This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 13, 2019

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This Week – July 13, 2019

Dear All:

I hope your Independence Day included good celebrations with just the right people and just the right fireworks. May God continue to bless America, your summer adventures, and our parish.

God blesses our parish in countless ways. One of those ways is in the ability God gives us to take good care of our buildings and grounds. We can do that only because God blesses you and you, in turn, share the blessings. You are generous with your financial resources. Your current contributions enable us to pay all our ordinary bills and to put some away to cover extraordinary needs. You are also very generous with your many skills. People are forever pitching in to set up, clean up, water plants, clean the parking lot, clear the prayer path, feed the vegetable gardens, weed the flower gardens, straighten up the hymnals after Mass – you name it. The place is in ship shape because you are so good. And because the place is in good shape, “it is a church that does what a church should do,” (as the poem almost says); it helps us to become the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls us to be.

The June 30 end of the fiscal year prompts a review of the progress made in 2018/19 and a look ahead at what is in store for 2019/20. Before describing recent and upcoming progress, I want to share some information about how we decide what to do and how we fund the progress.

SETTING PRIORITIES

Our parish has two councils, the Parish Council and the Finance Council. Each Council consists of two types of members. Some members serve three-year terms that are renewable once. Other members chair committees. Dave Mendez, a member of our Finance Council chairs our Buildings and Grounds (B&G) Committee. Current members of B&G are Jo-Ann Delasko (vice-chair), Dan Galati, Al Garlatti, Jeremy Goldstone, Joe Bijas, Christophe Bucher, Ron Iarkowski, Peter Hoefele, Walt Rusak, Norm Lavoie, John Demetrio and Tim Leicht. Each member brings great insight to the monthly meetings. The committee is supported by staff members Bryan DeLisi (Facilities Manager), Monica McDevitt (Business Manager) and Bob Ferretti (the Youth Minister who also serves as Tech Guru). They are one hard-working bunch. The monthly meetings are focused and very good fun, almost always.

Parishioners, Parish Council, Staff and members of B&G are great about identifying our needs and proposing ways to satisfy them. The needs fall under three main headings: safety (always first on the list), repair and upkeep, and program development. At their monthly meetings, B&G members sort through the needs, set priorities, report on progress, and consult the budget. The deliberations sometimes become a little rough, but the meetings end with everyone being friends, almost always.

FUNDING THE PROGRESS

In keeping with diocesan accounting practices, all work on our physical plant is funded by one of five accounts/budget lines: 520, Contracts, Service and Maintenance; 521, Repairs and Renovations under $5000; 522, supplies and maintenance, 523, Equipment under $500, and; 559 Major Renovations or Construction over $5,000.

B&G spends a great deal of its time figuring out 559 – i.e., which major renovations and construction are the most important for the parish. The funding for 559 projects comes from two primary sources, the 559 Budget and Restricted Gifts. Prior to this year, the Finance Council set aside about $60,000 each year to fund 559. Since paying off the mortgage, the amount has increased to $100,000/year. On the first of each month we deposit $8,333 to our 559 account. That money can be spent only for B&G approved projects. If a year’s projects do not use up all the funds, the residual stays in the account until a year when the funds are needed. Restricted Gifts are donations made by parishioners to make improvements that the donor desires and B&G approves. The lights on the sidewalk in front of the church and most of the upgrades in the hospitality room were paid for by restricted gifts. Those gifts can be used ONLY for the project the donor intended. Any project that will cost more than $24,999 must be approved by the diocesan College of Consultors. For the period 2016-2027, we expect to spend nearly $1,400,000 on 559 projects. The following sections explain those expenditures.

RECENT PROGRESS


(The following numbers are rounded and approximated. RG = “restricted gifts”)

Between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018 we completed the following 559 projects: NEW ROOF for parish center ($49K, from 559); NEW SOUND SYSTEM IN CHURCH ($5K from RG, $40K from 559); REPLACE PARISH HALL BOILER ($20K from state of NJ, $21K from 559); REFURBISH HOSPITALITY ROOM (carpet, paint, closets, recover chairs – $7K from 559, $14K from RG); LIGHT BOLLARDS at the front door ($10K from RG, $5K from 559); PARISH HALL KITCHEN (upgrade gas line, new convection oven, new work tables, fix ventilation – $9K from RG, $5K from 559); SEPTIC UPGRADE ($11K from 559); ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING in parish hall and offices ($6K state of NJ, $6K from 559); REPLACE DAMAGED WINDOWS IN GATHERING SPACE ($5K from 559); INSTALL AV EQUIPMENT IN CCD CLASSROOMS ($5K from RG). That should all add up to about $195K. Somewhere in there we also replaced the main 8x8 beam that holds up the parish hall roof.

LAST YEAR’S PROGRESS


Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, we completed the following 559 projects: FINAL PAYMENTS ON CHURCH SOUND SYSTEM ($10K from 559); INSTALL WIFI THROUGHOUT CHURCH AND PARISH HALL ($10K from RG); REPLACE CARPET IN PARISH HALLS AND OFFICES ($7K from 559); DOWNPAYMENT ON PARISH HALL AC ($6K from 559); PARKING LOT LIGHTS (finally get ALL of them working and install light on flagpole ($2K from RG, $5K from 559); RECTORY FLOORS (after much trying to live with it, replace “cat-damaged” carpets with wood floors - $5K from 559); HOSPITALITY ROOM ($1K for final tech install). That should all add up to about $55K, well under the $100K budget (not counting RG). B&G knew that the 2018/19 surplus would be needed to pay for the 2019/20 work.

UPCOMING PROGRESS

Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, we expect to complete the following 559 projects:

  • CHURCH LIGHTS – The original lights have run their course. The problem is not so much with the fixtures themselves as with (a) what it takes to replace the bulbs ($8K/year) and the grim truth that no one still manufacturers the replacement parts needed to run the lights. If we catch some major breaks, the lights will cost about $80K. If not? $130K.

  • PARISH HALL AC – The defunct unit has been replaced for a total cost of $20K. $15K of that will go on this year’s bill.

  • PARISH HALL REJUVENATION – The parish hall is getting more use than ever and could use some TLC. Fortunately, we have two donors who feel strongly about sprucing up the parish hall. They have given us a total of $20K. We will spend that amount to replace the ceiling, fill in the big holes in the walls and paint the walls. We would like to replace the floor but cannot afford that yet.

  • BACKUP GENERATOR – Half of our entire roof area drains into the courtyard garden well. The water gets pumped from that well to an outlet behind the parish hall. If the power fails and the pumps turn off, the water comes in through the hospitality room and then into the church. That has not happened in a few years. It might be time to stop tempting the fates. Hence the new generator for part of the compound. The generator will also enable us to keep the emergency phone running during a black-out and will enable us to provide a place for parishioners to go when storms knock out their lights – at least to get warm and charge cell phones. The generator will cost about $15K and 559 will pay for it.

  • SECURITY CAMERAS – Local law enforcement folk and the diocese encourage us to beef up our overall security. Installation of security cameras is one of the first steps they suggest.

That should all add up to about $145K. $20K will come from RGs. $80K will come from this year’s budget and the remainder will come from savings (i.e., the $45K we didn’t spend last year).

Looking ahead, air conditioners and parking lot repaving will be our biggest items. The prices look a bit intimidating. But with God’s continued help and your continued generosity, we will be able to work it out.

I am sure this is WAY too much information for some of you – but it seems worth sharing once a year. Following last week’s special edition about our graduates and this week’s special edition about buildings and grounds, next week will get us back to the familiar news about prayer, service and community.

Thanks for all you do. Being your pastor makes me one of the luckiest ducks I know.


Sunday's HomilyJuly 7, 2019 — Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part II: “The freedom to try, try again.”
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

July 7, 2019 — Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part II: “The freedom to try, try again.”


Who experiences success in every undertaking? No one. Into every life, repeat, every life, a few defeats must fall. And when we experience defeat, what does God want us to do? If the pursuit is not of God, God wants us to quit. If the pursuit is of God, God wants us to, as the saying goes, “try, try again.” We need interior freedom to try again. Fortunately, God offers that freedom quite lavishly.


Sunday’s first reading comes from Isaiah’s last chapter (Isaiah 66). It can be interpreted as God’s sales pitch to the exiles. God wants them to “try, try again” with Jerusalem. They had lived there, made bad choices, and got themselves exiled to Babylon. Changes in the region’s power structures then made it possible for them to leave Babylon for Jerusalem. But many preferred to stay in Babylon. Many had been born in Babylon and had never been to Jerusalem. The idea of schlepping across the desert to occupy a ruined city with a ruined temple held little appeal. Others had come from Jerusalem but had become quite comfortable in Babylon. Why leave?


Through exhortations like the one we hear in Sunday’s first reading, God encourages the exiles to give Jerusalem another try. He promises them that he will bless them there and that, once they return, they will have “the wealth of nations” spread out before them. God wants them to “try, try again” in Mount Zion. But they can rise to the challenge only if they have interior freedom, only if they are willing to let go of all that keeps them from wanting what God wants, only if they are willing to say to themselves, “I want x, but God wants y, and God’s wants matter more than mine – so let’s go.”


Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 10) depicts Jesus encouraging the disciples to “try, try again” in their apostolic mission. He predicts that some towns will not accept their teaching. He wants the disciples to keep going, to shake the dust of the hostile town from their feet and to move onto the next town. He doesn’t want them to wallow in their misfortunes or to bang their heads against unholy walls. He wants them to keep moving. Doing so requires interior freedom – that ability and will to want what Jesus wants rather than what I want. The rejected disciples needed the interior freedom to set aside urges to retaliate, to disavow the unholy egotism that cannot accept defeat, to put God’s desires ahead of their own. Jesus urged his disciples to “try, try again” and he knew that doing so required interior freedom. He also showed them what it meant to “try, try again” and how his ultimate interior freedom (“Father, let not my will but thine be done”) enabled him to keep trying.


What about you? When have you gotten it together to “try, try again”? When have you known that what you were up to was what God wanted you to do and, despite the setbacks, you found the grace to “try, try again.” Perhaps it was with your faith life? Maybe you experienced severe disappointment with prayer, considered giving up, but then opted to “try, try again.” Perhaps it was in relationships that really mattered? Perhaps it had to do with your health – physical, mental or emotional? Maybe you were shaking an addiction and fell off the wagon and then got back on? Maybe you really blew it in a big athletic event or in a concert or a play or an art show, and then tried again? Of course, you have done this 101 times. Name some.


Now, looking back, can you see that, not only did you do the right thing by trying again, but that you needed interior freedom to do so? You might have been tempted to stay in Babylon, to fight with a hostile town rather than to shake its dust from your feet and move on, to ignore what you knew was God’s desire to pursue your own – but you didn’t. You made great use of the interior freedom God gave you and you withstood all those invitations to mediocrity and accepted God’s invitation to perseverance and peace. When have you gotten it exactly right – in terms of “try, try again” and what does that success teach you about using God’s gift of interior freedom?