From the Pastor: It’s That Time, Again!
February is always parodied as a dark month. The skies are grey, the snow is grey, emotions are grey... But here in Florida, none of that, at least this year, rings true. But, just for the sake of bringing a little grey-ness to those of you who so miss the depressingly long, dreary grey Februarys of your northern memories, this week I bring you...wait for it...the diocesan Annual Pastoral Appeal. Yay, I mean, groan, it must be February.
Those of you who are registered have already received a letter ostensibly written and signed by me, your pastor, welcoming you to experience the joys of giving to the APA, of donating to the diocese to pay for those things which cannot be done without help from each parish, and, hopefully, from each parishioner. I have no doubt that, if you read my bulletin articles even every once in a while, you can tell that the letter which came in the mail was not composed by me. It is a form letter, sent out to all registered parishioners in the diocese, in the name of their own pastor. “But Father, but Father! Didn’t we just get an APA letter from you last year?” Yes, you did. I am amazed by how many people don’t know the meaning of “annual” in the APA title! (See, that’s the kind of stuff I would write.) The expenses of the diocese and her many activities, just like those of the parish (or those of your own house), rarely go down. They rarely stay the same. They almost always go up. Sometimes they go waaaaayyyyy up!
This year we have a new bishop. The diocesan expenses and the APA were already worked out on paper in numerous budget meetings long before he arrived here. He has promised to look into the finances of the diocese (he has a financial background of sorts, having worked at a bank before entering the seminary) and see if there is any “dead wood” that can be eliminated, but as it stands, this year will be “business as usual” since he knows next to nothing about the who, what and wheres of the APA recipients. Which brings us to our share of this necessary source of diocesan income.
First of all, please know that I truly appreciate all of you who donated to our APA last year, and the year before that, and even the years before I arrived. Epiphany parish has a long history of meeting its APA goal, saving the parish from having to take money from the collection to send to the diocese, as some parishes must do. You long-term parishioners blessed Fr. Tuoc every year when he appealed to your generosity. You, both long-termers and newcomers, have blessed me when I, too, made the appeal for the Appeal. Thank you very much. Now I am going to make a bigger appeal for a much larger Appeal. How large is our increase? I thought you might ask. When I came here a year and a half ago, bringing what the former bishop described as “those few people who have been attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form” to join with “the small remaining remnant of territorial parishioners”, the collections increased but our APA goal went down slightly, from $12,674 to $12192! (It was discovered that they were including non-APA-able monies as if it was our collection money.) But now you “few” have been here for long enough that a full year of your donations have been included in our (hopefully accurate) APA formulation and now, as a percentage and as a dollar amount, our APA increase is youge. This was not unexpected, as the APA is based on the prior year’s collection. But, “not unexpected” does not equal, “not a big deal.” This year our goal (and when I write, “goal”, that means that that is what the diocese will either get from us or take from us, for they make sure that each parish meets their “goal” even if it means taking out a loan) is $42,058! Though I gasped when I first saw the figure, especially since we only raised just under $29,000 for APA last year, I have to believe that you will continue in your generosity toward this appeal. This year I have to ask that everyone give to APA, not just those who have given in the past. Please don’t let a few of your fellow parishioners take on the whole burden by themselves. (Are you still registered elsewhere but attend Epiphany? You can/should still give to our APA.) Officially, we have 247 families registered (which is strange, since only 300 people attend the 3 Sunday Masses combined), yet only 47 families contributed to last year’s APA. To the 47 I say again, “Thank You!” and to the other 200 families, this additional appeal is directed specifically to you: Will you please help us make our APA goal? Donation cards are available on the table near the main church doors if you threw your mailing in the trash.Thank you in advance for your generosity.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka