My Dear St. Mary’s Family,
I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to those that came last week to attend our State of the Parish. Many of you had sent notes and emails letting us know that you could not join us, and we missed your presence at our gathering on February 4th.
The purpose of this evening was to share, as transparently as possible, the attendance and financial health of our parish community, as this has been strained due to recent events. Due to its delicate nature, I preferred to share this with you in a more open setting and in person.
I have received much feedback on the evening, both positive and negative, which has guided me as your Pastor in formulating my review, thoughts and clarification to follow.
Let me first comment that our diocesan assessments have been suspended until further notice. We reached out directly to the Diocese of Buffalo in September, explaining that we anticipated an attendance and financial fallout as a result of our crisis. This was approved by the Diocese in a formal response. I do want to make this point clear; we are not holding assessments in a protest against the Diocese. The relationship between a parish and a diocese is critical to the benefit of the parish community and we are a diocesan parish and will stay as such. We do plan on revisiting payments on our assessments as soon as we are financially healthy.
The financials shared that evening indicated a decline in our attendance and giving to the parish that has translated into a deficit of $93,185 from June 2018 to December 2018. Should this trend continue; we would be looking at a significantly restructured parish/school community as early as September of 2019. I was not looking forward in having to make those difficult choices on our ministries and programs here at St. Mary’s, as I know how important they all are and they demonstrate who we are as a parish community. As your Pastor, I wanted this information to you as soon as possible.
In sharing this news, I had hoped to appeal to those of you whom I know have either reduced your giving, and or stopped giving to St. Mary’s in protest against the Diocese. I suggested that it was possible to donate to a specific line item expense. In reviewing this, I now stand corrected from an accounting perspective of this parish and I am sorry for any misrepresentation of the facts.
Clarifying now with you, that weekly contributions cannot be specifically designated to a particular expense/department. This would be extremely difficult to execute from an accounting perspective and ultimately, could create financial hardship as well with an imbalance as to where we might have money to pay the gas bill, but not a teacher’s salary. We work very hard to make the most out of every dollar you donate and support all buildings on our campus as needs arise equally. We would ask for your trust as stewards of your money here at St. Mary’s, to best balance our campus financials allowing all departments to thrive.
Just as important, was a discussion that evening, regarding how best to reach out to the many family and friends that have left our parish family. The Gospel calls us to be instruments of healing, forgiveness and peace. Without forgiveness, and a desire to live the Gospel, not just in word but in deed, it is impossible to build the Kingdom of God.
As we look forward to the wonderful season of Lent, a season devoted to redemption and healing, Jesus may just be inviting us to experience the best Lent of our lives. If we are to truly heal as individuals and as our parish family of St. Mary’s, we must open our hearts to forgive one another. The old saying is “it takes a village”. Collectively, if we can all work to bring our family back together, we are doing Christ’s work and will see the fruitful rewards of our labor.
I look forward to more conversations with you; humbly I remain your servant in Christ,
Father Bob Zilliox
We have been praying for you, eagerly anticipating you joining us for the Women’s Retreat as the promise of spring approaches. We have planned a refreshing weekend of spiritual renewal and look forward to sharing our journeys in Christ. Our goal is to make this brief time for you a spiritual experience filled with relaxation, prayer, reflection, laughter, and song; a refreshing step in your own journey with Jesus. And the food, have we mentioned the fabulous food that will be prepared for you?
Is this your year? Join us and you will meet other parish women experiencing similar demands and challenges in their busy lives. We are women in all stages of life—with young children, school-age kids and college kids; students; empty-nesters, single, married; working outside the home, retired. We pray you hear God’s call to make this time for yourself. How joyful we have been in our decisions to attend.
We look forward to gathering with you in Christ for this very special time.
The Women of CRHP Team 33
St. Mary’s announces its First Annual Meat Raffle, organized by the St. Mary School Home School Association. This popular style event will feature a variety of meats from Latina Boulevard Foods, raffled off by Mike “The Meat Man” Demmin’s team. This event takes place on Saturday, March 9th from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at the St. Mary School Gymnasium, with doors opening 6:00 pm.
The event will include multiple rounds of meat raffles, during which attendees may purchase tickets for any of the meat lots they wish to potentially win. In addition, raffles will be held at the event for a 50/50 split, chest freezer and lottery ticket assortment. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash in the form of singles to expedite raffle sales throughout the course of the evening.
Tickets include unlimited soda, draft beer and wine, with craft beer and pizza also available for purchase. Attendees may bring their own snacks. A strict no outside alcohol rule will be enforced and this is an age twenty-one and older event.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit St. Mary School, a premier preschool through eighth grade institution. Prior fundraising event proceeds have been used to purchase amenities and upgrades for the school such as water fountains, air conditioning, technology items and a scoreboard, providing an enriched experience for students.
Tickets are $7.00 each via Pre-Sale and $8.00 each purchased at the door. Tables of eight may also be purchased in advance for $50.00. For Pre-Sale reservations, contact Jen 716-392-5553 at or Judy at email@example.com. A limited number of tickets will be sold and Pre-Sale reservations are strongly encouraged.
To all of the men and my fellow brothers in Christ:
For more than 20 years, St Mary’s has hosted Christ Renews His Parish weekends/retreats here at our Parish. St. Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless O’Lord until they rest in you.” Our parish’s heart is restless until it rests in “You!” You are the Parish. Your family is the Parish, and without you we cannot stand God strong. I wish to take this opportunity to personally invite you to join us in March for this awesome inspirational weekend of welcome, renewal and faith. I especially encourage the men who are new to our parishioners to come and join us. What a Great way to meet other parishioners and share a common bond we call our Catholic Faith. One simple “Yes” can make a tremendous difference in our lives and the lives of those dear to us. I am convinced that Christ Renews His Parish is one of the reasons for our Parish’s warmth, generosity, and closeness. With your presence, Christ Renews His Parish will continue to be the spirit driven difference in your life, your families and in our Parish.
Sincerely and humbly I remain your brother in Christ,
Rev. Robert W. Zilliox, JCL
On Sunday, January 13th, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. Deacon Rick Stachura shared his thoughts below on the meaning of Baptism that day in his homily.
“Jesus was perfect in all ways and yet He decided to be baptized by John the Baptist as a witness to what we as Christians need to do to become a disciple of God.”
“Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation that starts us on our spiritual journey of developing a relationship with God, Our Father.” We are obligated to continually developing that relationship with Him throughout our life.
“By virtue of our baptism, we are given a threefold mission of being a Priest, Prophet and King. As a Priest, we are called to prayer to participate in the mass, not just attend, to also lead others to Christ and to strengthen our relationship with him. As a Prophet, we are called to proclaim the good news to our families, our communities, our workplaces and our country. As a King, we are asked to lookout for those less fortunate, to be good stewards of our natural resources and environment, and to use our time, talents and treasures for the good of the Church and community.”
“Catholic discipleship refers to a committed approach to living a Christian life within the Catholic Church.The term disciple is generally applied to those Catholics who sincerely attempt to live according to the instructions provided by Jesus in the New Testament. The U.S. Catholic bishops have described disciples as those who ‘ make a conscious, firm decision, carried out in actions, to be followers of Jesus Christ no matter the cost to themselves.”‘
So, how are you developing your relationship with God to become His disciple?
One way is to develop holiness. St. Paul told the Thessalonians,
” This is the will of God, that you be holy.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3
“One way to achieve Holiness is through ‘Holy Moments’. Matthew Kelly offers a host of examples in his book: The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. ”
Here’s a few of his examples:
- Begin each day with a short prayer of gratitude thanking God for giving you another day of life.
- Go out of your way to do something nice for your spouse or partner that you would rather not do, as an intentional act of love.
- Offer the least enjoyable task of your day to the Lord as a prayer for someone who is suffering.
- Control your temper, even if justified in losing it.
- Encourage someone, coach someone, praise someone, affirm someone.
- Be patient with the person who drives you crazy.
- Do someones else’s chores.
- Teach someone how to pray.
- Make healthy eating choices.
- Get honest with yourself about your self-destructive habits
“Baptism, is so much more than the actions of pouring water over someones head and pronouncing a few words. It initiates us into a new life in Christ. It re-establishes a right relationship with God. It makes us children of God, heirs to eternal life. It challenges us to be Priest, Prophet and King. It challenges us to live as His disciple.”
“Take some time to think about your baptism and what it really means to you. Take an inventory of your spiritual life and ask if you are committed to being a disciple of God? And if you need to make some changes, then make a commitment to work on those one at a time this year. Look for opportunities to create at least one HOLY MOMENT in each day and you will begin your journey to achieving holiness as a disciple of Christ.”
“May the graces of our Father bring us closer to Him through the Holy Moments in our lives. Amen.”