Letter from Father McEnhill
September 26th (pdf)
Sunday Bulletin Messages
Introduction and Goals
Reasons for the Program
Why We Donate to the Church
How We Share the Blessings God Has Given Us
Preparing for Commitment Sunday
November 6th Progress Report
Beginning with the masses for the weekend of September 18th, I have introduced an offertory increase program for our parish. The goal is to ask all of our parishioners to reconsider their weekly or monthly donation to the parish with the idea of raising their donation to the parish. This effort will continue by way of weekly announcements leading up to commitment weekend on October 29- 30. The purpose of this is to enhance the future of our parish mainly by supporting maintenance and pre-maintenance needs of our buildings. However, there are also some future projects we would like to accomplish and I will outline them in the announcement next weekend.
We are doing this offertory increase program on our own. Meaning, we have not hired a consultant to assist us. I have accepted the leadership for the drive with the help of the Finance Council. I will be giving all the weekend announcements.
Finally, I want to emphasize prayer. Prayer is essential whenever we undertake anything in our personal lives and it is certainly true as we strive to accomplish anything in the Church. Please pray for the success of this effort and all the good it will bring to our parish. It certainly fits into the spirit of our 75th Anniversary as we thankfully look to the past and prayerfully ask for continued blessings in the future for our parish.
This is week two of my series of announcements preparing for our offertory increase program that leads us to Commitment Weekend on October 29–30. My purpose this weekend is to present the reasons why the Finance Council has asked me to encourage our parishioners to increase their weekly or monthly donation to the parish.
The first part of this request has to do with keeping up with the maintenance costs on a large campus with many buildings. Along with this is the need to do preventative maintenance throughout our property so we do not have very costly breakdowns. A good example of this is when the air conditioning unit in the church went down last June. The repair cost was $26,026. We need to stay on top of these matters to sustain the life of our buildings.
The second part is to actually do projects to enhance the use of our facilities. I mention the more pressing needs and the ones we probably will notice most weekends when we come to the church. Clearly, we need to remodel the church restrooms and we should replace the audio system in the church and social hall. We have to rebuild the brick columns that are at the entrance to the church. And we want to purchase new chairs for the social hall.
The plan is that these projects will get done when we have the funds for them. I am very confident they will get done because of a very successful offertory increase program. Spend some time over the next month to reflect upon what your offertory donation can be. Pray over it for yourself and also pray for the parish that it will always use your generosity to make itself an attractive and welcoming place to come.
This is my third article announcing our offertory increase program that leads us to Commitment Weekend on October 29-30. If you missed my first two announcements, they can be found on our parish website. They address our maintenance concerns and future projects that are mostly directed to our church building.
This week I want to write about the very reason why we donate to the church or to any cause or charitable organization. It is all rooted in our acknowledgement of the blessings of an all—loving, all—providing God. We begin with this each and every day. Every gift in our lives comes through people, from God. Just realizing that these gifts of ours—life, good health, time, people and countless material blessings don’t just appear out of thin air— makes us grateful we have such a providing God. This focusing on our blessings can change our lives and our attitude. Why? Because focusing on our gifts makes us feel loved, fulfilled, happy and blessed. And this is what God wants for us. When we stay focused on all the gifts we have received and are receiving, we know we are blessed, we feel good and well, which moves us to want to share, to give away.
This leads me to the next topic which includes prayer and reflection on how we go about sharing the blessings God has given us. I will do this in two weeks. Next weekend we will take time out to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of our parish. What a blessing this is!
This is now my fourth article announcing our offertory increase program that leads us to Commitment Weekend on October 29—30. If you missed any of the previous three announcements relating to the purpose of this effort, they can be found on our parish website.
Two weeks ago in my announcement, I spoke about the many blessings that God continually bestows upon us and how necessary it is to acknowledge these gifts. This is the basis for us donating to the church or giving back in some charitable way. So, how do we go about sharing the blessings God has given us? With most things in life, as people of faith, we begin with prayer and reflection to consider what does God want me to do. I think for most of us this reflection leads us to want to give back with sacrifice. A sacrifice is made by giving something up or putting something off in order to accomplish a purpose. So, here you have your pastor asking you to make a sacrifice. I suppose that could be taken in a negative way. I can see that. I would hope, however, that it will be seen as a wonderful opportunity: as a way to say “yes” and “thanks” for blessings received and to give back. I will not tell you what to give. This is where prayerful reflection comes into play. I will only encourage you to make a sacrifice. I cannot tell you what a sacrifice is for you. That is for you and God to decide. You might ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” In your prayers, He will give you an answer.
This is the fifth and last article I am writing to prepare for our Offertory Increase Program since Commitment Weekend is next weekend on October 20—30. If you missed any of the previous four announcements relating to the purpose of this effort, they can be found on our parish website.
This past Thursday we sent out a mailing with the material you need to make your commitment. Hopefully you have received this bulk mailing by now. If not, probably on Monday. Enclosed in it is a Commitment Card for you to fill out with a giving chart on the backside to offer some suggestions for your decision making. What it comes down to is a prayerful reflection on how you can help our parish fulfill its needs and respond to its maintenance concerns. There is definitely a spiritual dimension to all of this as you make a sacrifice and share God’s blessings because of your continued loyalty to the faith and the Church and certainly your love for Our Lady of Refuge.
Also enclosed in the mailing is the invitation to consider electronic or online giving. We will continue to use offertory envelopes and take up a collection. However, the banking world is moving to everything electronic. Browse through our parish website and the online giving link and check it out. If you are comfortable with it try it. If you would rather not, continue to faithfully use the parish envelopes.
Thank you for being attentive to this appeal. I am eager for your response next weekend and excited for what it will do for our parish.
This is the weekend we have been preparing for as our parishioners have come to Mass with their Commitment Cards filled out. They have placed them in our Offertory Increase Program basket. This is the result of their reflection on God’s goodness and their willingness to make a sacrifice and share in order to allow our parish to address its maintenance needs and repair projects on the campus. This is really going to help our parish. I am excited for what we can do with the increased offertory collection.
Thank you for responding. You continue to be generous in your support of the parish and it shows in all phases of programming at the parish as well as in the physical improvements that have been made throughout the campus. I personally thank you for your trust that we will use your donated dollars well.
If you were not able to make your commitment today, please give some thought to it this week. Fill out your Commitment Card and bring it to Mass. The Offertory Increase Program basket will be used again next weekend. If it is more convenient to mail the card to the Parish Office, you may do so. Your participation is so important for the success of this appeal. Please help out your parish. I am grateful.
We are starting to come to the end of our Offertory Increase Program as we had our Commitment Weekend last weekend with many parishioners filling out their Commitment Card and placing them in the special basket during Mass or mailing them to the parish office. I am indeed grateful for your generous response and your love for Our Lady of Refuge Parish as you support its good works and its maintenance needs. I am happy! This will help us immensely. We will be sending out a thankful acknowledgement and giving a report when the drive is finished.
However, this appeal is not yet completed. More parishioners are bringing their Commitment Cards this weekend as I am asking all our parishioners to join in this effort and help us out. If you still need some time to make your decision, please try to do so this week. You may then put your response in the offertory collection basket or mail it to the parish office.
Once again, I am very thankful as God continues to bless our parish as He has for the last 75 years through the goodness and generosity of its parishioners.
December 18th Update
Last week I wrote an article for the bulletin regarding our successful Offertory Increase Program. Because of the bad weather last Sunday many did not read this article. I decided to reprint the report. There is an update: because of our plumbing prob- lems and a desire to remodel our church bathrooms, we are working to do this project in the next few months rather than waiting until summer.
Also, we are appreciative of any year-end gift giving that many parishioners do. These additional funds are always very helpful to us. Many are able to take advantage of tax-free charitable giving through their IRA. Many blessings to all of you this Christmas for your goodness.
December 11th Report
I am able to give you a report on the offertory increase effort that I invited our parishioners to participate in over the past three months. Our records indicate that 163 families filled out a commitment card and the total amount of the increase adds up to $69,411 annually. Parishioners can still add to these numbers (if you did not get to it yet) by using the commitment card that was mailed to you. I am also aware of parishioners that decided to increase their giving but did not make a commitment to a certain amount. Your gifts are much appreciated but not included in the above amounts.
This is a real blessing to our parish and it will make a big difference. I am grateful for your love and loyalty to our parish. It will allow us to do some delayed maintenance and repair work. The first two projects are the repair of the church bathrooms and the entrance canopy to the church. You probably noticed that the church bathrooms have been out of commission for a few weeks. This week we will do some underground work to replace a broken pipe to make them operational. Our plan is to completely remodel both bathrooms but that will not be done until the summer. The supporting pillars for the canopy at our church entrance need to be repaired. We will also use this as an opportunity to improve the lighting at the canopy.
This is all going to happen because of your generosity. We will do these projects as the money comes in. You can keep track of it by going to our weekly “Our Parish Stewardship Report” that is in this bulletin. Go to the last line that says difference Year to Date and it will tell you how much we have available for these projects. Already though your goodness we have $6,121.00. By the end of the summer we will be able to do both projects.
Thank you for all of this. We are blessed!
Fr. Gerald A. McEnhill