The question has been raised to me at various times asking why our parish has a weekly second collection. Let me take a few moments to explain.
Some collections are simply beyond our control. They are mandated by the diocese for special causes. These include the collections for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Catholic Communication Collection, the Retired Religious Special Collection, the Pro-Life Collection, and the Catholic University of America Collection, to name a few.
Then there are times when an unexpected and unplanned need arises and the Bishop asks for our assistance. The collection to help the Brothers of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God with the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa, or the collection to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year (2013) are such examples.
At other times we work with missionaries who make an appeal on behalf of their religious order or their diocese. Fr. Wilson Paulose recently spoke to our parish on behalf of the people of India and the Diocese of Berhampur in which he works. The second collection that week went to the missions in India.
Locally, we have used the money from this second collection to help with necessary maintenance, repairs and improvements to our grounds and buildings above and beyond what our budget would normally allow. Have you noticed how recently five ceiling fans have been added to the nave of the church (which circulate the air in the warmer months but, more importantly, will keep the heat down—because heat rises—in the cold months). Have you noticed that the interior church walls have been repaired and painted, and that the front church doors and exterior pillars are currently being repaired and painted?
What are some of our future needs (for which we could earmark some of our second collections)? You probably realize that the cornerstone of the church building reads 1956 and I suspect that some of the repairs that we anticipate are a result of the age of this building (nearly 60 years old).
Our sound system is old and on its last leg. While it is currently working, you might notice a black cord that runs discreetly across the sanctuary because the altar microphone died earlier this year. Our body mic (which the deacon and priests sometimes wear) and handheld mics all need to be replaced. The amplifier in the sacristy is old (and, incidentally, I am told is borrowed from the man who repairs it). These repairs/replacements will necessitate a few thousand dollars to do properly.
Next, the heating and air-conditioning chillers (the green, rectangular boxes under the windows) are in need of cleaning and refurbishing. Needless to say, they are far from energy efficient. The estimated cost of doing all of these is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
We help subsidize St. Joseph Regional School. In fact, every parish in the diocese, whether they have a school or not, is required to subsidize some regional Catholic elementary school. Wouldn’t a special second collection to help with our parish subsidy seem appropriate? Our current subsidy is about forty-four thousand dollars per year.
Then there is always the unforeseen. Our current parish savings is approximately forty thousand dollars. One unforeseen, major repair could wipe that out instantly!
Quite frankly, I wish I never had to take up a second collection. I wish everyone would electronically tithe each week and we could eliminate most second collections. (Electronic giving would help us to plan better and to be more assured of a regular source of income.) I wish more than a quarter of our population went to church each week. (Those of you reading this column in the bulletin are probably not the ones I actually need to reach. Thanks for your ongoing support!) I wish, I wish, I wish!
Until I find the genie in the bottle to grant these wishes, I guess a second collection each week is painfully necessary.
Fr. Ed Namiotka