Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A Parish Update

St. Thomas More Sanctuary

Dear Parishioners,

Every so often, I think that it is a good practice to look objectively at our current situation here at the parish. I am reminded of a professor I had in college who would typically begin class by asking two questions:  Where are we? and Where are we going? Let’s look at our parish with this in mind.

I began as pastor on July 15, 2020—three years ago.  The circumstances were not exactly ideal. I replaced Fr. Dabrowski who died here after only six months as pastor. I also arrived with the pandemic and all of its implications and difficulties. Now that matters have somewhat normalized, where do we stand as a parish?

We have three weekend Masses averaging approximately 100 people per Mass. The summer crowds are usually less since many (including myself) take their vacations at this time. The weekly collections vary, averaging somewhere between $5000.00 and $7000.00. Our parish staff currently has three full-time positions (pastor, business manager, director of lifelong faith formation) and various other part-time and volunteer positions. This year our income did not meet our annual expenses and approximately $80,000.00 had to be transferred from the parish savings to pay our ordinary expenses. Needless to say, this cannot continue to happen. We necessarily need to keep a balanced budget since no parish will survive for very long by continually withdrawing from its reserves to pay its bills. (If you do not do so already, would you consider some form of electronic giving so that we can be more assured of a regular income weekly?)

The amount of children in the religious education program is approximately fifty. First Holy Communion classes have been less than ten and the number in the Confirmation class this coming year is about the same. I have not had a single wedding of a parishioner here since I arrived. In recent years, funerals have slightly outnumbered baptisms. Our daily Mass crowd, however, is encouraging—usually from twenty to forty. A small Latino prayer group is in its fledgling stage, being organized by Sr. Rosa Narvaez, FMIJ.

What is planned for the coming year is a consolidation of the position of Pastoral Associate for Lifelong Faith Formation with Director of Religious Education/Catechetical Leader. Additionally, the person hired for this new position will be in charge of Evangelization for the parish. The future position will be titled the Coordinator of Catechesis, Lifelong Faith Formation and Evangelization. In the meantime, Sr. Rosangela Ganau, FMIJ is temporarily assuming the former duties of Sr. Clare Sabini, FMIJ, until the new position is filled later this year. Sr. Clare decided that it was time for her to retire from her position as Director of Religious Education/Catechetical Leader. We thank her for her years of service to our parish.

I also announced at Masses last weekend that a new priest will reside at St. Thomas More rectory with primary duties as hospital chaplain and nursing home chaplain. Fr. Victorino Coronado will join us sometime in September (official date to be announced).

Too often people become nostalgic for what a parish used to be like without realizing the lack of personnel and finances currently available in any given parish. Only about 20% of the parishioners attend Mass weekly, and the number is even less of those willing to volunteer, to contribute financially and to be committed to a particular parish, as in days gone by.    

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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