Dear Parish Family,
This time last summer, St. Wenceslaus and SS. Mary and Hyacinth were kicking off the One by One capital campaign. St. John had already raised 106 percent of the parish goal. The money was spent tuck-pointing the church and the new parking lot. St. Wenceslaus raised 133 percent of the goal and SS. Mary and Hyacinth just over 100 percent of the goal. These were mostly five-year pledges, so the money will be accumulating in our “One by One accounts” as donors pay their pledges. St. Wenceslaus will spend the money on repairing their bell and stained-glass windows, updating kitchen appliances, and investing in family ministry. SS. Mary and Hyacinth will be refurbishing their pews and church floor, updating their sound system, and investing in music ministry and family ministry.
I have to confess that I had made up my mind not to give anything to the One by One campaign. I had strong opinions on how we should be focusing our time and energy, and I didn’t like the timing of the campaign. However, I finally came around and gave a $5,000 contribution to the campaign. What changed my heart?
First, I enjoyed the individual meetings. While I was, in fact, asking for money, I enjoyed the opportunity to put names and faces together. I got to sit with parishioners and hear their stories and finally put a name with a face. I got to know my people better.
Second, I was impressed with the generosity of our parishioners. One senior member on a fixed income took money out of her savings. A young couple gave a very generous gift even though they knew it would make things tight at home. God always rewards generosity. As I watched others stretch themselves, I didn’t want to miss out on the blessings that God gives to those who are generous.
Finally, our parish volunteers worked very hard. They attended weekly meetings, put on lovely receptions, and set up individual meetings to discuss the campaign. They deserved my support. In the end, my heart was changed like the younger son in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 21:28-32). I gave a gift and was proud that I helped our parishes reach their goal.
One memory stands out to me. A campaign volunteer offered to provide food for the receptions. She spent hours coming up with amazing food like you might find in high-end restaurants. The food was amazing, but only a small number of people turned out for the event. Again and again, she and some friends came up with another amazing spread, only to feed just the small number of people that were willing to come. She never complained once. I insisted we order pizza for the final reception because I couldn’t bear to watch it happen again. She still whipped up a few desserts. You know, her generous service reflects God’s love. Every Sunday, God throws the amazing banquet of the Eucharist. He gives His very best, only to feed just the small number of people who come to Sunday Mass. Yet, the next Sunday, God does it all over again, and He never complains.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Joel Sember