Many Good Gifts

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear brothers and sisters, as St. James tells us in our second reading: “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” We at St. Paul’s and St. John the Baptist’s Parishes have lately been blessed with many good gifts. Our churches are open for the celebration of the sacraments and parishioners are returning to Mass. We have COVID vaccines which appear to be very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated, and are helping get lives back to normal.

Our local RCIA classes, for any adults interested in getting baptized, for any Christians interested in becoming Catholic, and for any Catholic adults who desire the Sacrament of Confirmation, will begin at St. Paul’s on September 16th with the largest class we’ve had in years. And for our children, Bloomer’s Catholic school will be open for classes, returning to safe, in-person instruction this week with over one hundred students enrolled. St. Paul’s School had multiples gaps to fill in our faculty and staff this year, but God’s Providence provided us with great new hires, a mixture of new and familiar faces.

St. John the Baptist’s church interior renovation project is complete. And the widespread consensus is that it turned out absolutely beautifully. If you haven’t already, check it out in two weeks, during St. John’s Fall Festival on Sunday, September 12th. And today, St. John the Baptist Parish is completely free of long-term debt.

St. Paul’s Parish has wonderful news regarding its finances as well. St. Paul’s has been paying down a long-term debt which at times over the past ten years has exceeded $160,000. Parishioners’ generous giving towards the school roof and parish debt fundraising campaign (which ends at the end of August), plus a $100,000 gift from the estate of Sylvan Prill and a very recent $25,000 gift from the estate of Alta Beranek, will allow St. Paul’s to pay off all of our long-term debts next month. (Alta also graciously left a $25,000 gift to St. John the Baptist Parish.) Please consider remembering your parish in your will as well.

Both parishes being debt-free is a excellent thing, but please, please do not give up on or reduce your tithing. St. Paul’s, in years past, has come out of and back into debt before. If people stop giving, new debt will surely follow. Your generosity carried us successfully through the pandemic lockdown, and by the end of September both St. Paul’s and St. John’s will be completely debt free. That is something to celebrate and a hopeful sign for the future.

The faithfulness of the Thrift Sale’s many volunteers and customers is generating one of its best years ever, and St. Paul’s September 26th Fall Festival is just around the corner. Both parishes’ Finance Councils have happily adopted balanced budgets for the current fiscal year; but the outcome of these budgets, of course, depends upon your continued giving.

We are more blessed than we realize. Recent, terrible news from abroad reminds us that not all places on earth have the peace and freedom we enjoy. We all have much to be thankful for. “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” So, echoing the words of the opening prayer of today’s Mass, with a deepening sense of reverence and love in our hearts for God’s name, let us give thanks to our God of might, the giver of every good gift.

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