From the Pastor

Our Strength is Our Unity

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I think it was on a Monday when I drove out of the parish in Durán, Ecuador past an open field, large and unused in any way. The next morning, as I came around the corner in my truck, I could barely believe it: there were hundreds of caña shacks with tin roofs dotting the large field. An “invasion” had happened; poor people occupying unused open space and by the mere occupancy, claiming it as a place to build a home and live. This has happened all over Latin America. It has been the way cities that once had populations of 50,000 now have sprawled into cities of millions of people. It is very messy, sometimes violent and a hard way to find a place to live. It is also a scene that is ripe for extortion and dishonesty.

Internal migration of the poor from the rural to the urban areas is happening all over the southern hemisphere. The motivation is social and economic: people are seeking a better life with opportunities for education, health care and jobs for themselves and especially for their children. Life in these new areas is harsh and survival only happens as people come together. Often a saying like: “Nuestra fuerza es nuestra unidad” (Our strength is our Unity) is a common expression of the truth of their reality. Primitive as this reality is, it also exposes some of the best of our human nature.

Little by little this new invasion worked its way into becoming a neighborhood and a community. Organization of all forms was needed: streets were laid out, systems of protection established; bus routes near the main streets around the area were established. Small business, like stores that sold basics were opened and other necessities of several thousand people living in one neighborhood came to life. From the community, more and more families came to the local parish church and I came to know them and the stories of the villages from which they had come. Soon enough, the people were organized sufficiently to ask me if they could have a chapel of their own.

I was amazed at the fervor and commitment the people expressed for having a chapel they could call their own. Slowly, I came to realize this wonderful hard working Catholic people would not feel as if they really had “arrived until they had a church in the middle of their community. They had already carved out space for the church and had come together to organize a way to build it. All of this and more they carefully laid out to me at a meeting late one Saturday afternoon. I agreed and promised to work with them to make it a reality.

Traveling by 4 WD vehicle in these parts always requires one to carry rope and other emergency supplies. I walked over to the truck and pulled out a large coil of rope, unrolled it and began to pass it out to everyone gathered for the meeting. At least 25 people, not counting children, grabbed a piece of the rope and we formed a big square in the image of a church building! Slowly we moved around in different directions trying to figure out the best size and location for the dreamed-of chapel. It was an amazing moment: I was watching the church, the people of God, joyously moving to the left and right in what appeared to be a fun game, envisioning a building for their church.

For generations our Church has taught us that the Baptized faithful are the “people of God”, the “Body of Christ”. Not only is a church building not truly THE CHURCH but no single one of us is THE CHURCH. We are only THE CHURCH when we stand together in Christ. We did build a lovely caña chapel in that amazing place, laid out exactly as all the people agreed it ought to be. And that day what I learned from those beautiful folks was an ever deeper appreciation of our true Church. We are ONE in Christ and, Our Strength is our Unity.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 16/17, 2021

Christian stewardship begins with the call to discipleship and in today’s Gospel we discover those first individuals who sought out Jesus and wanted to listen to him, learn from him and stay with him.
Today, Christian stewards search out the hidden presence of Jesus in their own lives every day. They know Christ is the “Messiah” who will one day bring about a perfect restoration to a troubled world.
They further understand that they are sacraments of his hidden presence in the world. Their task is to make that reality known through their own words and actions. What is one thing we can do to be better stewards of Christ’s life in us

Into the Ordinary

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This morning as I hurried to the church to prepare for morning Mass, I was thinking about the readings while at the same time aware that the Church turns a page today. For many weeks now we have been in two very special seasons, Advent and Christmas. The beauty and richness of these times, the eloquence and depth of the readings from Sacred Scripture combined with the loveliness of the decorations and joyful spirit of Christmas are concluded. This week we return to ORDINARY TIME in the liturgical calendar of the Church.

Interesting word, “ordinary”; what does it really mean? It may be one of those words that is defined more by what it is NOT than by what it is. In that sense “ordinary” is all of the time that is not identified as extra-ordinary. And yet so much of life is all about the “ordinary”.

At a funeral I celebrated recently, a young man gave a eulogy for a deceased member of his family. He began by offering this observation: the most important item found on a tombstone is none other than the tiny dash – found between the dates of one’s birth and death. For that dash is that person’s life. You might say the DASH is the ordinary. Come to think about it, it could be said that the life of Jesus is marked by two “extraordinary” events: His birth in Bethlehem and His death on the Cross in Jerusalem. Yet the dash, “the ordinary” times of His life, really tell the story of why God’s Son came to earth; the teaching, healing, compassion, water-walking, bread-multiplying, dead-raising and so much more.

I meet with many young couples preparing for their marriage. Sometime early on in our conversations I lift up the well known saying: “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime”. Point being, some couples get so entrenched in the planning of the wedding they forget to really live fully each day – again the ordinary.

God is found everywhere, of this I am certain. Yet it is hard to find God if one is not living in the present time, moment, and reality of one’s life. I am very fond of these lines from Thomas Merton: “God cannot be found by weighing the present against the future or the past, but only by sinking into the heart of the present as it is” (Entering the Silence, 460).

And so it is, God is found most intimately in the ordinary moments of each day – making “Ordinary Time” a very special time!

Fr. Ronan

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 9/10, 2021

On this first weekend after the Feast of the Epiphany, the Gospel reading reminds us of Jesus’ baptism.
It gives meaning to our own baptism into Christ Jesus. Jesus’ baptism is a reminder that he is not only our Lord but also our brother.
He was baptized, just as we are. He shares in our humanity.
Good stewards recognize that their baptisms call them to conform their daily lives to Jesus’ teachings, and to live their lives as Jesus did.
Through their baptism, they have been given the necessary gifts to share with others the new creation that Christ brings.
The stewardship question is whether we can recognize our own baptismal gifts, and like Jesus, use those gifts to bring the hope of Christ to the lives of others.

Arrival of Strangers

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone pretty much looked the same, went to the same schools, church, markets, bakeries, bank, park, and so
forth. It was a kind of Irish enclave. We followed with passion the Boston sports teams. Most had brothers and sisters and everyone knew everyone
else’s family members and their story. Anybody’s mother could correct any child and hopefully would not carry out the threat to tell “your mother”. We never knew it was different anywhere else, and it was a good way to grow up with lots of folks a part of your life – a real sense of community.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small Jewish village in Galilee. I imagine it was
a closely knit community as well. In fact at that time in history, almost all folks lived this way, each one mutually helping and supporting one another through hard times and staying safe against external forces.

The arrival in Jerusalem of three notable strangers, along with others in their team, would have been noticed immediately. And when the three distinguished foreigners started to ask questions about the whereabouts of the birth of a new Jewish king, everyone including King Herod, listened attentively. This was a moment that would go down in history. The birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had become known outside their local quarter and beyond.

The Feast of the Epiphany pulls us into the realization that our God sent His
Son to be born among us. He came, in fact, as a member of a small minority
people – for them and in fulfillment of promises made to them through the ages. Furthermore, this Feast makes clear that God’s saving action is for all the people: in the East and the West, in the South and the North – and this realization is the true gift of the Three Wise Men.

Growing up in small, homogenous areas as many of us have in one way or
another is such a good thing in so many ways. It can also be an easy way to exclude from one’s world others who are different. At its worst, it can re-enforce prejudices and bigotry fueled by ignorance and small-mindedness.

Every people of every nation know something of the struggles of prejudice.
Even today, the tribalism of some people leads to the slaughter of others and the divisions of peoples along lines of race, color, ethnicity, and religion. This is nothing new – rather it is sadly old.

At the birth of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem, the three Wise Men from the East announced the dawn of a new and universal act of God – to be among us as the sign of Hope and salvation for all humankind. Jesus Christ came to set us free for all of this and more! This freedom at its core is based in the God given dignity of every human person, without distinction. As followers of Jesus, it is up to each of us to live out this, God’s vision, in our lives and in our world.

Fr. Ronan

Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 2/3, 2021

Today’s Gospel reading reveals the story of the magi who come from the east to pay homage to Jesus, the newborn king.
The story of the magi teaches Christian stewards three Christmas truths: God, in the person of Jesus Christ, is present and active in the world, and good stewards strive daily to follow his star.
Second, each of us, no matter our circumstances or station in life, has a gift to bring to the Lord.
And finally, our life’s journey always leads to Christ, even when at times we do not know where the road is taking us.

Picture Perfect

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

All over my desk are some of the most fantastic pictures! The entire
space looks like an advertisement for Kodak! For just like you, I have received tons of pictures from family and friends of their children, themselves, their favorite sights while on vacation and often enough, their
pets. I love them. And one of the issues I face every year is: what should I do with all these pictures?

I mean, after a week or two I have to move them aside to simply see the
top of the desk and get on with the new year. But how does one throw out a picture of a bunch of smiling, giggling, and really cute kids? Quickly enough, I think I will simply store them away and figure it out later. Problem is, I did the same last year and the year before! So I will just find a new spot to store them, I guess.

In reality, the story is not the pictures. The story is what the pictures represent. They represent the enormous love and hope of hundreds of families. They are the story of growth, struggle, sacrifice, hard work, and lots and lots of love. We are talking about family and everything begins and ends, in God’s marvelous plan, with family.

We know that a picture may be worth a thousand words and yet the picture does not tell the whole story. In my blessed role in Charlestown and in
other places, it has been my unique privilege to become a part of many
families. I have witnessed the birth of families in marriage; the growing of
families in births, adoptions, and baptisms; the maturing of families in first
communions and confirmations; and the radical changes in families in the
deaths of loved ones.

I have journeyed with families in trouble, with loved ones gravely ill, in
prison, and far away. One of the most painful for all involved is when the

family is broken apart by separation and divorce, even when that is the best
resolution to a failed marriage. We use the word freely and often – family.
It is a really sacred word and never to be taken lightly.

A human family can only come about through love. And authentic love
is always a gift from God—a sharing of God’s very self with a man and a
woman called to unite in marriage and form a family. Family demands our
reverence and deep respect. To guard, protect, and cherish the family is a
responsibility of all of us as well as to pray for the family and support all
families, especially those in trouble.

Anything we do, no matter how small that strengthens our families is
important and of value. For families are fragile. They are made up of persons like you and me who need to forgive, help out, and be patient with
one another. Often, it is a messy and challenging journey. And as we know,
in our time, families are found in various forms, far from the traditional.
However without exception, every family is precious in God’s eyes and
merits our respect and protection.

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and we marvel
at the fact that the Son of God, Jesus, was born into a human family with
Mary and Joseph. They formed a simple family with grandparents and ancestors. And soon after the Child’s birth, they became an immigrant family, fleeing for the safety of the Child to a foreign land. Because of the gift of this Child and all He is, we have the freedom to embrace our human family in love, compassion, and understanding. It is one of our greatest gifts of all and I see it so clearly as I gaze on these beautiful pictures all over my desk.

Fr. Ronan

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 26/27, 2020

When Jesus is presented in the Temple, our Blessed Mother formally
offers him to God’s service without reservation.
It is a service that Simeon prophetically foretells: a service to God that will turn the old laws and cultural norms upside down.
As we await the dawn of a new year, are we destined to hold on to old habits and customs tightly or like Jesus, are we willing to serve the Lord and proclaim the Gospel in new and creative ways?

Birth and Death

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

My mother died on Friday, December 13, 1991. Earlier in that week, my family reached me with news of her decline and I was able to arrive home from Ecuador to be with her in those early morning hours. Her death was not sudden; she had been on the journey since a serious stroke three years earlier.

As my sisters and brothers gathered in the days that followed, we shared wonderful memories of this remarkable and most loving woman. Of course, while we were preparing for Mom’s funeral, everything around us was wrapped in Christmas lights, decorations and cheer. While that may have appeared to make our grief more painful, it did not.

Preparing for celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ – and the power of the
promise of this infant king – opens for the Christian the deepest mystery of God’s love. In and through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, through the ages and today, we joyfully proclaim: “In death life is changed, not ended”.

It is the story of life – each life an immeasurable gift, a unique work of art from the Creator, never meant to end, always destined for eternity. Living in this truth can transform our grief and sadness. Not changing it or making it go away, rather transforming it to accept our human frailty and look beyond it to the Author of life and the promise of life eternal.

Christmas 1991 was a peaceful and sweet time for my family. We remembered with deep love and gratitude as we celebrated the Birth of the Messiah, the font of all Love.

Christmas 2020, well maybe you and I need to do something similar. Painful
losses beyond measure have been part of everyone’s life as well as the life of our nation and world. The human frailty of our nation has been exposed like never before. Nonetheless, we look to Bethlehem and recall Immanuel – God is with us.

The hope we long for is not only from a vaccine but more so, from reembracing the infinite Love, discovered by the shepherds, sought by the kings, and here for us this day.

Fr. Ronan

Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 19/20, 2020

In today’s Gospel reading we have the story of the Annunciation, when the angel of the Lord announced to Mary that she would give birth to Christ through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.
Mary allowed God’s messenger to speak to her. She was attentive, not afraid to enter into a dialogue, then unconditionally obedient.
Mary’s acceptance of this mystery is a stewardship model for us.
Good stewards remain open to the incursions of divine life into
the normal course of their daily lives.
How open are we to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
in our own lives?
What might we do this last week of Advent to be more attentive to the
Lord?

Living In Hope

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Living in the Advent Time means living with hope – looking to the horizon with the expectation that Immanuel, God with us, becomes ever more present to each and all. Yet, this is a deeply personal journey for each of us, for it is about a relationship offered by Christ to me and to you. Everyone knows relationships need attention if they are to grow and flourish. Maybe we can call Advent, relationship nurturing-time.

Throughout each of our lives, there are times of joy and times of sadness, times of success and times of failure, times of hope and times of despair. In all of the chapters of our lives, the one thing that sustains us in the hard times and amplifies the happy times is a meaningful relationship. Often the relationship is in the form of a friend, a partner, a family member or a lover.

The mystery of the Incarnation, the enfleshment of God as a human person can best be understood as God befriending humankind. Yet friendship is not even an adequate word to describe the birth of Jesus Christ in that stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Christmas celebrates God’s radical act of love for all people.

However, relationships of any significance are always mutual. In this relationship, God makes the first move in the person of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus continues as men and women through the ages are invited into this relationship with the God/Man. Through the sacraments, beginning with Baptism, the relationship offered holds the promise of not only friendship, but more of intimacy.

In this Covid blanketed December, the struggles every one of us face can be daunting. The friendship offered in Christ is more than enough to sustain us. Not just to keep us afloat, but also to give us hope. For God is with us – Immanuel is the fundamental truth of Christmas and always.

Fr. Ronan

Third Sunday of Advent
– Gaudete Sunday –
December 12/13, 2020

In today’s second reading Paul concludes his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonica by providing it with actions to take as they wait for the return of the Lord.
The first action is to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. This does not sound easy in a time of pandemic. The two words that make this task difficult are “always” and “all.” This means giving thanks and rejoicing even when our circumstances are not always moments of joy and thanksgiving, or when we are confronted with a broken world.
Prayerful stewards rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances, even during these uncertain and stressful times, because they are people of hope. A good reflection this week would be how the season of Advent can give you reason to hope.

We Are All Waiting

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Waiting is an everyday part of life in Ecuador: for busses, banks, stores, markets, almost anything and always, one waits. Slowly, it became clear to me that efficiency and availability of resources in any form are luxuries and not the experience of the poor. The poor wait. Actually, this truth is captured in the common use of the phrase and concept of mañana, usually meaning whatever one is looking or waiting for will not be available today, but maybe tomorrow. Wait.

I am not a patient man – I hate to wait for anything. Usually, I am impatient
with myself and with anyone else and so, for me, waiting requires a change of attitude and all the rest. I have to step back and take the long view. I need to see the moment in the context of the big picture and, although I don’t easily choose that, I confess that to wait can be a good thing. I mean to say the waiting invites me inside myself and helps me slow down and reflect, often finding the cause of my impatience groundless – in the big picture.

Advent 2020 is unlike any other we have known. We are all anxiously waiting to get to the other side of the pandemic. Yet Advent waiting is not meant to be a time of emptiness or frustration. The Church urges us to use these weeks to grow in patience and to reflect on the big picture, something beneficial for all of us. These weeks and the rich liturgies of these Advent days, speak of the hope of the ages: that One is coming to bring relief and freedom.

Advent is a beautiful time to even refresh one’s dreams for oneself, for one’s
family and friends, and yes, even our world. What might they be? What stands in the way of these dreams becoming real? How can one overcome these obstacles? Maybe these waiting days can help one see with greater clarity what matters most in one’s life and choose to move away from the less important.

Waiting in the Advent time can be like going to the gym to exercise; li’le by
li’le one grows in strength and stamina. Yet this kind of waiting is best when
complimented by prayer and acts of kindness. The prayer can be simple, a daily time of quiet and maybe reading a passage from Sacred Scripture or a devotional book.

Many in these days seek to connect with everything from Harvest on Vine to Globe Santa to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities. These and any opportunity to express charity and solidarity with the poor and suffering can transform waiting to a time of Grace.

Among the poor where waiting is a way of life, one rarely waits alone. People stand together, people reach out to others and many share something of their stories – amazing than that the waiting often brings with it the gift of solidarity with others. Think about it: have you noticed how an unexpected delay while going somewhere finds one suddenly speaking to another such that frequently friendship and stories are shared? Often enough, the wait becomes something much less burdensome and the moment is transformed.

Advent is a time to wait… ah, not just an ordinary inconvenience, but rather a special time that contains immeasurable Grace for those who would choose to wait with some quiet, prayer and reflection on the big picture. This waiting can help us grow in greater solidarity with one another, anticipating the immeasurable gift from Bethlehem.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday of Advent
Weekend of December 5/6, 2020

Today’s second reading is about Christ’s coming again, “The day of the Lord,” Peter calls it, but that day isn’t December 25th. It’s that other day, that second-coming day about which Peter is concerned. He waits with great hope and anticipation for God to remake the earth into a place of perfect justice and peace. And he sets some demanding goals for the Christian community as it awaits that final day of accounting and reconciliation: strive to be at peace, without spot or blemish.
Christian stewards work for peace.
As we await the coming of Christmas, what can we do to promote peace in our homes, workplaces, community and world?


MARANATHA

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

From the earliest of times, the Israelite community looked toward the arrival of the promised Messiah. The prayer for the speedy arrival of the Lord was often uttered in two Aramean words, Maran’athah. As time passed, the word continues to be used in song and verse with the meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”.

On November 29, we begin the four-week Advent journey toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Yet this year the holy season of preparation and waiting seems dwarfed by the crippling effects of the pandemic. Everything that is normative for the Christmas season seems at risk from Christmas parties to visits to Santa. Advent liturgies, Masses, singing, prayer groups and more are all changed to virtual or canceled.

Through the ages, the longing for the Messiah-King was prompted by persecution and suffering. People looked for one to save, to deliver, to protect and care for them. The greater the suffering, the more intense the longing and hope. So what about us in this Advent, 2020? Without question our community, nation and world are overwhelmed by this pandemic causing deep suffering among all people, especially the most vulnerable. The prayer, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, has never been more timely and needed.

What do you suppose it will look like as The Lord answers that prayer? I do
not think it means you will find yourself humming Jingle Bells throughout the day or stringing extra sets of Christmas lights around your home or neighborhood.

Opening our minds and hearts to the Christ Child, the unfathomable mystery of God becoming human and choosing the most humble of circumstances for His birth. pulls us into the essence of the God Who is Love. Focusing on this truth and mystery not only opens us to receiving the Love of the Child Jesus but also impels us to imitate that love in our lives with one another.

Praying Maranatha is the first step toward an encounter with our Savior, our King and Redeemer. “Going” to Bethlehem and later to Nazareth and throughout Galilee toward Jerusalem will offer each of us everything we need to live fruitfully through this pandemic and beyond.

For me, Maranatha is not a one-time prayer offered as Advent begins. It is a
mantra, a simple and profound invitation to the Lord Jesus to accompany me in my days. Join me as together we humbly pray through the crises of these times the prayer that gives birth to Hope. Maranatha.

Fr. Ronan

First Sunday of Advent
November 28/29, 2020

The season of Advent is upon us, and in today’s Gospel Jesus delivers a simple message through the pen of Saint Mark: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Christian stewards understand what Jesus meant when he said,
“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task.”
Good stewards realize that to each one a task is assigned by God. They have been set in a particular place and station in life, and have been gifted with unique relationships.
How do we respond to the tasks or cultivate our relationships in a way that keeps us alert for the return of Christ?

Thanksgiving – 2020

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As the number of those diagnosed with COVID continues to rise and fear and worry pervade the land, this week we celebrate one of the most cherished of our national holidays, Thanksgiving. Yet, for all of us, things are different this year. There are restrictions on public gatherings and likely many family members cannot come together to share Thanksgiving. Many families have lost loved ones and many more face economic insecurity.

How do we celebrate a day of thanks when so many are suffering, sick, grieving, lonely and fearful? The first Thanksgivings were in response to abundant harvests. Subsequent celebrations also seem to call forth lists of items for which we are grateful. Maybe this year we want to change our approach to Thanksgiving by focusing not on what we have rather on who we are.

Each of us is a child of God, completely unique, precious and one-of-a kind!
We are the work of God’s hands, created in love and for the purpose of love.
Everything we are is gift, every breath, smell, sound and taste. The energy of our Creator is Love and the longing of our hearts is Love. A visceral response to this truth must be gratitude. To give thanks to God for who we are, rather than what we have, is the most fundamental and critical form of gratitude. Living in that gratitude our response to those around us is more naturally authentic, grateful, and loving.

I recall Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends when the host invited
each person gathered to share one thing for which he/she was grateful. Those moments were always beautiful as young and old, college students and grandparents spoke eloquently and from the heart. Yet this year, because we have all been changed by this pandemic, we can do more.

Perhaps Thanksgiving, 2020 offers each of us a sober moment to take stock of the immense struggles all around and perhaps within us. The harshness of this time is inescapable and it can also be an opportunity to strip away any superficialities of this holiday and embrace a new and deeper prayer of thanksgiving for our very being and the love that surrounds us.

Fr. Ronan

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
November 21/22, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Saint Matthew offers a compelling vision of the end-time, when the people of all the nations are brought before the Lord to give an account of their lives and actions.
Interestingly, the sheep, the righteous ones, are rewarded for having acted with love and compassion without having recognized the face of Christ in others. Good stewards recognize those in need of their care as gifts from God. They know that they are the instruments of Christ’s active, loving presence in the world.
How will we treat others this week: our family members, neighbors, customers or strangers?
What accounting will we make to the Lord for their care?

2019-2020 Financial Report

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The Parish Finance Council is pleased to provide the Annual Financial Report of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish for fiscal 2019-2020. (A complete set of the financial statements, including a detailed Balance Sheet is available on our Parish Website, StmaryStcatherine.org)

We are extremely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of both our parishioners and the Charlestown community at large during what has been the most challenging period in our lifetimes. Despite the impact of the pandemic, we ended the fiscal year in a strong financial position with a decline in net assets of only $31,235 as of June 30, 2020. Having to stop the celebration of mass for several months obviously had a negative impact on the primary source of our funds offertory collections. However, an increase of more than $45,000 for the Grand Annual collection conducted at the end of 2019 more than offset the postpandemic decline in collections through June. In addition, an increase in on-line giving helped mitigate the loss of in-pew collections. As a result, our total offertory for the fiscal year of $445,943 exceeded the prior year by approximately $41,000. Because our weekly and monthly collections continue to lag behind normal, pre-pandemic levels by approximately 15%, we would ask that you strongly consider switching to on-line giving if you have not already done so.

Sacramentals were also affected by the pandemic, declining 8% to $45,606.
Rental income of $115,750 remained steady with the prior year. Gifts, and especially bequests, are items that can vary significantly from year to year. Two major bequests totaling $121,459 along with an increase in gifts of nearly $20,000 helped to offset the decline in other sources of funds allowing us to continue our much needed Parish ministries.

Our community’s response to the pandemic is perhaps best illustrated by the incredible support of our most visible ministry, Harvest on Vine Food Pantry. Recognizing that the economic impact of the pandemic would increase the need for food assistance, our parishioners and other members of the community stepped up and contributed over $252,000, an increase of $94,000 or nearly 60%. It is incredibly heartening to see that we, as a Christian community, are truly living the words of the gospel.

With the notable exception of costs associated with the food pantry, all major operating expense categories remained at or below the prior year levels. We have now completed largest capital project undertaken in recent years – the interior painting and restoration of our beautiful church. More than half of the cost of this project ~ $351,000 was incurred by the end of June and is reflected in the accompanying summary. The initial phase of the Inspiring Hope campaign raised most, though not all, of the funds necessary for the restoration. In addition, because many campaign pledges extend over a 5-year period, we obtained a loan from the Archdiocese to ensure that we could complete the project on time. If you have not had an opportunity to contribute to this magnificent project, please consider a gift at this time with a notation of – Painting.

The Parish Finance Council is deeply appreciative of your support, especially this year when many people experienced financial hardships. Our budget for 2020 -2021 projects a deficit. For those of you who are able, we would earnestly ask that you consider increasing the level of your financial commitment to the Parish so we can maintain a balanced operating budget while continuing all of our Parish ministries that help so many in our community. Stay safe and well.

Parish Finance Council
Fr. Ronan (Chair), Nancy Higgins (Vice chair), Brian Fleming, Dennis Hanson, Maureen Moore, Tom Mosel, Bob Rooney, James Santosuosso (Ex-officio), Kevin Walsh

Thirty-Third Sunday Ordinary Time
November 14/15, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the parable of the talents; using the example of money rather than abilities or skills. It’s a story about investments, risks and returns. Stewards understand that God has given them an abundance of spiritual gifts.
They know God doesn’t want them to simply receive these blessings and bury them in fear, but to multiply them; to use these gifts to serve Him and others; to spread Christ’s Good News; to go and make disciples of others. Good stewards invest what God has given them in the service of others and are prepared to render an account when the Lord returns.
Reflect this week on how you are returning your own God-given gifts back to God with increase.