(Bulletin September 8)

This past week we sent out the annual report for fiscal year 2001-2002. It contains a summary of last year’s income and expenses as well as the budget for the current year. I appreciate the work of Parish Administrator Tom Weber, parish accountant Vicente Bolisig and the Finance Council in putting together this report. Also I must mention the many hours of help we received from Mr. Ed Williams, Director of Parish Financial Services. If you have any questions about the report, please feel free to contact Tom Weber or any member of the Finance Council. They are listed in the final page. Next Sunday Tom Swim, who is a member of the Finance Council, will be speaking at our English Masses.

I greatly appreciate your support these past two months. At the end of June I brought to your attention the “negative cash position” of our parish, which stood at about $60 thousand. So far we have devoted seven two-bit collections toward reducing this debt. A total of $13,000 has been received, which is a great response. That includes some income from food sales after Spanish Masses. So all in all we are making progress. This Sunday the two-bit collection is for Build Hope, but next weekend we will resume the collections for debt elimination. This is essential if we are to advance with urgent programs of religious education and liturgy.

Of course, our main source of income is your Stewardship, that is, what you contribute in the offertory collection of the Mass. Many families have responded to the challenge of giving an additional five dollars each Sunday. Now that our school year is underway and people have returned from summer break, I expect that our offertory collections will increase. Most of that collection comes from about twelve hundred identified donors. Their names are posted on the vestibule bulletin board and to them we mailed the annual report. If your name is not on that list or you did not receive the report, please notify Monica at the parish office, 206-767-6220.

As you can see from the report, an important part of the budget goes to our parish school. This week the children returned to their classes. Their joy and enthusiasm makes any sacrifice worthwhile. Last year we had a quite large subsidy (that is, school costs were much greater than income from tuition and fundraising by parents). With the help of Ed Williams, we have worked out a plan to monitor school income and expenses, so that the difference will not be so great this current year.

This is a challenge since we are already operating on a shoestring. Our per pupil cost this past year was $3,442 – which compares quite favorably with Seattle Public Schools. Each student in the public schools costs the taxpayers around seven thousand dollars. Of course, Holy Family School receives almost no help from the government so the per pupil cost must be paid by tuition, fund raising by parents and direct parish subsidy.

At Holy Family School we have the freedom to offer religious education, prayer and sacramental formation for our students. For us as Catholics this is the greatest thing we can give to our young people. Jesus said clearly that it would be a very poor exchange to gain the whole world and in the process lose ones soul. Our school exists because we recognize that incalculable value of each human person.

We still have some openings in our school: the afternoon kindergarten class, second and fourth grades. If you know parents who might wish to send their child to Holy Family, please let them know. Also there are some possibilities for sixth through eighth grades. Please contact Mr. Morissette or the school office, 206-767-6640.

Besides our parish school, we are offering other opportunities for religious formation. This coming Thursday we begin our parish religious education program for children, age 3 through 8th grade. I am grateful to Fr. Ramon Velasco, Lin Fulwiler, Tom Weber – and their wonderful corps of volunteers for putting together this program for our young people. Along with the religious education program for children, we will have classes for adults and adolescents. Although they are oriented to those inquiring into the Catholic faith, they offer excellent formation and inspiration for all Catholics.

We will have a marvelous opportunity at the end of October. Fr. John Corapi will be coming to Holy Family for a two-day retreat on October 25 & 26. It begins Friday evening and continues through Saturday afternoon. Please set aside those dates. I can assure you that you will never regret it. Fr. Corapi has a message which can transform you and your family. Do not miss this event.

While making these general invitations, I want to invite two specific groups: engaged couples and couples with unbaptized children. The pre-marriage course begins this Sunday afternoon, 4 to 6 p.m. in the Ailbe House. On Monday evenings, September 9 and 16, 7 p.m., Fr. Ramon Velasco will conduct baptism classes for parents and godparents. You may register by simply coming the Ailbe House.

Speaking of Fr. Ramon, he and the Filipino community of Holy Family are hosting a celebration in honor of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. He was a married man, with children, who on September 29,1637, suffered martyrdom for the faith. His extraordinary life serves as an inspiration to all Christians. You are most cordially invited to participate in the Mass in his honor on Saturday, September 28, 12:30 p.m. It will be followed by a reception in our parish hall.

Finally, I want to say a word of gratitude to all who participated in the Listening Sessions this past summer. Preceded by a potluck supper, each one included a presentation by Tom Weber on the needs and dreams of Holy Family. Our parish council worked out this document last spring and, when we conclude the Listening Sessions, we will develop it into a strategic plan. On September 26, we will have a session for school parents and on October 17 a general session for the entire parish. The response so far has been enthusiastic and encouraging. The sessions for Filipino, Vietnamese and Hispanic members of Holy Family brought out very good questions and suggestions, as well as offers of various kinds of help for the parish. Likewise, the sessions for liturgical volunteers and participants in Perpetual Adoration provided thoughtful insights. I ask your prayers for our parish as we work together to resolve common problems and realize our dreams. As I enter my eighth year here at Holy Family (sixth as pastor) I am more and more impressed by faith and commitment of the diverse community which makes up our parish.

Note: This Wednesday we will have an opportunity to pray for our nation and world as we recall the tragic events of September 11: Masses in English at 8:30 a.m., 6 p.m. and in Spanish at 7 p.m. There will be a Holy Hour at 11 a.m. in the church and a school prayer service at 2 p.m., also in the church. On Tuesday evening, Sept. 10, there will be a requiem Mass at 8:30 p.m. It will be celebrated in Latin and will include traditional Gregorian chant.

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