The following is a reprint of the Grand Annual Appeal letter that Fr. Hurley recently mailed out to the parish. Due to the important and critical nature of this message, we are including it here to ensure as many as possible get this message and can contribute to our needs.
My brothers and sisters of St. Mary parish,
I pray that you and your loved ones are okay during these challenging days. There is nothing easy during this time. The virus and its impact on our lives continues to create more problems each day. However, as a people who place ourselves in a God who overcomes all the failings and shortcomings of this world, I want to remind everyone how blessed we are with a faith life that takes us beyond all the struggles of this world. In fact, we are called to be joyful even in the struggles and sacrifices we endure in this world. This is how we witness to His power… God is good always!
In the Grand Annual (GA) letter of 2019 I referred to the Joy of knowing God’s blessings. Today I want to reiterate that and remind everyone that our lives as a Eucharistic people must witness this truth to the world. Again, I share the words of the prophet Zephaniah, “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival.” We are chosen and blessed with much.
With all this in mind, today we begin our annual grand collection. I realize the challenges and sacrifices already at work in everyone’s lives. But we are blessed with much and now we need to consider those blessings as part of this GA Collection.
One aspect of this collection that I did not initially understand is the essential role of this resource. I always thought of these types of collections were an augmentation to the primary resource… almost a luxury. However, this GA collection provides over a third of our daily operating budget. Even more important is the reality that the St. Mary GA collection has progressively dropped for several years now. Last year this grand annual collection was down $32,000 from our goal. Obviously, that is a lot. It is even more of a problem given the weekly offertory is experiencing an equally significant drop.
In order to mitigate this shortfall, over the last couple years we made significant cuts in personnel and deferred maintenance and improvements to our facilities. Now we must try to regain some of these resources. We can continue to get by with minimal staff but there are some areas that we must begin to resource. Some positions like Director of Evangelization/Pastoral Ministries, the Youth Outreach and full-time Religious Education Director roles and the construction of an Adoration Chapel are some primary requirements that we must begin to plan for now.
If you get to this point of reading this letter, I want to thank you for taking the time to open the envelop and then reading this narrative. Again, I do realize how challenging this issue can be for many during these strange times. Considering all this, I think my main message is gratitude. Thank you for being attentive and for taking time to consider the monetary concerns of your parish of St. Mary here in Winchester.
Please be generous and be assured no matter the size of your contribution, it all matters. This reminds me of the contribution our Lord Himself highlights in the Gospels…the poor widow who put into the treasury two small coins!
Peace, Fr. Paul K. Hurley