Missionary in Ecuador
Many people, at sometime in their lives, dream of going to a far off land and being a missionary of some sort. Well, just over a month ago, a friend, Fr. Heiko (German for Hank or Henry) Junge, left the comforts of Oregon for the challenges of the Missionary Society of St. James who do work in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. At first, I figured that I would not hear from him for a long time. Yet, soon after he arrived in Ecuador, I received a phone call from him with a report of what was going on as well as some computer assistance. I was happy to help out. I don't think I've ever debugged a computer from so far away! Fr. Heiko has been frequently updating his web page which he established prior to his leaving. I encourage you to check it out: www.heikomission.com.
merica for a period of five years during which he will return to the states to seek out assistance through missionary appeals as well as take some time off. He may very well be the geekiest missionary in the society. As you can see from the photos here that he will be working amidst dirt-floor houses and offering the sacraments where possible. It has already been proving to be a real paradigm shift for Fr. Heiko compared to here in the states. Again, go to his web site to learn more about what he is doing and how he is reacting to the people and events that present themselves. You can also e-mail him with your well wishes. You can get his e-mail address from his web page.
Fundraising & Friend-raising
For many parishes, ours included, fundraising is a necessity. It is very difficult to create and implement a fundraiser. From finding volunteers to seeking out people to come the the event, fundraising can even burn people out very quickly. In fact, not all fundraisers hit their goal and raise money. Sometimes, when poorly managed, they can even spin out of control and end up costing more than they make. That's the worst case scenario. Fortunately, we can brag that we take to heart the purpose and plan of each fundraiser seriously. I am very proud of all those who have worked so hard in the recent months at our various fundraising events.
Our annual Rummage Sale was a big hit. People were very impressed at how nice everything looked. It was a labor of love by the volunteers, and I am so thankful for their care in making it a quality event. Just a few weeks ago, both our Anglo and Hispanic communities came together to offer our eigth annual Mexican Dinner. The food was excellent and it was even better organized than ever before. This, again, is due to the wonderful dedication and heart of all those who planned and worked so hard to make it a success. Even more recently, we held our annual auction which hit its goal financial target plus a little more. Again, that is due to the amazing dedication of parishioners as well as those who generously participated in the auction itself.
At each of of these events, parishioners banned together and worked for a common cause. I think they all had fun and grew closer as a community. These were not only good fundraisers, but also "friend-raisers." St. Anthony's is an amazing community dedicated to growing in faith together. This is one of the things that has impressed me the most since coming to St. Anthony's six years ago (Nov. 1 is the official 6th anniversary). Being part of a parish isn't just about coming to Mass or even volunteering to serve somewhere. Being part of a parish also means building relationships, bonds of love that help us, enliven us, and even challenge us to be more like Christ. It is a family of sorts. We are not meant to be alone. Our parish is one avenue that helps us to know that we are together in this thing called life. Let us lean on each other, confident that God is in control.
Offertory Program - Time, Talent, Treasure, & Tradition
In the coming weeks, we will be beginning the process of our annual Offertory Program which involves prayerful reflection on the part of all parishioners. The calendar of events is below. It is important that we all participate at whatever level we can. Participation is the most important aspect of the Offertory Program. It is even more important than how much a few give financially. In my homily of Oct. 18/19, 2008, we were all challenged to think about the gifts we have been given by God. The main question was, "What is not God's?" The answer is that everything we have is a gift from God. Not only our possessions and money, but our talents as well. Knowing that, we embark, once again, to reflect on how we can give back something to God in appreciation for all that he has done for us. So, begin now thinking and praying about how you can give back to God something of your time, talent, and treasure. In addition to that common reflection, this year I would like us all to ponder on how each of us can share our tradition as well. Our faith is not something that is to be kept to ourselves. It is something to be shared. Is there some way you can share your Catholic faith with others? I would like us each to think about that and make a plan to consider inviting people to Mass or some event that will happen this year at the parish. Maybe instead of bringing them to St. Anthony's, you might consider going to visit them where they are, bringing a heart of faith and love to their home. Maybe it is a commitment to be especially kind to the people at the grocery store or gas station. Maybe it would involve making a commitment to call someone each week to talk about the good things of the faith or encouraging someone who is down. Sharing our tradition can be done in so many ways.
Each year poses its new challenges, and each year we need to ponder on how to balance out those challenges so that we can maintain our commitments. The Offertory Program is intended to help you make that commitment based on your reflections. Each year we ask parishioners to consider the state of things in their lives in a one year snapshot. How has God blessed you? What has changed? Given that, each of are then being asked to decide how much we can commit financially to the parish. Should you increase your weekly giving? Should you decrease your weekly giving? Should you stay the same? This is a hard question for many to make given the economic situation we all live in. Our faith challenges us to give to God first and not just give our leftovers. One way of doing that is to consider your financial stewardship to the parish before bill paying. Another is to consider using our very successful ACH program where the amount you have committed to giving is automatically withdrawn from your bank account. I do this, and it helps me to know that I will meet my commitment because I have set up a system to do it. It is not something that I hope I'll get around to, nor is it something that becomes an heavy burden. Automatic withdrawal is the normative way I deal with all my bills. Using that system, I have less stress in my life as well as confidence that I am meeting my commitments.
So that you will know what is coming up, here is our Offertory Program calendar:
2009 Offertory Program Calendar
Please begin your prayerful discernment as to how you will participate in the life of St. Anthony's. If you have any questions, you can contact me or John Moore, this year's coordinator for the Offertory Program. Thank you for all you do. It is a privilege to be your pastor.
Blessings in Christ,
Fr. William Holtzinger