Dear St. Catherine Parish Family,
Last week I made my annual retreat (priests are required by canon law to make a retreat each year). It was quite a fruitful time of prayer and spiritual reading. I spent time, in particular, meditating and reflecting on the gift of the Eucharist, and I was able to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for several hours each day. Although there are many reflections I could share with you that came from my retreat, the most important was a renewed resolve to be a priest devoted to prayer and adoration and a renewed awareness that this must be the foundation of all the other work that I do as a priest. When I was ordained a priest, I committed myself to making a holy hour (spending at least an hour each day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament), and my retreat gave me a renewed resolve to make this a priority. This is the first and most important reflection I wish to share with you as your pastor.
However, today I also want to share with you some other practical matters related to our parish. As you know, the last several months have been a time of great uncertainty with regard to parish activities and ministries due to the coronavirus pandemic, and my staff and I have been planning diligently to try to restore as much of our parish life as is safely possible. I am grateful, firstly, that we have been able to restore Masses and Confessions outdoors, and that many people have been attending regularly once again. As soon as we were able to resume Masses, I was able to administer the sacraments of initiation to those who had been preparing for full communion with the Church through our RCIA program. We had about 30 adults who received Baptism and/or Confirmation this year. Additionally we have begun our rescheduled First Communion Masses for our almost 200 children who had been preparing to receive their First Communion this year. And finally, I am also hoping that we can restore some sort of schedule for exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament soon, even if that needs to be outdoors.
I also want to share with you that we are making decisive plans to begin our new school year this August. Our SCS Preschool and Grade School children will return in person, and our Parish School of Religion classes will be held virtually for the time being (more information about an exciting family formation program we plan to implement is forthcoming). We are also developing plans to begin our RCIA, adult faith formation, and several other ministries and activities in person where possible, otherwise virtually.
With regard to our parish finances, our fiscal year ended June 30, and if you had a chance to review our latest offertory matrix that was sent out via email, you know that we ended the year approximately $80,000 below our budgeted offertory. This is not completely unexpected; nonetheless, it is still a bit concerning. Although, I suspect that once we close out the fiscal year, our bottom line will not indicate such a dramatic loss overall because we have also been able to reduce many of our expenses during the shutdown. Nonetheless, I would like to ask you all to please continue to give generously to support the needs of our parish, especially as we ramp up for the new year of ministries and activities. As a reminder, even if you are not currently attending Mass, you can still continue to send in your offerings by mail, or and even easier method is to use our online giving service by clicking here.
In closing, I want to thank my staff for their continued diligence in caring for our parish, and I want to recognize our Knights of Columbus as well for their ongoing support of our parish, especially with logistics for our outdoor liturgies. I also want to recognize our St. Vincent de Paul Society for their continued service to our broader community. And finally, I want to thank all of you who have continued to support our parish family (and me personally) especially during these trying times. I pray that we will be able to return to a sense of normalcy sometime soon. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please know that I will be keeping all of you in my prayers each day during my holy hour and Masses.