My name is Jack Fremeau. My wife Joyce and I have been St John’s parishioners since 1979. We think of this parish as a family, home, and blessing to help us attain happiness in heaven. Our four sons grew up in this parish and attended school at St John, JCMS, and Lumen Christi. I currently serve St. John as a member of the finance council, and would like to share with you some thoughts concerning our parish finances and intentional giving.
As you may have noticed from the financial data published in the bulletin, our weekly offertory collections have generally been less than the budgeted amount. Overall since the start of the budget year in July 2018, the collections are more than $40,000 behind.
You may ask about how the money from the collections is spent. Are we spending wisely? I will tell you that it is the job of our finance council to oversee the stewardship of our parish resources. The finance council ensures that the annual budget is appropriate to the needs of the parish and that monies spent are consistent with those needs. All significant off-budget spending is approved in advance by the finance council (e.g., the school roof repair last year). There is so much good happening at St John. We support an elementary school of over 200 students from Pre-K through 6th grade. We support our 7-12 graders attending Lumen Christi. We support the education of our public school children in our Catholic faith. We reach out to the community at large through the St Vincent de Paul Society, our Knights of Columbus, our Christian Service Commission projects, and the numerous and varied parish “Come and See” initiatives.
I believe that the parish is spending wisely. Let me share with you an example from my area of concentration, St John Elementary School. The school budget for 2018-19 is a bit more than $1.2 million, a bit more than $6000 per child. Tuition for one child is $3450, with discounts for families with more than one child enrolled and additional assistance to those with needs. The tuition rate is set yearly in order to make Catholic education affordable for all while at the same time carefully weighing its impact on the parish budget. The school receives some financial support from its Parent Teacher Organization’s efforts and from Jackson Area Catholic Schools’ community fundraisers such as the Family Fall Festival. However, more than $500,000 of its budget comes from the parish offertory. salaries and benefits, especially health insurance and payroll taxes for teachers and staff are by far the largest budget items. Heat, electricity, and insurance on the school building amount to $130,000. We cannot operate the school without the significant support of the parish at large, which necessitates each parishioner family’s stewardship of their personal treasure. So how ought we approach the giving of our treasure? I believe that we are called to share our gifts intentionally.
What does intentional giving mean to me? It starts with prayer to discern what we will return to God from the fruits of our labor. Joyce and I have received so many blessings from God in our lives, and so many of those blessings have come through St John Parish. Our giving has evolved over the years, from our days as young parents into our retirement years. Giving became and is the top line in our family budget, which we review at the start of each year and during the year if our circumstances change. It is the offering of our “first fruits,” and we can truly affirm that over the years our parish and charitable giving has become a gift returned to us. Even as I write this, we are asking ourselves if our current offertory is consistent with our commitment to intentional giving. Can we do more? It is an ongoing process.
I hope you see St John Parish as a family and gift in your lives. I hope you will prayerfully consider intentional giving as the way to discern the appropriate contribution to St John Parish and other charities. May God enlighten us all in our response to the gifts we have received from Him from Whom all blessings flow.
– Jack Fremeau