From the Pastor: Are You Registered?
As part of what our building committee is doing to prepare a proposal for our new church, we have had to check on the number of registered parishioners. After all, we are trying to show the bishop that we need a larger, not just a more beautiful, church and that we need a larger, not just a newer, social hall. It is true that we do count the numbers of people in the pew every week so we have those statistics showing our growth, but when it comes to parish registration, which is generally a sign that the person or family plans to remain with the parish, not just visit it when convenient, we are not showing quite so much growth. The diocese showed that in 2015 we had 261 families registered at Epiphany. That is a very strange number, considering that they also showed the Mass count at 87 people in attendance for the Saturday Vigil and Sunday Masses combined! But as of 2021 the diocese only lists us as having 449 registered parishioners even though last weekend we once again broke the 800 person mark for Mass attendance. I have to scratch my head at these numbers and wonder if they really have any meaning since they show that in 2015, even if each registered family consisted of only a single person, 174 families didn’t show up each Sunday. The newest numbers seem to show that, assuming most who are registered actually do show up each Sunday, our families average less than two people, a statistic I find hard to fathom. As meaningless as these stats seem to be, they also show, on paper anyway, that we have only doubled the number of registered families in the past five years while at the same time adding about 700 more people to the congregation each Sunday.
So why am I writing about this when I am pointing out that the numbers don’t add up? Because I wish they did! I know that there are people who, for very good reasons, remain registered at a former parish. I have spoken with a number of you over the years and agree that there are times when that should be the case. But I imagine that there are many times more people who just never got around to registering as a family or as an individual, not knowing any particular reason why they should. Many probably think that since they contribute, they are automatically registered, which is not the case. Others have just never thought about it at all. And, while I normally don’t really care about how many people are “on paper” as opposed to in the pew, for the sake of our proposal going to the bishop it certainly will not hurt to have as many people registered as actually consider themselves members of Epiphany! Will it be a statistic that makes or breaks the proposal for a new church? I doubt it very much. But we need to show the reality to the bishop that we truly are a growing parish, that people are not just popping in to see a “show” and will go back to their old parish when the newness wears off. So this weekend you will find parish registration papers just about everywhere: in the back of the church, in the social hall, and in the restrooms (ok, maybe not there). Please fill one out if you have not registered. If you are unsure if you are registered, just fill it out and put a note on top to that effect. If you have changed addresses, email, phone numbers, marital status, or number of children since you registered, this is a great time to update that information. Simply fill out the form and leave it this week, bring in the completed form to the office during the week, or place it in the basket next Sunday.
Other things that the building committee members are spearheading include the following:
— The land survey is still being done. Stakes and pink ribbons mark various things all over the place. The survey is not only going to show exact property lines but also the number and type of trees, the land elevation differences, and maybe other stuff of which I am not aware but which will be needed before we can obtain permission and permits to build.
— A “wealth survey” is underway, studying how much money it is realistic to expect that we can raise from our congregation and from other outside donors. How they get all the information is as much a mystery to me as the already-mentioned parish registration statistics. But it is scary how much public information is available that they are able to mine for this purpose.
— Preliminary diagrams of the new church have been printed, revised, revised again, re-re-re-revised, and will continue to be revised as we dream about sizes, shapes, heights, and placement of various necessities of the building (and a few desirable extras as well).
— Marketing ideas and other such things are also on the agenda as we look to “sell” the project to the general public and possible outside donors.
— Other various and sundry details are being hashed out, looked into, brainstormed, and generally tossed around as we try to make certain that all of this is being done for the glory of God, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of souls.
I ask your continued prayers for our parish and for our building committee members as well as for our bishop, who needs to see the value in what we are doing and why we are doing it.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka