frmark_headshot_150x150From the Pastor…

Last weekend at all the Masses, I asked those present to make a heart-felt commitment to participate actively in the life of STM during the coming calendar year. This weekend, members of the STM Finance Council will echo my request.  I have also made this same appeal in writing this space a couple weeks ago, and in a letter that was mailed to all registered parishioners last week.  My hope is that this will be the end of this year’s appeal.

Throughout this appeal, I have requested of parishioners a three-fold commitment: to worship with the community during the coming year, to do community service, and to support the parish financially.

With regard to the requested commitment of financial support, simply put, we need it.

First, each of you knows that the cost of supporting yourselves and your families rises each year.  The same is true of your parish family.  We can control some of our costs, but not all.  For example, the contribution we are required to make to support the activities of the Archdiocese rose more than 25% this past year.  We need parishioners to respond generously simply to keep pace with rising costs.

Second, there are some new parish ministries and programs that we would like to do.  For example, we would like to begin to tithe for social justice, that is, to allocate 10% of our parish revenue to support organizations and programs that serve the poor and other needy.  This would be a new practice at STM, but I believe that the Gospel demands it.  We made a marvelous beginning this past year.  Thanks to the generosity of STM parishioners, last year we were able to give nearly $150,000 to six different social justice projects in Atlanta and around the world: paying a large part of the tuition for four students at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School; purchasing urgently needed medical equipment for the medical clinic in Haiti operated by ServeHaiti; putting a new roof on the orphanage run by the Missionaries of the Poor in Uganda; supporting the construction of two Habitat for Humanity houses in the Atlanta area; partnering with Catholic Charities to resettle a refugee family in Clarkston; and improving the security of the children studying at Loyola Wau Secondary School in war-torn South Sudan.  We want to continue – even expand – this practice, and we want to do it repeatedly, but we cannot without your increased financial support.

We want to continue to expand our faith formation programs for our youth and adults.  For example, we are developing a marriage preparation program that is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that we think will be unique in the Archdiocese, and we are expanding the reach of our RCIA program. We are exploring the possibility of sending our teens on an international service trip.  We cannot do any of these things without your increased financial support.

We want to stabilize and then expand our music ministry.  We cannot do this without your increased financial support.

We have just begun a formal master planning process to identify specific improvements to be made to parish buildings and facilities.  I hope to begin construction of the highest priority projects as early as the Fall of 2018.  The past generosity of STM parishioners has allowed previous pastors to set aside substantial funds for parish improvements.  We need to continue this prudent practice.  We cannot without your increased financial support.

We want to hire a staff person to identify and respond to parishioners in need quickly and effectively, to support parishioners who are already caring for their STM brothers and sisters through parish programs like MoreEats and the SFactor, and to grow our programs and activities designed to deepen our experience of community with one another, like our annual parish picnic and our athletic programs.  We cannot do this without your increased financial support.

Thanks to your generosity and the prudent oversight of our finances by our STM Finance Council, STM is financially sound.  We are doing great things for the Kingdom, but we can be exceptional in our care for one another within the parish and beyond.  God has given us much.  May we share what we have received as gift so that all might flourish as God intends.

Fr. Mark

P.S.  November is Jesuit Vocation Promotion Month.  I ask each of you to pray that many more young men will be moved to say yes to God who is surely calling them.  I ask parents to raise with your sons the possibility of service to the Church as a Jesuit priest or brother.  For more information about becoming a Jesuit, go to:   http://www.jesuitvocations.org/.