From the Pastor
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Our End of Year Review and Our Operating Budget for the Next Fiscal Year: A four page summary of our Year in Review report is included in this bulletin. The full report is available online. In an earlier bulletin I had mentioned that while we were running a little behind in our budgeted revenue for the past fiscal year, we were also slightly under budget in regard to our expenses. We ended the fiscal year with a small deficit, which was covered by using a portion of the school rental income. The remainder of the school rental income was transferred to our cash reserve.
I am grateful to our staff for the terrific job they did in reducing and controlling expenses. I am also grateful, though, for the ongoing financial support of you, our parishioners. Your generosity is a blessing for our parish.
As mentioned above, the full copy of our year review is available online at mary.org. You can also call our Development Office if you would like to receive a printed copy.
Finally, because of your generosity, in our budgeting for next year—we are anticipating a small increase in our revenue. This is good news and a testament to your care for and commitment to our parish community. As your pastor, I want you to know of my gratitude for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.
2. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: This year our parish celebrates its Sesquicentennial. 150 years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. The first Mass was celebrated on October 4, 1868. (When the parish outgrew its original site, seven lots were donated at 16th and Hennepin Ave in 1904. The cornerstone of The Basilica, which was initially known as the Pro-Cathedral, was laid in 1908, and the first Mass was celebrated in The Basilica on May 31, 1914.)
We will kick-off a year long celebration of our 150th anniversary on Sunday, September 30. Archbishop Hebda will preside at the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses that day. Throughout the coming year there will be a variety of events, activities, and exhibits to celebrate our Sesquicentennial as a parish. I invite you to attend as many of these as you are able as we celebrate 150 years of faith.
3. Maintenance Projects at The Basilica: As I mentioned in an earlier bulletin, we tackled several maintenance projects on our campus this summer. As I hope you noticed from the scaffolding, we tuck-pointed the stone under the dome. As I write this column we are in the process of upgrading the kitchen in the lower level; we will also be doing some upgrades to the church sound system; seal coating and re-striping the parking lots; and replacing the florescent lights in the lower level of the Church with LED lighting. We will also be replacing the lighting on the interior ring of lights in the dome with LED lighting. This was the fund-a-need project at this year’s Basilica Landmark Ball. We also hope to reconstruct the South entrance to our school building sometime next spring.
We are hopeful that there will be minimal disruption with these projects. We are grateful that most of these projects will be funded by The Basilica Landmark.
4. Special Collections: While no one is fond of special collections, it is heartening for me to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last few special collections here.
On the weekend of June 17 and 18, $7,400 was contributed to help defray the cost of air conditioning The Basilica during the hot summer months.
On the weekend of July 28 and 29, $10,835 was contributed to help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude for your generous response to these collections.
5. Financial Stewardship: During the months of October and November we celebrate Financial Stewardship. During this time we ask all parishioners to make a pledge of financial support for our parish. While I am very much aware of the many requests we all receive for financial support, I am hopeful, though, that The Basilica will be near the top of your list in terms of your financial support. It is your ongoing, regular financial support that makes it possible for us to offer the many programs, services, and ministries that are at the heart of our Basilica parish.
6. Archdiocesan Bankruptcy: As I hope you are aware, earlier this summer an agreement had been reached to resolve the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese. The agreement establishes a trust fund of approximately $210 million for the victims/survivors. Some of the money for the settlement fund came in the form of voluntary pledges of financial support from parishes and priests of our Archdiocese. I believe this is a wonderful statement of our compassion and support for our brothers and sisters who were seriously wounded and hurt by my brother priests and by others in our church.
In a letter to all parishioners several weeks ago, I said that The Basilica of Saint Mary was one of the parishes that made a confidential pledge of financial support to the settlement fund. This decision was made in consultation with our Parish Council and Finance committee. After setting a range for this contribution, they directed that our Parish Trustees and I make the final decision as to the amount of the contribution. The money for this pledge came from our parish reserves, which are funded by the rental income from our school building. Our financial pledge won’t be payable until the details of the settlement are finalized. It is our hope that making this pledge of financial support will send a strong message of solidarity and support to the victims/survivors.
7. Parish Packing Event: After the Masses on Sunday, August 12 numerous people came together to help put school supplies into almost 200 backpacks for students at Ascension School. The school supplies were collected throughout June and July. These backpacks helped students at Ascension School start the school year off with the supplies they needed. Many thanks to all those who contributed school supplies during June and July, and to the numerous people who helped put them in to the backpacks.
8. The Current Situation in our Church: As I said in a letter to parishioners a few weeks ago, lately it has been hard to be a Catholic. There have been accusations of sexual abuse and other sexually inappropriate behavior against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Additionally, a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a report about the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. And most recently (at least as I write this column at the end of August) the former Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, wrote a letter highly critical of Pope Francis and several other Church leaders. In the first two cases, it appears that those who were in positions to do something bear both legal and moral culpability for their inaction. In regard to the letter from Archbishop Vigano, it is suspect in that Vigano accused Pope Francis of lifting sanctions against former Cardinal McCarrick that had never been put in place.
In the face of this situation, it would seem that there is very little I, or any other priest or bishop, could or should say. And yet to say nothing could be misconstrued as acquiescence to or acceptance of this situation. And so I offer two brief thoughts.
First, while our church is facing a very difficult time in its history, I believe that ultimately it will emerge purified and more humble. I say this because it is our belief that the Holy Spirit remains with and guides our church until the end of time. And I firmly believe the Spirit will not allow our church to deviate fundamentally from the truth of the Gospel, from its mission, and from its life of faith. We call this charism: “Indefectibility.” Certainly, our church has veered off course in the past. And clearly a course correction is called for at the present moment. Ultimately, though, because of the guidance of the Spirit, I have to believe that our church can’t go into fundamental error.
Second, as I said in my homily a few weeks ago, I realize that for many people the above revelations have caused them to lose faith in, and in some cases to leave the Catholic Church—at least for now. I am deeply saddened by this. At the same time I understand and respect their decision. For me, though, the Catholic Church is my home. It is too much a part of me to let it go. I cannot live without the Eucharist. I need the Eucharist to live as a follower of Jesus, and I need the faith of the community to make the Eucharist real and alive in my life. The Catholic Church is my home. I can have no other.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary