Bulletin (October 7, 2001)
These past weeks have been difficult for many Holy Family parishioners. All of us, of course, have felt the emotional, psychological and social impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It has affected everyone, from small children though seniors. For some of our families the effect has also been financial. A number of parishioners who work in service industries, like hotels and restaurants, have lost their jobs. Others face an uncertain future as Boeing, Nordstrom and other local companies prepare dramatic lay-offs. While there are signs of resilience in the national and local economy, still reports of people losing their jobs are always disturbing.
At Holy Family parish we are trying to do what we can to support families through this crisis. In some cases what matters most are prayers and emotional support. At the same time our parish St. Vincent de Paul and our Hispanic Madre Teresa group are doing what they can to help those in greatest need. I was most appreciative of your response to the two-bit collection last weekend for St. Vincent de Paul. Some $905 were donated. During the Spanish Masses a similar amount was given for the work of Madre Teresa.
Our parish finances have also been impacted by the overall economic situation. During the summer we had a slump which was somewhat normal. The first two weekends of September our collections did rebound slightly. On Labor Day weekend we received over ten thousand dollars and the following weekend $11,899 in the total first collection at our seven Masses. However, two of the last three weekends the total amount received has been below ten thousand.
In light of these trends we have made some adjustments. In September, we lost a part time office worker. Though her work was most valuable to the parish, we have not financially been able to replace her. We have trimmed other expenses. A small part of the budget was dedicated to grounds keeping, for example the removal of the blackberry bushes on the upper field which were infested with rats. We have eliminated that budget item and are seeking more volunteer help for the upkeep of our parish grounds.
A substantial savings to the parish is that some members of the staff are living in rooms at the convent and rectory on a quid pro quo basis. That is, part of what would have been spent on their salaries is saved by them utilizing those rooms for personal living quarters.
We are doing our best to cut other expenses. For example in our school, some field trips and outside speakers have been cancelled in order to save some money. Also we are hoping to wait a longer time this year before turning on our boilers. We are not doing some mailings in order to save some funds. Otherwise, we are trying to watch small expenses like lights, photocopies, etc. Sometimes this is a delicate balance because while we cut expenses, we do not want parish programs and communication to suffer.
Before the budget crunch hit, we did do some necessary improvements. Six members of our parish staff work on the first floor of the rectory. The only rest room on that floor was the one in the former housekeeper’s quarters. The parish, of course, does not have a live-in housekeeper, so those quarters as well as the guest room on the opposite side have been converted into offices. That meant parish staff, as well as visitors to the rectory, had to pass through someone’s office to access the rest room. A parishioner did the work on the restroom, which included new plumbing, electrical fixtures as well as a new door to make it accessible from the hall.
Some other improvements have been made by way of donations apart from the parish budget. As you know, last year new tile was placed in our Ailbe House chapel. With six to seven hundred people participating in Eucharistic Adoration, this is one of the most used spaces in our entire parish. Besides prayer, which is the most important work of our parish, the chapel also generates some income. For example, this past week someone placed a check for $300 in the chapel offering box! Likewise the new altar covering and ciborium for our church were purchased with donations. One parishioner who was so impressed with beauty of the altar covering wrote us a check for $2000.
The biggest expenses of our parish of course are for staff. The cost of both salaries and benefits has greatly increased in recent years. We have a somewhat “bare bones” staff for our parish and school. In order to avoid the need to cut employees Tom Weber, our parish administrator and I have taken a 10 % cut in our salaries. Other members of the parish and school staff have also volunteered to take a reduction during this time of crisis. We believe it is a time of solidarity. Those fortunate enough to have an income should do what we can to help others at this moment.
In that spirit, I encourage you to continue supporting the parish and if you are able, please consider giving an increased amount. We are trying to be good stewards. I know that as pastor I have sometimes made mistakes. I ask your forgiveness and support so we can move forward. Tom Weber, Steve Morissette and I are open to any suggestions which you have.
While we together face the challenges of Holy Family parish, I also ask you to continue your generous hearts to those beyond our parish boundaries. There are so many people suffering much more severely than us. I was most pleased with your generous response to the Dominican Mission Foundation and to Disaster Relief for those affected by the terrorist attacks. While the two-bit collection is intended only for the small change or the dollar bill in ones pocket, you have responded with extraordinary generosity to particular causes. I am convinced that what we give away comes back to us many times over. I want to thank you also for your support of the Mary Bloom Center. I’ll be going to Peru from Oct. 15 to Nov. 8. The staff and volunteers at that Center, as well as the Vincentian Sisters and their orphans, always remember Holy Family parish in their prayers. With that kind of spiritual support we can be assured of God’s help and blessing.