Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Parish Finances at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Sauk Centre, Minnesota

If you're reading this, and you go to Our Lady of the Angels, St. Paul's, or St. Alexius in the Sauk Centre/West Union area: odds are I'm 'preaching to the choir.' We've got some very active, very dedicated folks in these three parishes.

Looking at how many give how much to the Our Lady of the Angels parish, I'd say almost one out of four Catholics are on fire - or brightly glowing, at any rate. That's the good news.
I'm writing about money again. Sure, it doesn't seem 'spiritual:' but bills have to be paid - and money is an important indicator of what people think is important.

"Put your money where your mouth is" got to be a common phrase, back when, for a reason.

Parish Finances - You've Heard This Before

I wrote about what's happening in the three area parishes about a week ago (May 23, 2010)

The bottom line - literally - of a fact sheet about Our Lady of the Angels Church, Sauk Centre, is this:
"...If each of the 452 envelope holders gave an average of $20.00 to $25.00 per week we could meet all of our expenses and be able to pay for future maintenance nad upkeep for the Church and the Rectory."
As it is, here's how those 452 envelope holders in this parish are giving:

96 Gave nothing to the Church this past year22%
61 Gave $100.00 or less for the year13%
110 Gave $100.01 to $500.00 for the year24%
82 Gave $500.01 to $1000.00 for the year18%
103 Gave $1,000.01 or more for the year23%

That's from last week, too.

As it stands, a few people are giving to the parish - a lot in some cases.

Over one in five are giving nothing - nada - zilch - zip. Okay: some folks can't give anything. My household's had bad years - it happens.

But 22%? I've been getting out more lately - and I have trouble believing that almost a quarter of the folks in this town are that hard up. The stores would be suffering - I could rant about recreational vehicles, but why bother? There's nothing wrong with having money, and spending some of it on fun.

Provided obligations are met.

That includes supporting the parish.

I can understand someone deciding not to be a Catholic - I wouldn't advise it, but I can understand.

But being part of the community - on paper - and giving nothing to support the parish? Or less than $100 a year?? In America??? Even in central Minnesota, a hundred dollars isn't all that much money: about what you'd pay for a two-burner gas grill, 14 movie tickets, or a low-to-mid-range microwave oven.

Over a third - 34% - of Our Lady of the Angels envelope holders are giving $100 or less each year.

Yes, It Matters

Summer is always a 'slow' time for church giving - but it's a very big deal this year. The St. Cloud diocese is taking a long, hard, look at parishes - and how to stretch available resources over the Catholics in this area.

Here's what showed up in this week's church bulletin, under Community News:
"News from Bishop John Kinney
"On May 21, 2010 Bishop Kinney shared his thoughts about our response to the question, 'How do you feel the Parishes of the Sauk Centre Area can best be served in the future?' Bishop Kinney expressed his appreciation for the hard work that went into the planning process and informs us that he will accept the status quo for now but there is no guarantee that the three parishes will continue to have two pastors in the future. He states, 'To that end, please know that these three parishes will enter into a planning process with other area parishes in January 2012 to again address how they may best be served after June 2013.' He further adds.. 'I do give permission for the parish to move toward providing handicap accessibility to the Church of St. Paul.' "

Sauk Centre Population and Economics

I did a little checking at the U. S. Census Bureau website. About 3,930 people lived Sauk Centre, as of 2000. Median household income was $37,644, medan per capita income was $18,390 (1999 dollars) We've got poverty here: 2.3% of families, 5.2% of individuals in Sauk Centre have below-poverty-level incomes. (U.S. average is 9.2% and 12.4%, respectively - we're not doing too badly.)

What's "poverty" depends on household size. For one person, it's a yearly income of around $8,500 or lower. (More at "Poverty: 1999" Census 2000 Brief, Alemayehu Bishaw and John Iceland (Issued May 2003))

What's the Point?

Decades ago, I heard someone say that "enough" is about 20% more than whatever you have. He had a point. I doubt that many folks really 'feel' well-off. Some of us bemoan the price of hamburger, others how hard it is to find affordable parts for our second sports car.

Here in Sauk Centre, though: even with the miserable economic situation - we really aren't that badly off. I don't think so, anyway. Either that, or the folks ahead of me in the grocery checkout were spending money they didn't have. Which could be true, I suppose.

Still, I think that most folks living in this town can afford that $20 to $25 a week it would take to keep the Our Lady of the Angels parish going.

Aha! But what does that come to each year? I did a little multiplication, and that $20 to $25 a week works out to about $1,042 to $1,303 a year. That's not chicken feed - unless you've got a poultry farm - but the numbers strike me as affordable.

I sincerely hope that 349 of those 452 envelope holders decide that they think so, too.

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