Consider this… Blessed!
Two years ago, Fr. Luke and I arrived at St. Mary’s to a parish that was struggling in many ways. Deacon Rick had been doing an outstanding job as administrator of St. Mary’s, but there were serious trust and financial struggles with the parish. Within the first few months, Fr. Luke and I had two town hall meetings, one to ‘get to know your priests’, and the other was to share the ‘state of the parish.’ The state of the parish is something I believe is important to share every year, and we do that in the month of February annually. In our first state of the parish I shared that our financial picture was bleak, we were operating in a severe deficit and that something had to be done.
This past week, a comment came across Facebook on a picture that was posted of the new sidewalk being installed in front of the chapel, and questioned where is all the money coming from for all of these capital projects that are taking place since it was shared just two years ago by me that the parish was financially strapped.
This is a fair question and I’m thankful people are interested in knowing what is going on at St. Mary’s. After the first state of the parish, we severely crunched our budget and pinched pennies. People also responded. You’ll remember I shared many times in homilies and columns what needed to be done and the support we needed for St. Mary’s to move forward. The generosity of parishioners brought our collections up to levels not seen in three years. You’ll also remember that when Fr. Luke and I arrived we were in the midst of the pandemic. It is no secret that our parish took advantage of government programs that assisted our budget through PPP and employee retention credits. These government programs paid a major portion of salaries that were paid out from our parish during the pandemic. Salaries are the largest expense in our budget and these programs drastically improved our bottom line. The combination of cutbacks, parishioner generosity and government programming created an opportunity for our parish to catch up on maintenance projects that had been let go over the last 5 years. Serious maintenance issues were plaguing our campus, and not addressing them was going to lead to further structural issues and degradation. Some of the capital projects that have been completed were also paid for out of our Upon This Rock funding that came back to St. Mary’s parish.
We have been blessed, and I promise you we are being good stewards of the resources shared with St. Mary’s. A buildings and grounds committee has done a complete evaluation of our campus and provided work that must be done, and recommendations for our future. Our finance council actively looks at these projects and bids to ensure good stewardship and timing, and our parish council continues to steer our decision making as to the priorities of our parish. I promise no decisions are being made in isolation.
I encourage you to come to our state of the parish address this year (date will be forthcoming soon, it will be in February) to learn more of what is and has happened. I ask you to continue your generosity. The government programs have ended and as I have shared in my robocalls, our collection this year is below where we need to be to meet expenses. I realize cost of living has increased, but it has increased for the parish too. We are doing all we can to meet these challenges and prepare for our future but it is impossible without all of us working together.
Thanks for all you do to make St. Mary’s great, and any questions that you have, please don’t ever hesitate to ask.
We are blessed!