By: Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
An elderly woman died. She was an ole maid. Having never married, she requested that there be no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote: “They wouldn’t take me out while I was alive; I don’t want them to take me out when I’m dead.”
Most of us, at one time or another, have felt the sharp pangs of rejection. Rejection comes to us, packaged in many different disguises. It could be ugly words. Maybe turning our backs on someone. Or walking out in the middle of a conversation. Maybe a pink slip at work. Or a door slammed in one’s face. It could be someone shouting, “Out! Out! Get out of here!” Or it could be hearing the words, “You are fired.” It could be a “Dear John” letter. No matter how the critter is packaged, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts to the core.
This story is told about a young soldier who served in Desert Storm. While he was overseas he received a ‘Dear John’ letter from his girlfriend back home in the States. To add insult to injury she wrote, “Will you please return my favorite photograph of myself. I will need it for my engagement picture in the local newspaper.”
The young soldier was devastated. He told his friends that his girlfriend had dumped him. His buddies came to his rescue. They went throughout the entire camp and collected pictures of all the guys’ girlfriends. They filled up an entire shoe box. The soldier then sent the box of photos to his ex-girlfriend back home. He put a note in the box saying, “Please find your picture amidst all these photos. Then, return the rest. For the life of me I can’t remember which one you were.”
During the past couple of weeks we heard a lot about Paul, preaching to the Gentiles. We also heard how the Jewish people persecuted Paul and nearly beat him to death because he was preaching Jesus Christ. The Jewish people wanted to expel him wherever he went. But Paul kept right on preaching. Paul said, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
Heads up! Heads up! Look what’s coming! A new envelope in your May contribution packets, it’s called ‘Debt Reduction.’ Well, the envelope is replacing the ‘Restoration Fund’ envelope for the month of May only. The second collection envelope in May only will be for the ‘Debt Reduction’ instead of our usual ‘Restoration Fund’.
There is a reason for the ‘Debt Reduction’ envelope this year, for the month of May, and only this year. Each year we must submit to the envelope company a complete list of envelopes for the following year. So, one year in advance we submit that list. At the time we submitted the list we were falling behind in our Sunday offerings. Our operating expenses exceeded our income.
Since that time a number of things happened. We cut back on our expenses as much as we could. Then, you the parishioners have increased your contributions. I thank you kindly for your generosity. Finally, some generous gifts came to us through estates.
Summer is coming. People will be on vacation. Many will be attending other churches. As a result, our collection seems to fall off a bit. One way to prevent this ‘fall off’ is the ‘Faith Direct’ system. Faith Direct is the company that transfers donations from a person’s account to the church’s account. You the donor are in complete control of that transfer. You may increase, decrease or discontinue the amount at any time. You may contribute on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
We’ve been using Faith Direct for five years. It works wonderfully. Faith Direct eliminates many steps in our collection and accounting process. Well over 50 people in our parish are using Faith Direct. And, may I say, they are very satisfied. By using Faith Direct we don’t need to worry about the summer ‘fall off.’
Sometime in the near future I am going to give ‘Faith Direct another plug. I’ll be asking people to use this convenient way in making contributions to the church.
Last week we held a ‘summit leadership’ meeting. People from each ministry in our parish met on Sunday afternoon. Each ministry explained how they ministered to the people at St. Gerard. Each spoke about their hopes for the future. Now, the committee is taking all the suggestions and putting these ideas into a pastoral plan.
A frequently used expression by the folks at the meeting was, “We are family.” Fortunately our Church is a welcoming Church. We sing the song ‘All are welcome.’ And we have hospitable ushers who are always welcoming people at the front doors of the church. At the leadership meeting last week many folks talked about being a welcoming family. It is a wonderful trait to have. It is a trait that we all want to keep polishing week after week. No wonder people can say, ‘we are family.’
Life is a bumpy road. Laughter is your best shock absorber.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.