Pastor’s Letter Concerning Parish Stewardship: Time, Talents, Treasure

Dear Parishioners of HNJ Parish,

My Pastor’s Report for the 2021/2022 Parish Fiscal Year was included in our Bulletin for December 4, 2022. Near the end of that report, I indicated that I would be communicating with you in January of 2023 about the Brooklyn Diocese’s ongoing Stewardship Program, which is the subject of this letter.

Stated briefly, Catholic Stewardship involves the proper care and use of God’s gifts to us to help us fulfill our responsibilities as Catholic followers of Jesus Christ. Stewardship is often discussed in the context of our use of God’s gifts of time, talents and treasure. The Stewardship program is essentially an effort to ask parishioners to use their God-given gifts to provide more help to their parishes. This is especially important now as we continue to struggle to recover from the lingering effects of the Pandemic.

Concerning time: We are all well-aware of the increasing demands on our time to meet family and work responsibilities. However, as we begin 2023, can we ask ourselves: Could we all benefit by devoting more time to improving our relationship with Jesus Christ, His sacraments, His Church? Could we be more faithful to attending Mass (including worthy reception of the Eucharist), especially on Sundays and possibly more frequently on weekdays? Could we devote more time to prayer, especially prayer before the Eucharist during this time of Eucharistic Revival? Average Sunday Mass attendance remains at barely 300, as opposed to nearly 600 before the Pandemic. We need to increase in-person attendance at Sunday Mass.

Concerning talents: Could there be increased volunteer participation in our many parish ministries (again recognizing the realities of busy lives)? We can use your help. Ministries and activities such as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Lector, Religious Education Catechist/Assistant Catechist, Environmental Committee (Church cleaning and decorating), Food Pantry, English and Spanish choirs, Youth Programs (Fathers Guild Sports, Scouting), etc., have all lost volunteers in recent years. The time commitments are variable and take into account personal schedules. Please contact the Parish Office so that we can provide you with additional information.

Concerning treasure: For most of the Pandemic months and years, our parish weekly collections were only moderately reduced despite the decline in Mass attendance. Online giving via Faith Direct and generous use of the “Catch Up” envelopes were big helps. Unfortunately, this situation is changing. In recent months we have been experiencing larger, more persistent decreases in our First and Second weekend Mass collections, the results of which are reported in the weekly bulletin. From September of 2021 through November of 2022, the number of parishioners using Faith Direct declined significantly from 112 to 97. As those familiar with parish finances know well, the weekly collections are our main funding sources for our operating expenses (salaries and benefits, utilities, ordinary repairs and maintenance, etc.). Several of the larger donors who helped us so faithfully for years are no longer with us. We understand how difficult individual circumstances can be; but, if you can, please try to meet our suggested weekly donation goal of $25 ($20 First Collection, $5 Second Collection). Use of Faith Direct or Parish Envelopes would be a big plus.

Thank you for your faith, your generosity and your support of HNJ Parish and me. Please help keep our wonderful parish a vibrant Catholic center for sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Larry Ryan