A Faith Community

Second Homily

Dear Parish Family of St. Thomas of Villanova,

As we continue in this month of October, we are reminded to Respect Life in all of its stages from conception to death. We are called to live each moment of life in the loving, respectful and faithful ways of the Lord. No matter how young or old, we are living Life with the Lord. I would like to share with you some thoughts on Life from our Holy Father, Pope Francis:

“ All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways to thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictate d by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure and not by love, by concern for the good of others. ... As a result, the living God is replaced by fleeting human id ols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

The Fall also brings our Annual Pumpkin Donation Patch—picked and staffed by our Teen Group—VOICES. Today, you can pick up a pumpkin for your home. Your monetary donation supports our ministry to the High School teens. And why not take one to a sick or homebound, or elderly neighbor? It is Respect Life Month. After all, I heard the Great Pumpkin and the Little Pumpkin will be there watching you!  

It is that time of the year again. It is the time for us to be accountable to each other in good stewardship. Today’s bulletin contains all of the financial facts and figures of your lo ve for God and St. Thomas of Villanova Parish Family. I have asked members of our Parish Finance Committee to speak at all of today’s Masses regarding our 2014 Fiscal Year Report (7/1/13—6/30-14). As you can see, it was a good year for St. Thomas of Villanova Parish as our income revenues increased and our Parish expenses decreased. We met and frequently exceeded our weekly Sunday Sacrificial Giving need—in spite of the difficult winter impact on heating and snow removal.

Recently, our Parish Pastoral Council had their annual Da y of Prayer and Reflection. Only this time, the Day included our Pastoral Staff, our Finance Committee, our School Board as well as the membership of the Parish Pastoral Council. It was a powerful but simple, quiet Day of Prayer and Reflection. One of the presentations was a panel of representatives from each of the four committees to reflect on their role of Ministry and leadership on behalf of St. Thomas of Villanova Parish. Since we are presenting our fiscal year end report today, I would like to share with all of you A nn Johnson’s panel presentation. (Ann is a member of our Finance Committee and, today, she spoke at the 1:30pm Mass.) Her presentation is an excellent story of the what and the how of the Finance Committee.

How does your work within your ministry impact your faith life?

I gave some thought to the phrase “work within my ministry”. Work can have a negative connotation but I consider work as a place that I really look forward to going to. I realized that, a number of years ago, when my friend, Cathy Edbrooke, approached me regarding my interest in joining the Finance Committee. She said that Father Tom chooses those to “work” on the parish finances. I knew I couldn’t possibly say no to Father Tom and that I never considered this ministry as “work” as I love working with numbers so this ministry has been a blessing to me.

Each of us on the Finance Committee have been given a specific ministry or ministries to represent. I personally have been assigned to the Youth Ministry Program to oversee how close Jeff, our Youth Minister, is to his budget. I meet with him to discuss his financial needs for the next fiscal year and to discuss his variances in his actual spending to the budget amounts. Jeff makes me smile. At our monthly meetings I share with all members of the Finance Committee the reasons for any variances in the spending.

At these meetings, I also hear how all the other ministries are doing and obtain a wonderful financial picture of our parish. We discuss the pros and cons of any additional requests that are made that were not included in our original budget and then share our recommendations with Father Tom. I have helped prepare the annual report that is presented to the entire parish and is printed in our bulletin. I also have to speak at a Mass to share our financial picture. Knowing how torturous talking about money can be to some parishioners, I am always amazed at the number of people who will come up to me and say what a good job I did. They make me smile.

How have these experiences impacted my faith life?

I know that God has given me special talents and that my love of numbers has lead me to accept Father Tom’s offer. Exposure to the income and expenses of our parish has given me a true under- standing of how much is needed to run a parish and the ways to meet those goals.

I am always truly amazed at the generosity of our parishioners. Just a year or two ago, a parishioner came forward to offer a large sum of money because we were below our Sunday Sacrificial Giving budget and then encouraged other parishioners to contribute even at a time when so many were struggling just to make ends meet. I was in awe as to the outpouring of support the Parish received. My faith was renewed by the fact that there are so many wonderful people in our Parish, in our community, that are here to help one another. My faith is strengthened because of my fellow finance members. They are kind and courteous and supportive. They are non-judgmental and enrich my life through their friendship, their knowledge and their dedication. I thank you Lord for all my blessings. Oh, working on the Finance Committee ministry also makes me smile.

I would like to publicly thank our Parish Finance Committee who meet with me monthly to review our Parish expenditures and financial budget. Special thanks to Chairperson Cathy Edbrooke who monitors the money and us. Thanks to the dedicated committee members of John Harahan, Ann Johnson, Ron Jozwiak, Ron Schaefer, Ron Tragasz, Carol Wilson, Fr. Wojciech and myself.

Even though it was a very good year, we cannot rest on our laurels or our wallets. If you take a peek today at our current Sunday Sacrificial Giving box, you will notice that those ugly, red negative numbers have reappeared. We ask all to prayerfully consider their Sunday gift to God and if at all possible, to consider an increase in your stewardship giving.

It is because of your own faith commitment that we can have and support so many programs, Ministries, and faith experiences for our flock. It is your stewardship and generosity which allows us to do so much for so many people in our own Parish Family, in our local communities, in our Archdiocese of Chicago, and even throughout the entire geographical world. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

 Your Pastor,  

Rev. Thomas R. Rzepiela

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