My Dear Friends:
Let me be completely transparent with all of you: two weeks ago, when I got up to preach the homily to launch our Parish’s Centennial Campaign was one of the most stressful things I have ever had to do in my priesthood. Starting a massive project like this is difficult, and, at least for this priest, asking for money from the pulpit is even more difficult. That time is sacred. It is meant for the preaching of the Living Word of God. I do it once a year in January out of obedience during the ABCD, but the rest of the year, those precious minutes during the Sunday homily are for breaking open God’s Word. So yes, it was a cross that I took up and embraced because in God’s loving plan he deigned that I be the pastor of this great parish as it crosses the threshold of its centennial. It was an exhausting week as we asked for pledges to come in and explain to parishioners the details behind all these projects.
But as I pray about that weekend, I had to ask myself: wasn’t I preaching the gospel? Father Andrew paid me a grand compliment when he randomly texted during that afternoon: “Your homily was very good. Didn’t feel like an appeal.” And I pray that is how most of you see this campaign. It is our way of preaching the gospel for those who will come after us. It is a witness. Our founders shared their witness by leaving us this grand church and school. Now it is our turn to witness those who will be sitting in our pews a century from now.
On October 1st, I asked you to take the pledge cards home and to pray about what type of sacrificial gift you will give to this campaign. What type of legacy will you leave behind?
It is time to start turning in those pledge cards and initial gifts because we have projects that we need to start right now and architects, contractors, organ builders, and a bunch of vendors that we have to pay to get everything underway if we want to have everything completed for our centennial. We need to start getting a better picture of where our campaign is going. We have a lot of verbal pledges, but not enough written pledges in our office. In fact, we only have about 50 pledge cards turned in. Work cannot commence in earnest until half the campaign has been pledged and funded.
So, I am calling on every parish family to continue to pray about this important commitment and to please turn in your pledge card by November 1st. It is time to make a commitment for the next three years. It can be a one-time gift, a yearly gift, monthly or weekly. And just a gentle reminder that this must be separate from your weekly offertory because the regular parish bills still need to be paid, and as all of you know, things are getting quite expensive these days. To give you an idea how this affects the parish, this past summer, our property and liability insurance doubled, and it was already quite substantial.
Yes, this is a sacrifice. Yes, this is a cross, but as I said in my homily two weeks ago: we must embrace it! I thank all the generous parishioners who have already made a commitment. I ask everyone to please share this exciting Centennial Campaign with school alumni who may live elsewhere, with former parishioners who may have moved to another corner of South Florida, or maybe, and this is bold, with a fellow Catholic who may have left the Church. Maybe this type of evangelical ambition gets them to rethink things and come back home to be part of this centennial celebration.
If we read the Acts of the Apostles, nothing the apostles did to spread the joy of the resurrection was done easily, yet they did it because their mission would change the world. We all received the mandate that they received to go make disciples of all nations. It requires action by all of us to make saints here in the parish both now and in the future. We start by turning in our pledge cards before All Saints Day.
Speaking of saints, today is October 15th which would normally be the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, and I will leave you with her wise words which should inspire as we pray about our contribution to the Centennial Campaign:
Christ has no body but yours,— St. Teresa of Ávila
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands,
with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
God bless you all,