Last weekend marked my first month in the parish. I am filled with gratitude for being back in parish life after four years of academia and formation work at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. I loved serving on the faculty and helping form our future priests at the seminary, but I feel most at home in the midst of God’s people out in the parish.
There were many “firsts” in this first month. Most recently, I took part in my first Heritage Festival on the grounds of St. Joseph Oratory. What a great tradition! The Polish food there was the tastiest I’ve had (even better than the food I had in Krakow), particularly those tasty golumpkis of which they made over 4000. That’s a lot of meat!
Congratulations to the co-chairs, Paul Gorczyca and Jerry & Dee Schell, and the entire festival committee, and a huge thank you to all the volunteers who made the event possible. I’m sure they could use more volunteers next year, so please think about giving a few hours next year. It’s a great way to take in the festival atmosphere, while lending a hand as well. The Citizen Patriot via MLive.com had a nice article on the Heritage Festival with a couple of memorable polka pictures.
Making the Rounds with Business & Grounds
In this first month, I also met with some of our many committees and groups that keep our parish humming. One of them was the Building and Grounds Committee, an advisory group chaired by Jim Schneider made up of parishioners that specialize in various trades. By contributing their know-how in their respective fields, they help maintain our beautiful parish property.
The latest project is the improvements in our St. John Church and School parking lots. A structural study of the church also needs to be done due to noticeable fissures and separations of windows from the wall.
St. John School without JCMS
Another notable meeting in which I took part was the Legacy Committee, chaired by Steve Schneider, which was formed to help provide guidance for the school after the decision last academic year to move Jackson Catholic Middle School to the Lumen Christi campus. That move had a significant negative impact on our annual budget because we essentially retain the same overhead costs without the benefit of the tuition income of the middle school students. Even after the difficult terminations of two positions and other budget reductions, we still have a $100,000 projected deficit annually in our school budget.
Thanks to some assistance from other Jackson area parishes and Lumen Christi, that deficit will be minimized in our first year without JCMS. For future years, however, we have to either find ways to reduce even more our expenses somehow by $100,000 or discover some means of generating income for the vacated classrooms. The leading idea as of late is beginning a day care. If anyone has helpful knowledge or expertise in this field of daycare, please contact our principal, Mrs. Kristi Blair.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven Worth to You?
For those with whom I celebrated Mass, that question should sound familiar. For those to whom it does not sound familiar, you too should reflect on this most important question of your life: http://www.stjohnjackson.org/2014/homily-fr-chas-7-26-14/.