Thursday, November 12, 2015

Increased Giving Homily

(Since this was not a "regular homily" I was not going to post it, but one of my finance council members, Paul Gencarella, suggested that I do so anyway.  So here it is.  The readings were 1 Kings 17: 10-16; Mark 12: 41-44.)

There are certain subjects that I really enjoy talking about.  Obviously Jesus and his Gospel are number 1; but there are others.  I enjoy talking about current events, and social issues, and local news, and sports (at this time of year, most especially the Green Bay Packers—although not during the last few days after that horrible loss to Denver last Sunday night!).

One thing I do not like to talk about, however, is money.

But I will today—primarily because I have to.

If you’ve spoken to your friends at other parishes in the state of Rhode Island in the last 18 months they might have told you that their parish was having an increased giving campaign in which people are being asked to prayerfully consider increasing their weekly contribution to their church—and to consider sharing more of their time and talent as well. 

The Bishop has asked every parish in the Diocese of Providence to do this to prepare responsibly for the future—and most already have (in fact some did their campaigns as long as a year and a half ago).  The reason I’ve put it off for so long is not because I’m a procrastinator, because in most things I’m not.  The reason we didn’t do this back then is because 18 months ago we needed to raise money for our fire alarm system—and more recently we needed to do that same thing for a new organ—and I was not about to place a double financial burden on my people.

I made that clear to the diocese, and they agreed it was a good idea to hold off on it until now.

Now you also might have been told by your friends from other parishes that they heard about this in homilies for 3 consecutive weeks. 

Well let me assure you that won’t happen here!  Next week, it will be back to homilies as usual.  (Which might be bad news for some of you—I don’t know.  I hope it’s not bad news, but it could be.)

I’m only speaking about this on one occasion, by the way, because, as I told our diocesan representative: “My people are good and generous and they only need to hear about things like this once.  When there’s a genuine need, they respond.  They always have, and I believe they always will.”

Although you will get a letter about this in the mail in the near future.  Just a word now about that letter.  There will be a suggested increase that you’ll see there.  That suggestion will be based upon what you’ve given in the past.  But it’s only a suggestion.  Some may be able to increase more, some less—and some not at all.  As we all know, the economic situation of many people in our society has not improved in recent years, and for some things have gotten a lot worse.  But others among us have been greatly blessed by God financially—at least enough to make a modest increase in what we donate.

Isn’t it interesting that the Lord gave us these readings for this particular Sunday?  I say that “the Lord” gave them to us, because believe it or not I had no idea what the readings for this Sunday were when I made the decision to announce the increased giving campaign this weekend.

This was simply the best weekend in the fall to do it given the walk-for-life and the anniversary celebration and everything else that’s been going on here.

It was only after I set the date that I actually looked at the readings for the Mass, and I said, “Well, thank you very much, Lord.  These readings will certainly make it a lot easier to emphasize the point!”

In the gospel we have a poor widow who went above and beyond anything that we would ask anyone to do in this or any other financial campaign.  She gave everything!  It was only two small coins that she put into the treasury that day, but, as Jesus said, it was “all she had, her whole livelihood.”

And she was blessed by Jesus for her sacrificial offering.

Then we have the widow in today’s first reading, who “gave” to the prophet Elijah.  But notice her gift was not monetary; it was a gift of a well-prepared meal to a starving man—which reminds us that as believers in the one, true God we are to be givers of our time and our talent, as well as givers of our treasure.  Those of you men who responded to the invitation of the Knights of Columbus a few weeks ago to get involved in their organization—you will have the opportunity to share your time and talent with many people in our community in the future.

And that’s a great thing. 

Thank God we are blessed here at St. Pius with many men and women who give in these other important ways—and many too who “give” their prayers (and who offer up their sufferings) for the sake of all that we do here to save souls and help those in need.

So in closing I ask you to prayerfully consider this request—and to please let us know one way or another what you decide by filling out the pledge card that will come with that letter you will receive in the next few days.  Even if you discern that you cannot increase your weekly offering at the present time, please note that on the card and return it by putting it in a collection basket or by mailing it to the rectory. (Then you won’t have to worry about getting any follow-up letters.)

I thank you for listening to me today, and I thank you, as always, for your ongoing generosity to our parish.  This year we celebrate our 60th anniversary.  More about that in my “regular” homily next Sunday.  One of the reasons for this campaign is to assure that St. Pius X Parish will remain financially secure and stable for the next 60 years—and beyond.

May God bless you all for helping to make that happen.