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The Annual Bishop's Appeal video that we are watching this weekend allows us to see some of the fruits that our faithful life as a church is bearing in our diocese.  In the video, we get to see where our contributions can go, and what support we offer to what the diocese does on a larger level.  This is course can only be a glimpse of what the Lord is doing, so allow me to explain some of the other ways that the Bishop's Appeal helps and supports the mission of the church both local and universal.  

The largest expense of the diocese is the education of our seminarians.  Our diocese is blessed with a good kind of "vocations crisis": even while being selective of men who are truly quality, we have many good men seeking the Lord's call to the priesthood, and that puts a financial burden on the diocese and thus the parishes.  The second largest expense would be the salary and (always climbing) benefit costs of diocesan employees who serve to cover the business side of all the parishes and Catholic schools of the diocese, as well as the other diocesan ministries such as religious education, evangelization, liturgy, people with special needs, and social outreach.  Priests in retirement would be another important expense, though they are not many, and our retirement plans are not sufficient in themselves so I hear.  (My intention is to be a nice old priest that a young pastor wants to have as a housemate and a small help in the parish!)

Bishop has every year re-evaluated the entire diocesan budget with his finance committee (including many experts in the diocese who volunteer their time) so that our funds are used well without waste. Also worthy of note is the bishop's salary, for he receives the same amount as any pastor of the diocese and that certainly is far from exuberant, but sustainable if we are living for the next world and not for this one, as Jesus calls us to do.

Although this "money talk" can be uncomfortable for us, Jesus himself talks about it more than once, so it should not be ignored.  Good stewardship is the message of today's Gospel where Jesus reminds us to serve God and not "stuff."  We can trust that the Bishop and his staff remain good stewards of diocesan funds.  The parish has been good stewards of our funds as well, hence the good financial position of our parish as we now head into year two of our Small Things with Great Love funding drive to set up our parish for years to come.  Let us pray that each of us individually can be good stewards of the Lord's gifts to us.

And don't forget, next Sunday we are celebrating our patroness!  Please pray the novena to prepare for the feast day (officially October 1st).

Saint Thérèse, the little flower, pray for us!

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