CSA Homily Feb. 15, 2015

The Powerball on Wednesday was 500 and some Million Dollars.  I was truly hoping that as a result of that I wouldn't have to give this talk today  - but unless anyone here bought their ticket in Puerto Rico, so much for that. 


The time has come once again for the Annual Diocesan Catholic Services Appeal.   As we all know, money makes the world go round.  So once a year I get to talk about money - not because I want to, but because we all need to hear it.


Often times we can be told as Catholics, 'why doesn't the Church sell everything' why doesn't the pope sell all the churches, all the artwork, and everything she has and give it to the poor.  Wonderful.  Let's do it, and we can all go home.  Problem is it's not that easy. 

          We could sell everything tomorrow.  But then what happens the next day? and the day after?  Like it or not, without money we cannot minister to anyone.  Read your Faith magazine this month - all the ways the Diocese serves the people of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  Without money, the diocese would not be able to sponsor homeless shelters and soup kitchens, or counsel families or people in distress, without money there are no Catholic schools or nursing homes or hospital chaplains, there are no ministries to those suffering from divorce, there is no religious education for our children, there is no voice proclaiming the truth of the Gospel loudly in our nation, there are no priests or deacons or women religious, and most of all for those in trouble - economic, spiritual, mental, physical - the Diocese makes ministry to those most in need possible in a way we simply cannot do as an individual parish - like our psalm says today, I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, the CSA makes it possible for so many to know that the Lord is with them in so many different ways - and so we cannot simply dismiss it. 


Without money, here at St. Bart's we would not be able to keep the lights on, or pay the heating bill, or help the poor when they come to our door, or minister to families after a funeral, or foster fellowship and community in our parish family, or have music at Mass, or even have a place to have Mass. The ministry we do here, both within our Parish and our Parish reaching out to others - Our offertory every week and the CSA once a year make that possible.  Without it, we do not exist.  Without it, we fail to carry on the command of Christ to spread the Gospel and minister to those most in need. 

          To make that all possible, our faith demands that yes we support the Diocese, and yes we contribute to the good of this Parish - for the Diocese does not exist without her parishes, and this parish does not exist without the Diocese.  This year, the amount we owe to the Diocese is $51,338.  And yes, we will pay it.  But as is just, if we are going to give the Diocese that much to continue the much needed ministries that they make possible - so too we should raise that much here at St. Bart's to make our activities and ministries possible as well.  


          And so our total goal for this year is $103,000.  And yes, we need to hit that mark.  You will all receive a letter in the mail from me this week outlining our plans for this years CSA - those plans include replacing the sound system here in Church with money left from last year and a little from this year - and yes its about a $20,000 venture - but we need it.  Additionally this year we are going to focus on the ParishCenter.  We have made so much progress over there in the last year and half - it's incredible.  But now comes the push to do even more - to put in a new floor, to redo the bathrooms, to clean up and paint the classrooms, and to install a drop ceiling in the old gym to help with the heating situation and to address the need for sound control over there.  All of these things will enhance our experience of the building, and will make it much much much more appealing and rentable to others - which will again help to generate some much needed income, but most of all it is to exercise a responsible stewardship of the heritage of this parish that your parents and grandparents passed on to us.  They built it - we need to take care of it. 


          $103,000 is a lot of money.  It's a heck of a lot.  But it is needed - here and in the Diocese.  Last year some 230 families participated in the CSA - and we contributed some $85,000 to the cause.  While that is great - it still means that some 363 families at our parish  contributed absolutely nothing.  If you are unable to give - don't worry about it. 


          But we do need everyone to give if they can - honest to God even $1 a month helps.  But for most of us - I am asking us to consider the same as I asked last year - consider giving $40 a month for 10 months.  If you can give more, please do.  And I truly do believe that every family can give something.  Is it a sacrifice? Yes it is.  Is this place worth it? I believe it is - and I know that you do too. 

          None of these goals is possible without you.  Take it to prayer - seriously, pray about this with your family this week.  That's why I don't have you fill out a pledge envelope here in the Church with a little pencil, because despite what some may have us believe - nothing serious is ever done with a golf pencil.  You'll get that letter and pledge envelope in the mail this week.  Fill it out and bring it back to throw in the collection. 


           People in this Diocese - people we will never know, people we will never meet - are relying on all of us to help keep much needed ministries and services available - this Parish is relying on all of us, to make it possible to pass on to the next generation of St. Bartholomew's - A Church better, stronger, and more active than the one we have received.  That only happens through the participation of all of us - including financial participation.  Let's do what we can for the good of this holy place.  God help us all.  +  


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