By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.,
Dear Parihioners and Friends,
It so happened that the Federal Reserve minted fifty dollar bills and one dollar bills on the same day. When the crispy bills were put out for public use, a one dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill ended up in a senator’s billfold. So, the two bills had a conversation. They wondered where their travels would take them.
Twenty years later the same two bills happened to end up in the same billfold at the same time. They began to share their adventurous travels. The fifty dollar bill said, “I’ve had an exciting life. I’ve been to Paris, Tel Aviv, the Riviera, to New York. In fact, I’ve seen most of the world. Now tell me, where have you been?”
The one dollar bill said, “I’ve lived a boring life. All I ever did was jump from church, to church to church.”
Last Sunday I spoke about our money situation. The important things to remember are: The Lord has given us all that we have and has asked us to return on tenth back to charity. Whenever we give back the Lord will replenish us one hundred fold. We all have a responsibility to support our church.
In years past, St. Gerard has received hefty wills. Those wills helped us inpaying our bills and covering our operational expenses. This past year we did not receive a will. Therefor we ended up $41,000 in the red. We had to use our savings to cover the deficit. So, I am turning to you, our parishioners, to help us cover operational expenses and restore those savings.
Now we do have money in savings. Those monies are dedicated funds. Dedicated by you, the donor, to restore or build our physical buildings. Those funds are not to be used for operational expenses, unless there is a dire need.
I the old days I heard the ole time pastors say to their congregations, “I want a silent collection.” In those days the parishioners would toss coins into the collection. They loved to hear the coins jingle in the basket. But the pastors wanted cash in the basket, not coins. So the people began tossing one dollar bills into the basket. Many people are still prone to tossing one dollar bills in the basket. Well, in this day and age, the church, like everyone else, cannot operate on one dollar bills. We need bigger bills.
I also spoke about Faith Direct. Faith Direct is a service which electonically transfers money from a parishioners bank account or credit card and places that money in the church’s account. This is a convenient, efficient and safe way to make contributions to the church. No hassle. No checkbook. No need to remember to take money or the checkbook to church. It’s all done electronically. It is set up by the donor and controlled by the donor.
We have been using Faith Direct for the past four years. The parishioners who use Faith Direct love it. So, I am encouraging other parishioners to use this service as well. As I told the parishioners last Sunday, whenever you place an envelope or a loose check in the collection basket, the office help must take nine steps to manually process that donation. Faith Direct electronically eliminates all those steps. So please remember, whenever you use an envelope yo are adding more work to our office staff.
There is an insert in today’s bulletin. It tells us about our income and expenses for the last fiscal year. You will also see our building fund savings. Remember, the building fund is dedicated to restoring the present buildings or building a new one.
Well, last week our provincial team made new assignments. As we announced last Sunday, Father Gary Ziuraitis has been assigned as pastor and superior of Redemptorist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Before my assignment to St. Gerard, I was the pastor superior of Redemptorist Church.
Redemptorist Parish is an active parish, just south of downtown Kansas city, and a few blocks from Crown Plaza where Hallmark central offices are located. The official name of the parish is Our Lady of Perpetual Help. However, everyone in Kansas City refers to the parish as Redemptorist. If you ask for directions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, most likely the person will say, “I don’t have a clue where it is.” But, if you ask where Redemptorist is, they know exactly where it is located.
It all happened in the late 1800’s. Some Redemptorist priests gave the mission in the downtown cathedral. It was a succesful mission. the bishop was so impressed he invited the Redemptorists to establish a house in Kansas City. And so the Redemptorists bult a mission house about a mile and a half south of the cathedral. About a mile and one half south of the Redemptorists’ new home was a small community called Westport. On Sundays, rather than going downtown for Mass, the Westport people would stop at the Redemptorist chapel for Mass. Since there was not parish connected to the mission house, the people referred to the Mission House as Redemptorist.
Ten years after the mission the bishop asked the Redemptorists to begin a parish next to their mission house. When the parish was founded, they named it Our Lady of Perpetual Help. But the people were so accustomed to calling their place of worship Redemptorist that to this day they affectionately call Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish Redemptorist.
Two members of the provincial team visited us in May. They talked about the need for Redemptorists to be pastors and superiors. I suspected that they might be asking Fr. Gary to take over a parish. So I mentioned to them that I would appreciate having a retired priest at St. Gerard if they transferred Fr. Gary. This priest would not need to do administrative work. Rather, he would be a sacramental priest, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions and anointing the sick. Well, that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps I need to extend a reminder to the provincial team.
Fr. Gary will be the pastor over many ministries. First of all, the parish embraces people from around the city. They come from distant places to attend Mass and to go to comnfession at Redemptorist. Confessions are heard for two hours. Cristo Rey High School is located on the grounds of Redemptorist. The pastor is on the Board. Several parishes have a joint grammar school, located on the grounds of a neighboring parish. In the past the pastor of Redemptorist was the school pastor.
Redemptorist has a large social service program. This ministry for food, clothing, help with utilities etc. is the largest in the country. It is open five days a week. Also, there is an active Seniors program, open five days a week.
And so, Father Gary will be very busy serving the people of Kansas City. We thank him for his year and a half that he spent with us. And we thank him for the great spirit he brought to St. Gerard.
When opportunity knocks, some people are in the back yard looking for fourleaf clovers.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.