First, my sincere thanks to everyone who responded to the Parish Assessment, your input and opinions are greatly appreciated and honored! Nearly 26% (380) of registered parishioners responded, which by all standards is a very good survey response. What was also encouraging was over 200 wrote comments. THANK YOU!
The next step will be a series of small group gatherings beginning in January to gather your thoughts about the Parish Assessment. As you know, the goal of this process is to develop a long-term plan for the Parish. The meetings will be coordinated by Pastoral Council members and the committee charged with the writing the long-term plan, with the goal of having it written by late Spring 2018. Staff members will not be present at these meetings in order to give parishioners the opportunity to speak freely.
My purpose today is mention some highlights of the Assessment. I believe it inappropriate for me to give a summary of the Assessment until it is reviewed by Pastoral Council, the working committee and most importantly by you, the parishioners. Here are a very limited number of results of a few questions:
- Am I fed spiritually here at the parish? All the time-28%, Most of the time-61.3%, Seldom-7.8%, Never-0.3%, Not sure-2.8.
- Are there opportunities for service or growth that appeal to me? All the time-28.1%, Most of the time-52%, Seldom 13.2%, Never-0.8%, Not sure-5.9%.
- Am I greeted warmly when I go to Church? All the time 72.4%, Most of the time-24.8%, Seldom-2.8%. This reflects the reputation of the Parish on hospitality.
- Do I enjoy attending Mass? Yes, most of the time-83%, Sometimes-14.2%, Rarely-2.5%, Not at all-0.3%. Thank God, yet room for improvement!
- Do I feel comfortable reaching out to parish leadership? Very comfortable-47.6%, Somewhat-38.9%, Not at all 10.1%, I do not know most of the Parish leadership-3.4%.
- Do I see the Parish as mine or theirs? Mine-83.3%, Theirs 16.8%. The Parish does belong to the people of the Parish; we need to work on the 16.8%.
I realize this is only 6 of the 34 questions, but these jumped out at me, they appear to be supportive, not that the other questions were not!
As I said earlier over 200 wrote comments and the general theme of the comments were affirming of the Parish, our activities and programs, and of the staff. There was one general theme that was mentioned in a variety of ways, relative to the decreasing number of people who attend Mass regularly. Please be assured this is major concern of mine, one that is shared by religious leader across all denominations. There are many schools of thought on why people do not attend on a regular basis, if at all. This is a major challenge that all of us need to deal with if religious values and a faith commitment are going to remain part of our society.
There were also a couple of comments I would like to address because the comments seemed to be written without correct or full information.
It was mentioned by 2 or 3 people that they found it unbelievable that we were still paying full medical benefits for all our employees. This is not true and in my 30 years of being a pastor I do not recall it ever being true. At present employees pay approximately 25% of the premium and 75% of the premium for the optional dental insurance. Presently 6 of 12 staff members have medical insurance with us.
A few people (3 or 4) mentioned the Mass schedule, not that there is ever a perfect one. The present Sunday schedule was set in 2007 by the Pastoral Council after a 6-month consultation process with parishioners. Part of the recommendation was to hold the second Sunday Mass at 11:30 AM to allow plenty of time for programs between Masses and in the summer move the second Mass to 11:00 AM when there are few activities between Masses. It was also questioned why the 7:00 PM was moved to 5:00 PM on holy days. This was suggested by several people and discussed by the Pastoral Council; attendance has increased slightly. The primary reason for the move was to accommodate folks on their way home from work.
Finally, finances, not sure this is a compliment or something else. In any case, there was actually several comments that we should talk more often about money often from the pulpit. This will need lots of discussion with the Finance Council.
In closing, I want to THANK everyone who participating by filling out the PARISH ASSESSMENT and I look forward to your participation in the small group gatherings which will begin in January.
Let us continue to pray for a more peaceful world!
In peace and courage,