As you know, bold steps have been taken to protect public health, which means that our offertory – the major source of income for parish operations – has been negatively impacted. We’re encouraging all parishioners to consider online giving to keep St Brendans strong during this crisis. You can give securely either through a credit card or bank account and our staff is very willing to walk you through the process.
Click the “Online Giving” button above or this special direct link to the giving form at www.tinyurl.com/stbvoyagers. You can also call the parish office at 614.876.1272 and we can handle it for you. Thank you for continuing to support the parish financially during this crisis.
A MESSAGE ON STEWARDSHIP / Fr Bob’s Homily, 1/24/2021…
“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus’ first call to discipleship as he encourages Simon and Andrew to lay down their nets and follow Him. Scripture tells us at once, and without hesitation, Simon and Andrew follow Jesus and head off to find more disciples.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? The gospel writer Mark glazes over the fact that Simon and Andrew gave up their very livelihood as fishermen – the thing they did best – to follow Jesus around Galilee, watching him preach, drive out demons and heal the afflicted. Jesus did not ask Simon and Andrew if this was a “good time” for a Galilean teaching tour nor did He give these first followers a clear road map for the journey. Jesus simply called them to trust in Him to multiply their efforts.
In the midst of political unrest, continued fears about public health, and concerns about our own futures, it’s important for all of us to consider the simple call to Follow Jesus. But what does this mean today, in our time, as we strive to gain more and more control over an uncertain world? How do we let go – not in terms of apathy or indifference – but in surrender to trust that the Lord will see us through? How do we turn from what the world says is important and cast our eyes on our Savior, trusting that He will multiply our efforts for His glory?
As pastor of St Brendan’s during a global pandemic, I’ve been reminded of this very truth increasingly in recent months. The people of St Brendan have been tremendously generous, especially in funding the majority of our expansion campaign in the last few years, but as a parish, we have not escaped the financial challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Although it seems like a distant memory now, you may recall that we were closed for public Masses for several months in early and mid 2020, including Easter, our most holy season of the year. In addition to lost offertory, we also incurred significant sanitizing expenses (to the tune of nearly $35,000 so far) and uncertainty about enrollment in our school given changing health recommendations. Heading into a new fiscal year last May, we knew that we had to be prepared. We cut our income projections, but some of our fixed expenses could not be reduced. That’s why, with the blessing of our finance committee, we approved a deficit budget in late June. Our hope was that the pandemic would be short-lived and we would begin “normal” ministry in the fall.
Of course, we all know now that COVID-19 is still very much with us. Throughout the summer and fall, staff worked to trim expenses and bolster our online ministry and by the grace of God, we went into the Christmas in a stable position (pun intended!)
However, as the pandemic continues to linger into 2021, our financial situation must be addressed. I am saddened to report that continued concerns have forced us to make the difficult decision to reduce our evangelization staff, at least for now. Our pastoral minister Dan McCallister will be leaving us next week, so I ask you to please keep him and his family in your prayers during this transition.
I do not want us to panic—for God calls us to cast all our anxieties on Him – but I do want to be transparent about our situation. I know that some of you are dealing with financial hardship yourself and be assured of my continued prayers for you and your family. But I also know that for some people, being away from Mass and getting out of a usual routine has meant a gradual reduction in or complete oversight of offertory contributions. Without a collection basket being passed in Mass or a reminder on Sunday, we’ve had as many as 800 families whose offertory has decreased or stopped in the last year. This is significant.
Speaking about stewardship as a pastor always seems so self-serving so I want to take a few moments to share how living a life of Christian stewardship can benefit YOU. Yes, we need your financial support to continue to minister and to make St Brendan a vibrant Catholic parish, but there’s more at stake here. When we recognize the Biblical truth that we own nothing and that everything we have and are is a gift from God, our outlook changes immensely. We no longer rely upon ourselves. We recognize that we are owed nothing. Instead, we understand that we are simply the stewards – or caretakers– of the gifts and blessings that the Almighty God has bestowed upon us. We show this understanding in our generosity to others, a clear sign that we do indeed recognize that God is Lord of all and that we are trusting in Him, just as Simon, Andrew and the first apostles did. Science has shown that grateful people are happy people and is it really any surprise that God designed us in this way? All that we have and all that we are is given to us for God’s glory.
In their pastoral letter on stewardship, the U.S. Bishops write: “The Christian steward is one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others and returns them with increase to the Lord.”
In this time of live streamed masses, sanitized pews and touchless worship, the safest, most direct way for you to support St Brendan is by signing up for our digital offertory. For those of you who are ready to begin or increase your support, I will put the link to our giving page up on the screen at the end of the homily so that you can sign up today before you leave Mass.
For those of you who are new or who are just beginning to explore financial stewardship, I encourage you to pray about how the Lord is calling you to share your first fruits. Not what’s left over after all of our comforts and conveniences have been handled, not when we get everything “in order” and definitely not once we’ve got it all figured out on our own. No, the gift we are called to share is one that represents a sacrificial acknowledgement of gratitude to our Creator. I encourage you to try keeping a gratitude journal this week and write down all of the blessings – small and often unexpected- you receive each day. As your gratitude grows, so too will your desire to share out of your abundance.
We at St Brendans’s will do our part as well to make sure that we are being good stewards of your financial support. For example, you will soon see changes to our offertory bulletin reporting to better reflect our current financial picture. Through our “Thank You Thursday” Facebook posts, we will share more moments of ministry and mission to demonstrate the immense impact of your gifts. We have asked all staff to reduce expenses as much as possible and have implemented a new expense approval process. And most of all, we will pray that God will continue to bless St Brendan parishioners, visitors and friends with generous hearts so that we may multiply these gifts for His glory.
Thank you for your continued prayers and generosity.
If you haven’t been using your envelopes but would like to continue receiving them, please contact Dina Harder at 614.876.1272 ext 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, no action is necessary.
If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing up for electronic giving – a quick, secure and convenient way to support St Brendan’s during these uncertain and challenging times. Thank you for your support!