Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
An occasional experience, though not very common in my life but more common for me in my years as a pastor than ever before, is receiving an interview request. Each time one comes, I confess that I get excited. Only people writing for our Diocesan newspaper ever want to interview me – I’m not that interesting – but that does not make the request less entertaining for me. And so it was that I was asked to give an interview to the Fairfield County Catholic this week. The subject matter, frankly, surprised me. I was asked to speak about the Annual Catholic Appeal and our success at St. Pius. I thought, “Why have an interview? Here’s the whole story: the people at St. Pius are incredibly generous and they responded to the ACA with the generosity with which they respond to everything. The end.”But no, an interview was necessary. At the risk of sounding lazy, I realized that I would have to say that I had done nothing. The simple fact is that in a quarantined world, paying attention to the ACA was my least concern, and I gave almost no time at all to promoting it, talking about it, or thinking about it. As you know, the Annual Catholic Appeal helps the Church in Fairfield County put our faith into action in charitable service and pastoral ministry. The ACA helps feed the hungry, provide counseling to people in need, funds the education of our seminarians, supports Catholic education, and provides resources for people throughout the area who find themselves in want. It is always a worthy effort, but one which, this year, I said very little about. My relative silence did not dissuade you, though! In the form of 326 gifts, our parish raised $238,166, which is 111% of our total fundraising goal. I did nothing; you did everything. This is an incredibly generous parish. The end.
All that is a long preamble to say thank you. Thank you for your generosity to so many different efforts and needs, for your kind concern for our parish, our diocese, and our community. Whether the weekly offertory (increased online giving and your constant fidelity has helped us navigate uncertain financial times in the pandemic with real strength!), our ongoing food drive for area shelters and pantries (your regular gifts of food and supplies have been a beautiful gesture of support from our parish to those most in need!), the Christmas Giving Tree and Box of Joy efforts (we will impact many lives this Christmas because of you!), or the Annual Catholic Appeal, you respond with generosity to every need as it comes. Thank you! While I praise your generosity, I hope you will forgive me a moment’s selfishness. Financial matters are not my forte, and parish finances, especially in relation to the Diocese, are more stressful for me than they should be or might be for other pastors. Selfishly, because you have given so generously to the ACA, I have one less stressful thing on my plate. So thank you also for relieving me of worry!
To end on a more positive (and less selfish) note: the gift of your stewardship in time, talent, and treasure is much more than numbers. It is an inspiration. When I see your generosity, I am inspired in turn to generosity. You remind me of why I am a priest, why I am a pastor, and of all the reasons I have to be grateful to God. Your generosity challenges me, in the best possible way, to be a better servant to this community. Thank you for providing me with that inspiration. Thank you also for the many gestures and words of support in this last month. To be the beneficiary of such support is a tremendous gift and I can never adequately express what a beautiful thing it is to receive such goodness. There are many reasons why I am not often asked to give interviews. Fortunately, this week’s interview really had nothing to do with me and everything to do with you. And you are easy to brag about, easy to hold up as an example, easy to recognize as a true model of parish life!