I am excited about all the wonderful things happening at Saint Stephen the Martyr (SSM) parish, and would like to provide you with an update on several key items that I have shared with you over the past several months:
· I am happy to report that we have commitments of nearly $200,000 toward my year-end appeal to raise $500,000 to help fund several much-needed facility maintenance projects, and to help offset our large projected shortfall to the budget for this fiscal year.
A couple of quick reminders to you as we pursue our donation goals. If you have a required minimum distribution from your retirement account that you need to make before yearend, please consider making it as a direct charitable contribution to SSM. This method has a tax advantage to you while also benefiting our yearend appeal. Also, please consider utilizing your employer’s matching gift program to enhance any donation you make to SSM. We can accommodate any donations that need to be made directly to our SSM school to qualify for matching programs, which is a provision we often see in matching programs. If you have maxed out on your 2018 matching contributions, please consider utilizing your 2019 matching contributions in January to assist in still making our yearend giving goals. If you have any questions, please contact our parish business office.
· We have received Sunday stewardship commitment cards from around 600 parishioners to date. These responses reflect increased stewardship in line with the 10-15% level that I requested, however, this only represents a little over one-half of the commitment cards we received last year. If you have not yet done so, I would please ask that you complete your Sunday stewardship commitment card at your earliest convenience as this provides us with the necessary information to help plan our finances for the next fiscal year.
I thank you for your generosity to date. I ask that you continue to pray about what level of time, talent, and treasure you can provide SSM as we head into the Christmas season and new year.
· Our year-end appeal has provided significant funds designated towards our rectory repairs. In fact, replacement of the rectory HVAC system is scheduled for next week, and we are working on several other much-needed repairs at the rectory. We have one volunteer parishioner who is playing a critical planning role in moving this project forward.
· The Gonderinger Parish Center (GPC) work is under planning and we expect the work to be done in the early spring as funds become available from our year-end appeal. I am happy to report that the initial phase of the project (the removal of the trees around the GPC) is scheduled to be done next week, weather permitting.
· The stained-glass window repair and the replacement of the protective glass in the daily mass chapel began this week with the completion expected to be done before Christmas. To date, the funds for this much-needed project have not been fully secured, however, we needed to move forward on this to protect the beauty and value of the stained-glass windows. We have two parishioners who have stepped in and volunteered their time and materials to help get this project done timely.
· Last week I attended the kickoff planning meeting for our annual parish social and fund-raising event scheduled for this spring (Martyr Madness). This is a volunteer-led initiative, and I was very pleased with the energy and enthusiasm this group promises to bring to this year’s event. The actions they are undertaking will bring new life and some exciting changes for attendees at one of our major fund-raising events. I encourage you to volunteer and participate in this event if you are able as this is a great opportunity for you to bond with your fellow parishioners, while also helping deliver a successful event for the parish.
In closing, I am very grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from my recent appeals – not just the financial support, but the excitement I am seeing in parishioners stepping forth to volunteer their time and talents to assist where needed. This type of Catholic spirit is what makes SSM a truly blessed and special place to worship God.
God Bless you! I pray you have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.
Yours in Christ,
Father David Belt