At our monthly Finance Council meeting last week I received good feedback regarding my recent parish offertory appeal and annual financial statement. The council also recommended that I address two outstanding issues: the suspension of offertory tithing and the repair of the church roof.
The tithing (giving 10% of the weekly collections to charity) was suspended last Spring when it was evident the parish had serious financial difficulties. We may restore tithing some day–but I consider that day to be at least when the parish is on sound financial footing, which means having all our debt ($450,000) paid off and a couple of months of operating expenses in savings. In the mean time, please note that our parish still gives generously to the needy: our offertory funds the salaries and benefits of two full-time employees working to promote charity, justice and peace ($85,000 annually); we financially support our own Project Lazarus and other initiatives for the poor including special fundraisers for overseas missions; and, we provide in-kind assistance through countless hours of volunteer work, through food pantry gift bags, through the free use of our facilities by various charitable groups (like Borromeo Housing, Inc.), and in many other ways. We will always embrace the Church’s “preferential love for the poor.”
Regarding the leaking church roof, I arrived at St. Charles to find a proposed $190,000 contract to repair it (the best result of a bidding process facilitated by the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Planning, Construction and Facilities). Since we were already facing about $500,000 in debt, the last thing I wanted to do was to incur another $200,000 in debt–so I marched down to the PC&F office and asked: “Is our roof in danger of imminent collapse–am I risking the lives of my parishioners–or can we come up with a ‘Plan B’ and patch the ‘heck’ out of it for a while and so buy some time until I get the parish on a sounder financial footing?” The answer was that we can buy a year or two of time by patching the roof as needed for the cost of a few thousand Dollars here and there. Needless to say, I went with Plan B! Of course, some day the roof will need to be repaired…
Our parish was blessed to host our own Bishop Loverde at last Wednesday’s P3 (Prayer, Penance & Pub) for young adults at which he offered the meditation then joined our young adults at the pub. It was a great grace to have our local shepherd with us for formation and for fun!
“Spiritual Life Boot Camp” faith formation for adults continues this Monday, October 20, with a talk on “How to Practice Mental Prayer: The Meditation of the Word of God through Lectio Divina.” As Pope Benedict XVI taught: “Lectio divina is truly capable of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God.” I encourage everyone to come learn how to grow in intimate friendship with Jesus through deep prayer with the Sacred Scriptures. I remain,
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Don Planty