we operate, comes directly from our Sunday Offertory. If that downward trend continues, we will have no choice but to cut staff and parish office hours. I am guessing this news is catching all of you by surprise since we are such a generous parish. But that's because we are generous to a fault with everyone but ourselves.
That is why I am inviting all of us to reconsider what our weekly commitment is to our Sunday Offertory. Many of you donate online through Give Central. Thank you! By having as many parishioners as possible on Give Central, we are able to forecast what our weekly and yearly funding will be, which allows us to budget accordingly.
However, a large number of you are still giving through envelopes or through cash or checks in the offertory basket when you are here. I am extremely grateful for those donations as well! Every dollar helps!
But in order to maintain our current parish staff and the ministries we operate, I do need all of us to prayerfully consider increasing our weekly donation and, for some of us, switching from randomly dropping in a check or a few dollars into the basket to switching to Give Central where you can consistently support St. Josaphat Parish through planned weekly or monthly giving. As I said, this will help us to budget properly for the year ahead.
I know some people find it helpful to have a target amount that they should give. The Catholic Church has always suggested tithing 10% of our income. My suggestion would be to put 5% towards the parish and 5% towards other charitable causes that you want to support. This will ensure that we can continue to maintain our current staff and ministries and, hopefully, expand into new ministries in the future. As many of you know, I am very committed to the development of the faith of children, teens and young adults. There's a lot I would like to do in these areas to build up their faith and provide them with opportunities for retreats, mission trips, etc. However, all of these things require money and it's simply not in the budget for this year.
Please prayerfully consider how God is inviting you to use your financial gifts to build His Kingdom and evangelize others. But, in a particular way, how is God calling each of us to continue to build and strengthen St. Josaphat Parish? If we are generous with our gifts, there's no limit to the good we can accomplish in the lives of the people, right here, in our own community.
To sign up for our Sunday Offertory program through Give Central, please visit
. Our Parish Office staff would be happy to help you as well, just give Tim or Michelle a call at 773 327 8955.
Thank you for making a commitment to the future of St. Josaphat Parish and ensuring that we will always be, "a Church to come home to."