When our collection reached or surpassed the budget amount, the little man had a smile on his face; when the collection fell short, he wore a pout.
After a while, it was suggested that we drop the little drawing — it was too depressing each week to open the bulletin and see that little man’s sad face.
I’m afraid too many parishes are presently facing similar circumstances.
Parish bulletins I’ve checked are showing some depressing if not scary numbers. By mid-fiscal year one parish was more than $16,000 behind budget, another was $26,000-plus in the red, and at a third, expenses were running more than $4,000 ahead of offerings.
And the weather didn’t help a bit.
Storms struck two ways
A number of parishes need to recoup the dollars that weren’t put into the collection basket on several weekends when our shovel-busting snowstorms kept people from getting to Mass.
While a few parishes reported that parishioners have since “caught up” by giving more on subsequent Sundays, the massive amounts of snow that fell this season put a dent in the expense side of parish ledgers, too.
Even in a rather well-to-do suburb a note in the parish bulletin shared that the cost of snow removal from the parking lot was double “the $18,000 we had budgeted. That’s $18,000 we don’t have,” and the parish asked if parishioners might put a little extra in the collection basket in the coming weeks to help defray the cost of Mother Nature’s white bounty.
Does it ever stop?
When they address their parish financial issues, most pastors are quick to note the generosity of their people. In parish bulletin after parish bulletin there are thank you messages for giving, and not only giving to the parish but to this second collection and that, to that special purpose and this charity.
Parish after parish has announcements, too, about additional “opportunities” to help fund special projects, school tuition, the parish endowment and good causes outside the realm of the parish.
I remember fellow parishioners asking, “When does it ever stop?” — and thinking the same question myself.
Then I thought about all that God has given me, and what came to mind was Sister Marion Welter’s radiant face describing how good God is to us, and, no matter how hard we try, we can never match God’s generosity.
A School Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Marion can, at the drop of a hat, express a vision of stewardship that will help anyone reflect on their own giving — and realize that so many of us offer so little back to the Lord for all that he has graced us with and continues to grace us with. God never stops giving.
It could be ‘catch up’ time
Just thinking about all you and I have, not just the stuff, but the things we take for granted — shelter, clothing, jobs, access to education and information, experiences that enrich our lives, opportunities for entertainment, even snow blowers! — ought to spur each of us to be more generous in our efforts to show gratitude for all that God shares with us.
Increasing the amount we put into the collection basket — or contribute monthly online so that snowstorms don’t get in the way of parish cash flow — is a good way to help your parish “catch up” to its budget.
Can you write your check for $10 more each week? I’ll bet if you do you won’t even miss that $10.
And, if you haven’t pledged to the annual Catholic Services Appeal yet, that’s another great opportunity to let your sharing of God’s gifts do wonderful things across the archdiocese.
Bob Zyskowski is The Catholic Spirit’s associate publisher.