Friday, November 16, 2007


The only person who complains more about money being spoken of from the pulpit is the pastor who has to do it. As good and earnest a shepherd of souls a pastor may be, he is usually very bad at finding the right way to ask for resources to run the parish. But it is none-the-less his responsibility (canonically) to make sure that the parish remains solvent. As one bishop of the United States currently states to his new pastors, "Listen and pay attention to your people. But if there is a problem there is only one butt I am going to kick and it is yours."

Parishes are horribly expensive places to run. You know this, you have residences to maintain. Is it not ridiculous? Think for a moment then if you didn't have to maintain just one or two bathrooms, but 32. To give you an idea of why parishes are so expensive to run here are some interesting statistics that our maintenance man gave me this morning:

Saint Clare is slightly larger than average sized parish with a school, rectory, and convent. These buildings are getting to be about half a century old which of course means so is the plumbing. Those 32 bathrooms include 73 toilets, 20 urinals, and 54 sinks. There must be someone paid to clean and stock them, paper products need to be purchased to keep them stocked, and regular plumbing bills are incurred for a system that is so heavily used and antiquated. In addition there are 54 slop sinks, 7 bathtubs, 10 boilers, and 9 hot water tanks (one of which just blew up about a month ago. I know, I had to push all the hot water out into the parking lot from the school gym.)

Of course there are the horror stories of pastors who cannot speak if anything but money or waists it terribly, but in general that does not de-legitimize (is that a word?) a pastor of a parish speaking of financial matters. Scriptures are packed with money matters. So please consider these things the next time you hear a pastor speaking about money matters from the pulpit: 1) It is his responsibility and duty to do so, 2) He hates it as much as you (which may come across as anger) 3) He is not speaking just to you, but to his parish family as a whole about a general problem (or blessing - but I doubt that is case the for most of you), 4) he has no place else to turn for moneys to keep up all of the services and facilities going if the collection should fail to cover them.

Take that for what it is worth. It just seemed it might be helpful to have a glimpse on what is going on on the other side of an appeal.


MJ said...

I think what happens is that unless people see something literally falling apart or buckets standing around catching the drippings from a leaking roof,they assume things are running fairly smoothly. Of course the example you gave is just one part of a magnitude of parish expenses. Maybe if people got involved in their parish and became familiar with some of what goes on behind the scenes or talked to parish or finance council members about what needs and/or expenses the parish has, then they would be more willing to give a little more in their envelopes each week.

Anonymous said...

I've often thought it might be nice to meet in different houses, as was done with the early Mass.

Melody said...

Thanks for a different perspective on this issue. Something else to be considered is timing. October was the perfect storm for our parish. It not only was "stewardship month"-time to fill out your time, talent, and treasure pledge cards- but it was the archdiocesan capital campaign pledge drive, the Catholic high school pledge drive, not to mention the parish bazaar and turkey dinner (a big fund-raiser). If other families are anything like us, a fund-raising blitz like this meant that priorities had to be set and some of the needs had to take a back-burner. A little while ago there was a "meme" making the rounds on different blogs. The question was, "What word or phrase are you tired of reading in your parish bulletin?" I didn't answer that one, because I was afraid of being struck by lightning :) but my word would have been "stewardship"!