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Parish Update from Fr. Neil

Dear St. Catherine Parish Family,

As we are approaching the end of the third quarter of our fiscal year, I wanted to give you a quick update on the stewardship of our parish. As you know, we have returned to our full Mass schedule, and most of our parishioners have returned to Mass in person, with a number also continuing to watch Mass online. The number of people coming to Confession also continues to remain exceptionally high. With regard to faith formation, our Families Forming Disciples program has been a tremendous success, and the COVID protocols that we had to apply have actually turned out to be a blessing in that we decided to implement a family catechesis model, which has borne incredible fruit in the lives of many of our families. I hope to continue this model of catechesis next year with options for virtual and in-person catechesis for our families and children. I'm also extremely pleased that both our parish preschool and grade school have been able to have in-person learning since the beginning of the school year. And we have had relatively few incidents and have been able to maintain a healthy and safe campus for our children throughout the year. Our adult faith formation programs in our English and Hispanic communities are also continuing in person and virtually. As we approach Easter, I am excited to say that we have almost 40 people in our RCIA program who will be entering into the Church or completing their sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil next month. Our outreach ministries continue to remain strong as well, particularly through the great work of our St. Vincent DePaul Society and our Knights of Columbus. Many of our community and fellowship activities have been suspended during the pandemic, but I am hoping to be able to resume a number of these activities soon as the weather gets warmer and we can hold more events outdoors. With regard to our finances, I am pleased to say that our parish offertory has stabilized after a noticeable decrease initially after the pandemic began. Although our offertory has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, because of your generosity as well as careful cost controls, we have been able to sustain our parish life and support our wonderful parish staff without much interruption. I am also pleased to be able to tell you that our capital campaign revenues have remained steady, and we have been making considerable payments on our debt. As you know, we were able to completely pay off our bridge loan on our parish hall this past August, and several months ago I requested a $100,000 matching grant from the archdiocese, which we received, as a recognition of our efforts to aggressively pay down our previous debt as well. Including the grant, we have been able to pay down the previous debt by $700,000 this year, which now leaves us with a balance of about $900,000. Additionally, we have been able to deposit some money into our savings, and I am thrilled to be able to say that, probably for the first time in a very long time, the savings in our operational and capital reserves are greater than our amount of debt. I am grateful to the Lord for continuing to bless our efforts to praise Him and serve Him. And I am also very grateful to all of you for your support and your generosity. In the coming weeks I will be meeting with my staff to begin budgeting for next year, and I ask for your continued support, so that we can keep doing the Lord's work faithfully. I value your input on any changes or reprioritization you might like to see in our parish mission. As we approach the feast of Saint Joseph, who is patron of the Church, I pray especially through his intercession that the Lord will continue to bless our parish, and that He would allow our parish to truly be a light for our community and an instrument of the Lord’s mercy and love.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Neil


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