Fr. Paul's Homily
One of my great memories of my family would be our Thanksgiving meals. My brothers and sisters and their families would come together at my parent’s home, to have a wonderful meal, as we crowded into my mother’s country kitchen. I remember one Thanksgiving that we had 36 people seated in the kitchen for Thanksgiving!! The food was delicious and the sense of family was tremendous.
For the women who gather here today, and some men, you are aware of the amount of work that went into creating such a meal. Buying food, preparing it, obtaining enough silverware, plate ware, chairs, tables. Lots of work, both before and after the meal, was required. The meal was the center point, but it would not have happened without a lot of practical preparation.
Today in our Gospel, Jesus is very direct in helping us understand the significance of the Eucharist, Holy Communion: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you shall not have life within you.” As Catholics we understand this as the Eucharist that we celebrate daily here at Holy Spirit, but especially on Sunday. This experience, which Jesus mandated by saying, “Do this in remembrance of me,” is at the heart of all that we do as parish and school. Through this experience we touch into the Presence of Jesus Christ in our midst as the center of our faith.
As with our families’ Thanksgiving meals, much is required to help make those meals possible. I would like to use this understanding to speak with you about our parish from a practical point of view…dollars and cents, buildings and grounds. All of this is necessary to enable us to continue to be Christ’s Presence here on the eastside of Indianapolis.
It has been one year since our church renovation was completed and we returned to worship in our church following six weeks in the gym. Actually, the gym worked quite well for Mass, which surprised many, including myself. The renovation’s final cost was $311,000 and it has been completely paid for, primarily through the generosity of the Holy Spirit parishioners and also a $33,000 grant from the Archdiocese. With these funds we replaced our sound system, changed the area for music in the church, replaced the ceiling and installed a projector, screen and monitor in the chapel. We also put in a new bathroom in the back of church and created mosaic backgrounds for the Holy Family statue and the crucifix. The most visible change was the creation of the new baptistry which has served many children’s baptisms and also six adult baptisms in the immersion pool at Easter. Although we dealt with a leak in the baptistry for a few months, all has been corrected and everything is working well. I am very pleased with how the new furnishings blend so well with the altar furnishings already present. I want to especially thank our parishioner, Mike Eagan, who was our architect for the renovation this past year, and led us through the entire process. Michael, we are indebted to you. Thank you.
We have heard many positive comments about the new screen where the music and responses are projected at each Mass. I love to hear the sound of people singing at Mass and participating in the responses!! Sometimes I remain quiet just to listen to you pray. It lifts my heart! I hope you like it also. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Our fiscal year ended on June 30, and we ended in the black, which is good! Although we collected $74,000 less than we budgeted, we were able to conserve and complete the year with $5,000 remaining. Remember this is on a total budget of $2,000,000 for the parish and another $2,300,000 for the school!! So, $5,000 is slicing it pretty thin!!
We were able to do several capital projects this year: 1) new fencing was put around the playground for $6,000; a new coach’s door was installed for gym entrance for $3,300; we completed the Secure Access program for all the doors in the school and parish center for a total of $50,000; we spent $16,000 for a new heat pump in the parish center and the installing of a new condenser in the school; sadly, three large ash trees died outside of our 10th St. entrance and were removed for $4,500. So, while the budget was tight, we are pleased that we were able to accomplish these capital improvements.
As you know, we had significant changes in the festival this year, requiring either wristbands or a $10 charge for entrance. While bills are still be submitted, it appears that the net profit on the festival will be between $75,000 and $80,000. Given the fact that we spent approximately $10,000 for additional police presence, extra light, fencing and the wristbands, AND, because we received some rain on Thursday night, we believe it was a successful festival (a normal festival would see $90,000 in profit). Plans are already being made for next year on how to make adjustments and improvements. Thank you again, for all who make the festival possible.
However, the success of the festival cannot be measured only in dollars and cents. So many people applauded the efforts to create a safer environment for adults and children. Many people commented on the fact that the crowds were not overwhelming and people felt more comfortable letting their children ride the carnival rides and enjoy themselves.
As we enter into our next fiscal year, beginning July 1st, we have already been hit with unexpected expenses in the school building resulting from the excessive rain this summer. Our insurance has a $5,000 deduction per claim and we have two claims for this summer. Besides the deductible expenses, we also had a valve installed that will prevent sewer water from flooding back into our school building which was part of the problem this summer. We are now making plans to install two sub-pumps in the most severely affected areas, trying to be proactive toward future flooding possibilities. Between all these, the parish will have about $24,000 invested…all not budgeted.
This past year, we collected $24,000 less than we did the previous year in Sunday and Holyday collections. Perhaps this was because some were contributing to the renovation, we do not know, but I am concerned about this number. Our parish can only survive if each parishioner shares the responsibility of meeting our financial needs. So many of you are very generous, and I thank you much. Please continue to help us. I ask each of us to pray about our donations to the parish this coming year and to consider an increase. You know your financial responsibilities, but do not put the Lord at the bottom of the list. Come to God first, with gratitude and thanksgiving and always give with a cheerful heart. God is so good…let us thank him often.
And so, we now turn our attention back to this altar; back to the Eucharist. As the church has done for 2,000 years, we will gather around the bread and the wine, and led by the priest, we will pray over these gifts, calling forth the Holy Spirit to change them into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Then, we share approach the altar and we will humbly profess our faith in the Eucharist by saying, “Amen” in response to the words, “The Body of Christ.” As we receive Christ, we are accepting the responsibility of being Christ in our world. Let’s be active in sharing our faith; let us be engaged in the ministries of our parish and support them financially; let us bring hope and leadership to this part of the eastside of Indianapolis.