Greetings and peace from St. Gabriel Catholic Church.
Positioning our parish for the future:
3 areas of focus
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Building on my recent video message, I am grateful to share more with you about how we are positioning our parish for the future – including the ways you will be supported by the reallocation of $350k in our budget for parish needs.  If you missed my video message, I ask you to  view or read it hereYou are at the heart of what we are doing.  

This past Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. That incredible event guides us as we look to the future. Let us recall that Jesus had ascended into heaven, giving the apostles – and each one of us – our mission and a promise: 

Go, therefore, and make
disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that
I have commanded you. 
And behold, I am with you always,
until the end of the age. 
Matthew 28: 18-20

The apostles prayed and waited with Mary, the Mother of God, for direction – unsure of how to act on their mission. The answer came on Pentecost when God sent his Holy Spirit - filling, energizing and enabling the apostles to proclaim the mighty acts of God. (Acts 2:1-11)  Scripture describes the joy and sincerity with which they praised God and shared the Good News of Jesus, fueled by their personal relationship with him. 

This incredible experience of Pentecost provides focus for our parish as we look ahead. Jesus has given us this same mission and promise. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and our personal relationship with Jesus, we can carry out this mission and worship God with great joy. 

To support our parish in this, below I share with you three areas of focus as we look ahead, including related staff changes.  The reallocation of $350k in budget funds enables us to accomplish these goals, all focused on supporting you. 

We will:
  • Devote additional staff to our Sunday worship experience.
  • Provide more opportunities for all ages to grow in relationship with Jesus.
  • Appropriately adjust the compensation of our full-time staff.

The pinnacle of our parish week is Sunday Mass.  It supports the most important work we do as a community of faith: the worship of God – an authentic worship like that of the apostles on that first Pentecost, fueled by our love of Jesus. From the Sacraments, to the liturgy, to message, music, and hospitality, many elements impact our worship experience.

As we position our parish for the future, many of our staff members will place a greater focus on Sunday Mass through their roles.

We are also significantly expanding the role of Music Director, appropriate for a parish of our size.  This position will become “Director of Worship”.  Along with an associate (assistant), their focus will be on worship, music, and liturgy.  This includes providing training, coordination, and support for our 300+ parishioners who serve in these areas – our largest group of volunteers. A portion of our reallocated budget funds will allow us to accomplish this.

The link at the end of this message provides specific parish staff changes in this area.

St. John Paul II recognized that many of us – even lifelong Catholics – have not had a personal experience with Jesus.  It eludes us, and we aren’t prepared or on fire with the Good News in the way Jesus’ followers were on that first Pentecost. 

On a personal note, I grew up a cradle Catholic and believed, thanks to my parents‘ efforts. It was not until my late 20s, though, that I developed a desire to know Jesus better. In my 10 years of priesthood, I’ve seen this same desire for a personal relationship with Jesus from countless people of all ages -- from teens and college students, to young adults and seniors. There is still a need for me to deepen my relationship with Jesus, and I look forward to doing just that alongside all of you!

St. John Paul II used a term for this that may feel foreign – one that I ask you to explore and grow excited about: “the New Evangelization”.  It is an invitation to renew or develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.   

To support you in this, we look forward to adding new and creative ways to help you discern where you are on your journey of faith and to provide opportunities to meet, know, love, and follow Jesus.  Expanded on-line opportunities, non-traditional approaches to catechesis/Faith Formation, small groups, retreats, and more may be part of our offerings. We will prayerfully discern this together. 

The focus of our “Religious Education” staff will expand to “Evangelization”, with its beautiful focus on our personal relationship with Jesus. We will also devote more staff time and resources to our Communication Department and Pastoral Care, to support these efforts.  A portion of our reallocated budget funds will allow us to accomplish this. 

The link at the end of this message provides specific parish staff changes in this area.

In the early 2000's, our full-time staff members took significant pay cuts in return for a flexible, reduced schedule.  Those reductions have remained in place over the years, while workloads have increased.  We benefit immensely from the work and generosity of our staff. As an employer, our parish needs to compensate them appropriately.   With the assistance of the diocese and the input of a member of the Finance Council, we are adjusting the pay and hours for our full-time staff in line with the non-profit sector and their experience and workload. This includes providing fair pay and benefits to new employees.  A portion of our reallocated budget funds will also allow us to make these changes.
With gratitude and prayer, we are building on our parish’s many strengths as we strive to be good stewards of our resources. Despite the uncertainties of the present day, these are exciting times.  We pray that you are blessed through your generosity and in an ever-deepening and personal relationship with Jesus. 

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!”  

I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks. 

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Fr. Richard