Friday, November 5, 2010

Our "Pledge Sunday Letter"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With heartfelt thanks for your previous support to the Church of St. Mark, I ask you to renew and increase your commitment to our parish.

As you have heard at Mass, and seen in our financial report, our parish is in serious trouble. Our expenses exceeded our income by $346,000 last year.

I ask you to prayerfully consider giving at least 2 percent of your gross income to the church.

The Biblical standard for the return we make to God is a “tithe,” or 10 percent. Some parishioners sacrifice to meet that standard now, and many others already give more than 2 percent.

For some parishioners, any contribution is a sacrifice that God treasures as he treasured the “widow’s mite.” But far too many people fail to support the church in any significant way.

Three weeks ago, we got the good news from the archdiocese that our church will remain open and active. We also were instructed by the archdiocese to work with other area Catholic schools to write a three-year plan for making our school sustainable in terms of finances and enrollment. We can, and must, do that.

How many of us spend more on cable television than we give to God? How many of us are so zealous about saving for retirement that we neglect God, who offers us eternal life?

All of us at St. Mark’s – the people who have been here for generations, and newcomers, like me – are privileged to be part of a faith community that meets our spiritual needs in so many ways.

We have the Mass, the sacraments and other forms of worship continually available. I see many new people, including many college students, at our Masses. I hear young families talking of buying homes in the neighborhood so they can be part of St. Mark’s. I am proud that many more parishioners are regularly going to confession. We have a growing group of people coming together on Friday evenings to venerate the Blessed Sacrament. We have 90 people, young and old, gathering for Bible study. We have wonderful music at our liturgies. We have thriving small church communities.

We have a school that, since 1912, has provided a Catholic education with high academic standards to thousands of children. We now celebrate a weekly school Mass. That school must grow and prosper. We are starting a pre-school program. We have a growing group of youngsters in Faith Formation, and we offer pre-school Sunday school and Liturgy of the Word classes for our children. We have dynamic youth groups for middle school through college-age parishioners.

We have a wonderfully competent and committed parish staff.

We have a group of women who for 25 years have offered prayers for anyone who calls the Parish Center and requests prayer. Another group knits prayer shawls for the sick. Our staff and volunteers take the Eucharist to the home bound and those in nursing homes. We are starting a Respect Life movement. Volunteers provide meals to the homeless three times a month. The Council of Catholic Women put on amazing rummage sales. I have seen how hard these women and men work. We have men meeting for prayer every Saturday. The kids at our 9:30 Mass helped St. Mark’s give 4,000 pounds of food to the Merriam Park food shelf last year. We have a parish festival, a parish play and a play for children.

I know I have forgotten many equally important activities of our parish. But what Catholic would not want to be part of a parish like this? What priest would not be proud to be its pastor? I am proud of what St. Mark’s has been, what it is and is becoming – a Strong Family United in Christ.

We are accomplishing all these things with only part of our family contributing financially. Think what we can accomplish if we all give more generously and work together to bring new people to St. Mark’s to fill our church pews and our school classrooms.

Please give generously to preserve, and to build, this parish, this Strong Family United in Christ. God will never let us be more generous than he is.

Father Humberto Palomino, P.E.S