Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pastor’s Notes August 30, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

So you want a day off!! Let’s take a look at what you are asking for.  There are 365 days per year available for work. There are 52 weeks per year in which you already have 2 days off per week, leaving 261 days available for work.   Since you spend 16 hours each day away from work, you have used up 170 days, leaving only 91 days available. You spend 30 minutes each day on coffee break which counts for 23 days each year, leaving only 68 days available. With a 1 hour lunch each day, you used up another 46 days, leaving only 22 days available for work. You normally spend 2 days per year on sick leave. This leaves you only 20 days per year available for work. We are off 5 holidays per year, so your available working time is down to 15 days. We generously give 14 days vacation per year which leaves only I day available for work and I’ll be darned if you are going to take that day off!!?”

Well, our nation is taking a day off. It is that time of the year when we celebrate with a rest from our labors. The harvest is nearly completed. So we as a nation take a day off with our
Labor Day holiday.

Normally there are inspirational posters hanging in work places. Here are a few that caught my eye. If you can stay calm, while all around you is chaos…then you probably do not understand the seriousness of the situation. Doing a job RIGHT the first time gets the job done. Doing the job WRONG 14 times gives you job security. Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines. Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural
Stupidity. A person who smiles in the face of adversity…probably has a scapegoat. Plagiarism saves time. If at first you don~t succeed, try management. Never put off until
tomorrow what you can avoid altogether. Teamwork…means never having to take all the blame yourself.’

How blessed we are to be able to work. We are privileged to have a job. And we are obligated to work hard and do our best. ‘Every employer searches for that hard working person. While
living in Minnesota I heard many employers say that they would like to hire a young person from Stearns County. The citizens of Stearns County were known to be hard working farmers. The children of these farmers learned a work ethic from their parents. They were intelligent workers. They learned quickly. They knew what needed to be done. And they put in a full day’s work.

A woman advertised for someone to work in her garden. Two men applied for the job. The woman interviewed them out on the front lawn. The woman’s mother happened to be on the porch, making signs to her daughter to choose the shorter man. Following her mother’s instinct, she hired the shorter man.

Later the woman told her mother, .I liked the taller fellow’s face. It was a strong face.” “Face!” exclaimed the mother. “Whenever you hire somebody to work in your garden, look
at his pants! If the knees are worn or patched, hire him. If the seat of his pants are worn or patched, get rid of him.”

Charles Kingsley wrote, “Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which ‘must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to
work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and contentment, and a hundred virtues which
the idle never know.”

There is a famous story about three ditch diggers. One digger leaned on his shovel and talked about owning the company. Another complained about the hours and the pay. The third just kept digging. Years went by, and the first guy was still leaning on that shovel. The second guy had retired on disability after a phony injury. And the third guy…he owned
the company.

No matter what you do, someone is watching. General Colin L. Powell remembers what happened when he was mopping floors at a local soft-drink bottling plant. One day someone
let 50 cases of cola crash to the concrete, and brown sticky foam cascaded across the floor. It was almost more than one could bear. But. Colin was in charge of mopping so he began
mopping, right to left, left to right. At summer’s end, the foreman said, “You mop floors pretty good.” The next summer, the foreman had me filling bottles. The third summer, Colin was deputy foreman. Colin said there is one important lesson he learned: “Someone is always watching.”

A young man applied for a job in a small factory. The owner had enough employees so he said to the young man, “I am sorry, but we don’t have enough work to keep another employee busy.” The young man replied, “I am sure you do! You have no idea what a little bit of work it takes to keep me busy.”

Many of our parishioners gave a donation toward a pew. Two weeks ago Tom Magott attached the donors’ nameplates to the pew. These nameplates were attached under the armrest of the pew which faces the outside wall. It is true that you can hardly see the nameplates. People nearly have to drop to their knees to read the nameplate. I made the decision to attach the nameplates on the pew facing the outside aisle rather than the middle aisle.

Since our church is the house of God and we come to church to worship God, I did not want anything to distract us from looking to the altar and tabernacle. Secondly, there were some people who said that they would like to pay for the construction of a pew but could not afford it. Nameplates down the center aisle could be an unpleasant reminder to some as they come to church to worship God.

Last week we held a meeting with the chair people of all St.
Gerard organizations. councils and committees. We are gearing
up for a Season of Welcome. We want to make sure that all
our parishioners are welcomed. And, we want to welcome new
panshioners. So, the chair people of each organization, council
or committee will assign their members to be greeters after a
particular Mass. Greeters will stand in front of church as the
priests and deacon do, and greet people. We will continue the
Season of Welcome’ for many weeks. Then, we will ask all
the people in church to welcome family members, relatives and
neighbors to join us at Mass. It is nice to greet and welcome~ ,
but we also want them to worship with us.

A sign in an aerospace research and development lab: This Is
A Laboratory …Let’s Have More Labor and Less Oratory.

Have a pleasant Labor Day.

Fr. Jim Shea C.SS.R.

Pastor’s Notes August 24, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

An elderly man was heading home from a party when the police pulled him over for reckless driving. The officer instructed him to get out of the car and walk the line. Just as he is about to take his first step the police radio blares out a notice of a robbery taking place just a block away. The officer told the old fellow to stay put, he’d be right back. He had to check on the robbery down the street.

The old man waits and waits. Tired of waiting he decides to drive home. He parks the car in the garage. He tells his wife that he is going to bed. If anyone comes looking for me tell them that I have the flu and have been in bed all day. A few hours later the police knocked at the door. They ask if Mr. X lives there. His wife said, “Yes.” They asked to see him.

The wife replied, “He is in bed with the flu and has been sleeping all day.” The police shows the wife the old man’s driver’s license. Then, they ask to see his car. She was
reluctant to show the police the car but they insisted. So she takes them to the garage and opens the door. Behold! Parked in her garage was the police car, with the lights still flashing.
”Welcome to the slammer, Old man, and bring your wife with you!!’

From the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th, to the Commemoration of All Souls on November 2nd., all the churches of our Archdiocese will be celebrating a “Season of Welcome”. What is a “Season of Welcome”? It is welcoming newcomers to Mass. The primary purpose. of the Season of Welcome, is to proclaim the saving love of Jesus Christ and to invite others to an encounter with Him in the beauty of the Mass. Simply put – let’s get more people to come to Mass.

One of the goals for the New Evangelization Pastoral Priority is to increase Sunday Mass attendance across the archdiocese. We want to move the number of people attending Mass from 152,000 to 160,000 by October 31, 2015. Our church is a church which welcomes all peoples. There are no strangers in our church; Only friends we haven’t met yet. And so, the
archdiocese has given us a resource packet of welcoming materials. We’ve also devised a welcoming step of our own.

For us at St. Gerard. this means that we are all Welcomers. Every Sunday we see the ushers standing at the front doors welcoming the people as they come to Mass. Before we begin
Mass we extend a welcome to everyone and ask the people to welcome one another. At the sign of peace we reach out to people near us to share a bit of Christ’s peace with them. And,
after Mass we greet people as we stand .around and talk.

The new welcoming step which we devised, is to get more people involved in welcoming and getting to know people. We want to invite the different organizations within our
parish to join Father Gary, Deacon Joe and myself in greeting people as they leave Mass. Many people immediately head to their cars. The priests and deacon simply cannot greet
everyone as they depart. However, with an entire committee, such as the pastoral council and others greeting the people, we should be able to shake hands and share a word or two
with everyone leaving church. The different councils and organizations will be assigned to different weekends and different Masses.

On Wednesday. August 27th. we will meet with the chair people of all the organizations, councils and committees within the parish. These chair people will carry the message
to their constituents. inviting them to be part of the ‘Welcomers’ team. Our ‘Welcomers’ wiII begin in September.

Within this bulletin is the financial budget for 2014-2015. We condensed the budget into general headings. If you would like to see the line items under each heading, you are
welcome to drop by the office and we will give you a copy. An the line items are assumed into the general headings. The bottom line for each heading remains the same. The bottom
line of the entire budge remains the same.

We have received the materials for the Archbishops Annual Appeal. Our goal has slightly increased this year. This year’s goal is $10,315.

Teachers are back to school. Some kids are back to school. This week most of the kids will be back to school. So – DO NOT SPEED THROUGH SCHOOL ZONES! Here’s what one teacher observed as she was interviewed by the principal of a public high school.

“Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits,
censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self-esteem and personal pride. You want me
to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship, and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me…I CAN’T PRAY?”

A blessed school year to all.
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – August 17, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

When he was president, Lyndon Johnson hung a framed letter on the wall of his office. The letter was written by General Sam Houston and sent to Johnson’s great.grandfather, Baines Johnson. That letter was written more than a hundred years earlier. Sam Houston’s signature had made the letter valuable.

The story behind the letter is most significant. Sam Houston was living a disreputable lifestyle. In a friendly manner. Baines Johnson had led Sam Houston to Christ. Houston became a changed man.

The day came for Sam Houston to be baptized. His family and friends knew his past history. And now, he was being baptized? Unbelievable! Nevertheless, the minister took Sam down to the river. They waded out to waist deep water. The minister poured water over Sam’s head while he recited the words of Baptism. When the ceremony was complete, the minister reassured Sam that his soul was clean and all his sins were washed down the river. Sam said, “Really! My sins are washed down the river?” Looking downstream he said, “I pity the poor fish.”

When the minister and Sam walked ashore, Sam announced that he would like to pay half the minister’s salary. When someone asked him why, his simple response was, “My pocketbook was baptized as well!”

Next week I will publish our St. Gerard budget for 2014-2015. In preparation to build this budget, we asked every department in the parish to give us a budget for their activities during the next year. Our finance committee gathered all the department budgets and built St. Gerard’s annual budget. We factored in an increase in utilities, as well as other line items. So we added a 3% expense increase to the budget.

Canon Law and the Bishops of America encourage pastors to address the money issue at least once a year. In a few weeks, I will use homily time to remind all of us of our financial
obligations. I will ask myself and you, “Are we being fair and honest with God as we make our church contributions?” As we look at a 3% budget increase, can each of us increase our
offerings by 3% or more? I will also speak about Faith Direct, the convenient service which transfers money from our personal bank account to St. Gerard Church account. When that transfer happens, can we say that your bank account is baptized as well?

The old story is told about a Chicago corporation beginning to use a computer to make payroll. One day the computer had a glitch. On payday one of the employees received a payday check for $00.00. Staring at the empty check for a moment. the man moaned: “I’ve always been afraid this would happen. My deductions have finally caught up with my salary.”

Just the words ’deductions’ or `income tax’ can send shivers up our spines. People work hard for their money. We spend long hours on the job. We look forward to our paycheck. How shocking it is to see how the government chops a hunk of money right off the top of our paychecks. Well, the Archdiocese does the same. The Archdiocesan Service Fund (ASF) taxes each parish a percentage of their income. This money is used for operating funds for the
Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, formerly known as the Chancery Office. The taxes range from 2% to 12%, depending upon the annual income of the parish. St. Gerard is taxed 9% of our
income.
A few years ago we held a capital campaign. The people were extremely generous. We used the capital campaign money for the restoration of our church. Because of our people’s
generosity, the capital campaign money surpassed the restoration expenses. So, we conservatively invested that money in trusts. It is managed by the Catholic Community
Foundation. Sometime in the future our parishioners might seriously consider the construction of a community center, or a hall. If so, we have seed money to get started.

Over and above the 9% that the Archdiocese taxes St. Gerard’s on its annual income, Archbishop Gustavo asks the faithful to make a donation to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. This money is used for the many educational and service programs throughout the Archdiocese. Once again. the Archdiocese sets the goal for each parish, based on the income of the parish. Last year St. Gerard’s goal was $8,684. I want to congratulate the people of St. Gerard. We surpassed our goal. The combined pledges of all the people: $13,372.86. To date, the payment on the combined pledges: $10,605.86.

It is the policy of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal to recognize the parishes that exceed the goal. So, one half of the monies which surpass the goal is returned to the parish. This year we are anticipating a check from the Archdiocese.

Each year a missionary visits each parish in the Archdiocese to speak about the missions in our country or overseas. On Labor Day weekend, Father Dominic Duggins, a priest with the
Glenmary Home Missioners, will visit St. Gerard. He will tell us about the Glenmary priests and brothers who minister in the poverty stricken areas of our country, such as Appalachia.

Dave Barry reports: “My therapist told me that the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. Already I feel better.

United in our Redeemer,

Fr. Jim Shea C.SS.R

Pastor’s Notes – August 9, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A young American businessman told this story about himself. ‘On a visit to my wife’s native England for our honeymoon, we arrived at London’s Gatwick Airport.  Tania headed for the British passport line while I, an american, waited in the foreigners’ line.  When my turn came, the customs officer looked at me and said:  “welcome to London.”  He then asked why I came to London.  “Pleasure,” I replied.  “I’m on my honeymoon.”

The officer looked at my passport, confirming that the photo was truly me.  Then he looked to one side of me, and then the other.  “That’s very interesting, sir,” he said as he stamped my passport.  “Most men coming to London would bring their wives with them.”

That one word ‘welcome’ is such a comforting word.  Welcome to my home.  Welcome to my city.  Welcome to my country.  Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Grandma had a verse posted to the front door of her home.  It read:  “Come in the evening.  Come in the morning. Come when expected. Come without warning. Thousands of welcomes are here before you.  The oftener you come, the more we’ll adore you.”

Two months ago Archbishop Gustavo dedicated the Archdiocese to the Holy Spirit.  During the dedication he referred to our Mutually Shared Vision: encountering Christ; United as Church; Sent by the Spirit.

When the Lord missioned his apostles, He said, “Go out to ALL people, teach ALL peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  As pastors we hear the same call of the Lord.  All the pastors of the Archdiocese are urged to ‘Go out and welcome ‘in’ all those people who are unchurched and those who have taken a leave from the church.  We have a lot of empty pews during our Sunday Masses.  Let’s fill those pews.

During the past few weeks you have heard me talking about the sound system.  I asked for feedback.  I wanted to know how well you could hear the spoken word.  Was there an echo in church?  If we fill the church with people we will not have a problem.  The sound waves will no longer bounce off hard surfaces.  Rather, the soft clothing of all those people will absorb the sound waves.  The problem will be solved.

Now the task ahead of us will be to fill those pews.  The question we ask, “How do we fill them?” We do it the old fashion way.  We greet people, we welcome people and we invite people.  I purposefully said, “WE.” That means all of us must do our share to fill those pews.  Not just the priests and the staff.  Rather, every one of us in church has been missioned by Jesus Christ t go out to ALL people.

From September 14th through November 2nd, every parish throughout the Archdiocese will be participating in a program called, “Season of Welcoming.” The Archdiocese will be sending us a packet of materials explaining a process for welcoming.  We are working on a few ideas of our own to incorporate all parishioners to be ministers of welcome.  So, I’ll be asking all parishioners to welcome family, friends, neighbors, and fellow workers to St. Gerard.  Let’s fill the pews with happy and joy-filled people.

Last week I published the first of a series of columns about the finances of the parish.  The first issue I addressed was the envelopes sent to the homes.  We are eliminating the packets of envelopes to households that have not contributed to St. Gerard during the past 1 1/2 years.  However, if the folks of any of those households want to receive envelopes, I will happily send them.

Last week I mentioned that 35 households  use the service of “Faith Direct” to make contributions to St. Gerard. ‘Faith Direct’ is a service which electronically withdraws money from a parishioner’s account and deposits that money in St. Gerard’s account.  ‘Faith Direct’ handles the posting of the money, the accounting and the statements.  In short, ‘Faith Direct’ handles most of the secretarial work.

‘Faith Direct’ is an established and reliable company which handles the electronic transfers for many parishes. Three years ago we introduced ‘Faith Direct’ to St. Gerard.  I was hoping that many more parishioners would use this system for their weekly donations.

For a variety of reasons the majority of our parishioners do not use “Faith Direct.’ Some have said that they do not trust a company withdrawing money from their account.  Others did not want to make contributions each week. Still others wanted to make one payment a month. Still others wanted to make a payment at the end of the month.  Well, in answer to their objections, we tailored the ‘Faith Direct’ method of payment to parishioners’ requests. ‘Faith Direct’ can tailor the method of contributing however the parishioner wishes.

It is statistically proven that, on the average, parishioners will not be in attendance in their parish church 10 to 15 weekends a year.  It is also statistically proven that most of the people who are absent 10 to 15 weekends, never go back and cover those weekends with contributions.  So, for the church, those are lost weekends.  With ‘Faith Direct’ there are no lost weekends.  Faith Direct makes automatic transfers 52 weeks of the year.

For those people who have trouble trusting a ‘middle man’ in making electronic transfers, there is another way in which we eliminate the middle man.  It is called ‘Electronic Funds Transfer.’ EFT debits your checking account on the dates and for the amounts you specify.  There is no middle man withdrawing or depositing.

Or, there is another way.  I am aware that some churches use kiosks.  The kiosks are placed in the vestibule of the church. A parishioner enters the vestibule, pauses a moment while making an electronic transfer of his/her church offering, then proceeds into church for Mass.  I spoke with one pastor who installed a kiosk.  He said that it works well in his parish.  With a kiosk the donor is in complete control.

In conclusion, there are many ways to give.  The old fashion way of using envelopes becomes labor intensive.  Someone has to open the envelope, take out the money, unfold the check or bill (how often people fold their money for whatever reason), put the money in the appropriate denominations, count the money, prepare a deposit, take the money to the bank, give credit to the donor by posting the amount, and finally, send a statement at the end of the year. ‘Faith Direct’ would handle all those steps above.

So I encourage more parishioners to use ‘Faith Direct.’ Or, if you don’t trust a middle man, you can use EFT. Thank God we don’t have a vestibule. Otherwise we’d find space for a kiosk.

The older you get the more you like to tell it how is used to be.

United in our Redeemer,

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R

Pastor’s Notes August 3, 2014

Father Shea

Father Shea

Shortly after he registered in the parish a young man asked his pastor: Is there something I could do to help the church.” The pastor suggested that he write to those parishioners who were lagging behind in their donations. So, the young man sent a personal letter to each non-giving parishioner.

It didn’t take long before the pastor received some nasty letters. The following Sunday he read one letter to the congregation. It said, “Here’s the stinkin money we failed to give. And tell your secretary that there is only one r in dirty and no c in skunk..”

In the next few weeks I will be addressing the issue of money. Canon Law suggests that we address the issue of money once a year. For us at St. Gerard. the issue has become a bit urgent. Last month we depleted the operating funds in our checkbook and borrowed money from the Church Restoration Fund to meet payroll. Our expenses were more than our income. We rely on our Sunday collection to cover operation expenses.

So, we are approaching this issue from two perspectives. First. we will take a close look at our daily operations to identify areas to cut expenses; and secondly, we will be asking our
parishioners to increase their contributions.

First, we want to cut expenses. Today I want to speak about the people who registered in our parish. At the time they registered they asked for envelopes. In the last 18 months 261 households have not contributed to St. Gerard. Perhaps they used the envelopes for a while. At some time they discontinued using envelopes. Yet, we have been sending them envelopes. Well, that is going to stop, We send out packets of envelopes to
households every two months. It cost the parish $.73 for each packet. Each month we spent $190.53 to send envelopes to these 261 households. Each year we spent $1,143.18 to send
envelopes to these 261 households and they have not been contributing to our parish.

There are 190 households that receive envelopes and contribute. It costs the parish $832.00 annually to send envelopes to these folks. Over and above the 190 there are 35 households that use Faith Direct – the electronic transfer program. These folks do not receive monthly envelopes.

There might be countless reasons that the 261 households do not use envelopes. Perhaps they transferred to another parish; or perhaps they attend Mass and put currency into the offertory basket; or perhaps they have taken a leave of absence from church; or perhaps they feel that they are unable to make a financial contribution. whatever me reason. let It be known that I will respect their reasons.

Since we are cutting back on expenses, I will not be sending a letter to these households to inform them of this decision. That way the parish saves $127.89 in stamps. With this
notice in this column, everyone attending Mass will be aware of my decision. Hopefully the word will spread to others. A few weeks back we sent the August/September envelope
packet to the active households. That mailing will be the last mailing to the 261 households …unless someone requests envelopes. If you happen to be amongst the 261, and you
want envelopes, I ask that you call our office or see me and we will be happy to send you envelopes.

The late Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker. said, “Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” Herbert Hoover said, “About the time we think we can make ends meet, someone moves the ends.” Money is needed to keep St. Gerard afloat. It is the oxygen that keeps us going as we minister to the people. All along we thought we were making ends meet. Then, we were suddenly shocked to discover that someone moved the ends. And so, we had to borrow from our Church Restoration Fund. We do not want this to happen again.

There are three areas where the church’s money is located:
1) Our invested savings – managed by the Catholic Community Foundation;
2) Church Restoration Fund;
3) Operating Fund – check book.

In the weeks to come we will take a look at our income and expenses. We will examine other ways in which we can cut back on expenses. And we will talk about every parishioner’ s obligation before God to contribute to their parish. We do not tell people how much to contribute. That figure lies between the individual and God. But we do realize that the truism “equal sacrifice not equal contribution” applies to us all. As Blessed Mother Teresa said, “Even the poor people have something to give.”

I will also be addressing the issue of electronic transfer. We have 35 households using Faith Direct which is our electronic transfer service. We sincerely would like to grow that number.

The story is told of the old minister and the aging church. The church was in dire need of repair. The roof leaked. The doors were rotting. The foundation was shifting. The minister had to ask his congregation for more money. But, how should he present the need.
The pastor scheduled a Sunday for his money talk. It so happened that the regular organist took sick that day. A substitute was called in. The pastor gave her the program for the service. He then asked her to select an appropriate Hymn to conclude his money presentation.

The minister spoke about the roof, the doors and the foundation. He informed everyone that the repairs would cost twice as much as anticipated. So, the minister said in conclusion, “If anyone can pledge $100.00, please stand up! At that moment the substitute organist began playing our national anthem – “The Star Spangled Banner.” And that is how the substitute organist became the regular organist.

In the Redeeming Christ,

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.