From the Pastor: APA News and New APA
Last year’s Annual Pastoral Appeal (which, I hope you know, is the annual diocesan collection from each parish which is used to pay the bills for the Diocese of St. Petersburg) is now finished. I thank all of you who contributed. Due to a last minute rush of contributions, including one rather large one (again, thank you very much!), we went from only being at 55% of our goal in November to achieving 88% by the time the 2018 APA ended. We finished short of our $50,105.00 by $6,055. As I was going through the numbers and looking over the last three years of APA statistics, I was left scratching my head. In August of 2015 Epiphany had new life breathed into her with an influx of parishioners who came specifically for the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments in the venerable ancient rites. The following year our 2016 APA assessment (which is based on the previous fiscal year’s parish income and we had only been here half a calendar year, bringing an increased offertory but not affecting the fiscal year’s offertory) was $12,192 and 47 families contributed. Needless to say, we easily went over our assessment. The next year, 2017, APA went up to $42,058 and 69 families contributed to the cause. The increase in APA was easily accounted for by the new members having been at Epiphany for a full fiscal year by the time the assessment was set, and the collections were obviously much higher with nearly 300 new people attending each Sunday, plus other parishes in the Diocese doing more poorly than the previous year. Needless to say, though, we again went over the assessment. Then last year’s assessment, for 2018, was based on our second full year of contributions and, while our collection was basically the same as the previous full year, so many parishes in the Diocese have had decreases in both parishioners and collections that our portion of the total APA was higher than the year before rather than remaining the same as it would be if it were calculated by a simple percentage of income. (in case you were wondering, the Diocese total assessment goals for all parishes combined for those years was $11,655,123 for 2016, $11,842,751 for 2017 and $11,850,000 for 2018) We increased, as mentioned above, to $50,105. Our Sunday attendance has been slightly higher this past year yet our “contributing to APA” numbers have decreased. Let me show you the official numbers for the past three years. (Note: these are not tithing numbers; this is for APA only.)
2016: 246 registered families; 47 contributed an average of $623
2017: 270 registered families; 69 contributed an average of $735
2018: 269 registered families; 50 contributed an average of $630
Now, the number of registered families is a mystery number. We have been seeing total Sunday attendance for our three Masses of about 320, plus or minus, for quite some time, meaning that our average Epiphany family has fewer than two persons if these numbers are correct. Regardless, however that number is arrived at, it seems certain that we have more than the 47, 50 or even 69 families which contributed to APA during any one year. In 2019 we currently have 273 families registered. If each were to give the average donation to APA of the last three years ($663) we would collect $180,999 by the time we were done!
In case your eyes were not already rolled back into the top of your head as you sit there with your mouth open making moaning sounds so that the TV-influenced children think that you are one of the undead zombies they watch incessantly, I will continue with more numbers to get you to that stage. This year the Diocese will be collecting a total of $11,849,890 from all the parishes and missions. Epiphany’s contribution to that will be $41,608. So why did our portion of APA decrease? As near as I can tell there are two main reasons. First, our weekly contributions were down last fiscal year. People contribute less or cease giving altogether if they get mad at the pastor or the Bishop(s) or the Pope. We all gave you plenty to be mad about in recent years! People also sometimes give less if their income goes down while living expenses go up, which is the opposite of what they do to the electric or cable company. But for whatever reason, it is what it is. Second, with increasing scrutiny of our financial books and us understanding better how the Diocese expects us to book income and expenses, we were able to find and properly record income that should never have been APA’d in the first place but had been in years gone by. Plus, increased scrutiny might have conversely uncovered where other parishes were “hiding” money from APA, but that is merely my speculation!
In case you are looking at words such as “contribution” or “goal” or “assessment” and wondering what happens if we don’t meet it, I have good news for you. The Church Fairy waves her magic wand and, with a poof of fairy dust and a cloud of cheerfully colored, non-cancer-causing smoke, the debt disappears and we don’t have to pay it! Wait a minute. I think I must have dozed off for a bit. That was just a dream. A nice one, but still... No, we have to pay it out of the account holding the overage from the previous bountiful years.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka