How many organizations would we say are known to be very successful? There are groups that sometimes serve the needs of people in beautiful ways, groups whose goal is to make money and groups that are well run and people want to work there. People give these groups the highest regard, and they see value in what they do. One should also be aware that such groups are in the business to ask for money, volunteers and support. I think most people would expect such asking from these important groups. Tactics are used to inspire people to give, and people from many walks of life give generously. Many surveys have shown us data that say Americans are the most generous people anywhere. This is such good news.
For some reason Catholics do not have this same positive outlook towards their own faith communities. A perception amongst a good percentage of Catholics is that the Church is always asking for money. Catholics become annoyed and maybe feel shamed into giving and feel forced to give. On the list of a number of surveys of religious givers, Catholics rank one of the lowest giving of any denomination. So this pastor’s letter is relaying what many in Church leadership know, that there can be a perception that there should not be a process that a Parish, no matter how successful, should not always be asking for money, support or even involvement. There is a fear among many clergy regarding “asking for money”.
It can feel like the secular world gets it, that to ask for money/support is expected, even if the cause does not have the purest of intention. People choose to give or not to give. The people who bear Christ’s name would rather not be bothered by being asked for money. This has been my personal experience from “Day 1” as a priest. Is there something wrong with this picture?
Fr. André Dargis, our biblical scholar, gives us numerous texts where Jesus and his followers needed the financial support of those they encountered. He needed resources to minister to His people. The scriptures give more than enough evidence of the need for Christians to be generous with what they have. So, for me as a Catholic priest, I will never be ashamed or be shamed by fellow Catholics when asking our parish family to give. The Catholic Church does more good worldwide than many groups, and it depends on the generosity of its people. Jesus has something in common with those in Church leadership. While on earth, He depended on the generosity of others and the leaders that served Him.
Next Sunday is Stewardship Sunday, and I hope the true response by many is not, “Oh no, another money talk,” but rather, “Yes, this parish family depends on the generosity of its people.”
Peace in Christ,