As I contemplate the Annual Parish Report due this week, I am aware that our financial success or failure is but call to service. The success of Padre Serra Parish is not found on a balance sheet, it is not in the bank or in a financial report. Our mission work, individually and collectively, is the measure of our discipleship, the true measure of our success.
Funding the mission of the church takes talent, treasure, creativity and imagination … from all of us. A few years ago, I met a Superior Court Judge in a small California town who found a creative way to use his position to honor the mission of his Catholic faith and serve the needs of his community.
When I arrived for the third day of trial in a civil case, the courtroom was filled with people present to argue cases on the court’s twice weekly traffic calendar. Although the town where this occurred is small, it is at the center of two interstates and lots of traffic offenders are cited to appear in this remote courthouse. I waited for the courtroom to clear and noticed a very curious occurrence. As you would expect, lots of people pled their case and left the courtroom. However, while still waiting for the traffic calendar to end, I saw more than a few of these same people return and walk into the courtroom with bags of groceries. When the traffic calendar finally ended, I walked into the courtroom and jokingly asked the judge if the court was catering lunch with all the groceries. The judge laughed and explained that the small town was deeply poverty stricken, the last major employer left town and there were no jobs and little hope. To help the community, the judge unilaterally implemented a unique program. From early October through mid-November the judge gave traffic offenders a choice to either pay their fine as usual, or satisfy the fine by delivering non-perishable food to the courthouse equal to 50% of their fine. The judge explained that it took a while for people to understand but eventually most people elected to bring in food and cut their fine by half. The court stored all the food in the jury room and on the weekend before Thanksgiving, the local Sheriff’s Department, working with local churches, delivered all of the food to needy people throughout the community. Remarkably, the judge did the same program from mid-November through mid-December, however people were offered the option of returning with children’s toys equal to 50% of their fine. Like the groceries, the toys were delivered to children in need a few days before Christmas.
It took imagination, willpower and work but that program helped a lot of people. How much imagination do you have? How creative can you be? What can we do, individually and collectively, to live our discipleship and fund the mission of the church here at Padre Serra Parish? With imagination, willpower and work, we too can Fund the Mission.
Parishioner, Finance Council, Volunteer