In the June newsletter of St. Thomas More, Scranton, Pennsylvania, “More News”, Fr. Eric Bergman writes very encouragingly about some generous giving, meaning that most of the parish’s numerous projects of the past twelve months are either completed or now able to be undertaken in the foreseeable future. This is really impressive – our American cousins seem to respond really enthusiastically to fund-raising campaigns on behalf of their church.
In the UK too it is clear that our Ordinariate communities have a culture of giving which compares very favourably with most other Catholic parishes. Some very small groups provide a stipend for their pastor, one has apparently purchased a house to welcome their priest, who has still to be appointed. So I must admit that I find it disappointing, nay frustrating, that the meanwhile national campaign to raise sufficient funds to purchase the redundant Methodist church in Chelston, Torbay, is progressing awfully slowly. After over two months of stagnation, the Campaign site announces that still only just over £100,000 of the £150,000 first tranche have been raised. I should like to encourage all readers of this site to join the effort to find the remaining £50,000 and hopefully more. Just click on the mydonate button in the right-hand column to access the donations page. Thank you all very much in advance.
Father Bergman writes:
Dear Members and Friends,
Your response to my letter from last month is very encouraging. You will recall I mentioned several projects that we have been unable to move forward on because of the lack of funds. … We have received thousands of dollars towards long-delayed projects that will soon get underway.
First, Mr. Campbell, our administrator, will meet this afternoon with the carpenters who will construct our handicapped access ramp that will run from the sanctuary of the church down at a gradual grade into the nave. Until a couple weeks ago we had raised only half of what we needed to complete that work, but in May we received the remainder of the estimated cost. The same carpenters who did such a beautiful job in our convent chapel two years ago should be able to complete this new project within the next few weeks. This means, of course, that those who are wheelchair bound, or even have extreme difficulty navigating steps, will be able to worship with us by entering St. Joseph Church through the door just off the handicapped parking lot next to the rectory. The carpenters will also install railings at either end of the altar rail to assist parishioners as they ascend and descend the two steps between the sanctuary and the nave. We are sincerely grateful for those of you who contributed to enable the completion of the ramp and thus the potential inclusion at Mass of more of the faithful.
Second, having received the remainder of the money over the past month to purchase the lot at the intersection of Theodore and Church towards the south-west corner of our property, we have set a date for closing of June 29th. You remember, I’m sure, that this lot, in conjunction with the one abutting it that we purchased last year, will become the Jerry McGreevy Memorial Park for the children of our parish. We intend, also, for it to function as a safe and enclosed school yard when we are able to establish our parish school. We rejoice as we approach once again the expansion of our campus, thankful for the contributions of so many that made possible the purchase of the property for our park.
Third, there remains, you can see, a structure on the lot at Theodore and Church. You can also observe that it is terribly fire damaged, and to repair that damage is cost-prohibitive. Thus, we must raze the structure after we have taken ownership of it and the lot on which it now stands. We have taken in very little of this $8,800 amount, but to foster fundraising for this destruction so that the construction of our park may proceed, an anonymous donor has proposed a challenge grant for half the amount. That is, if our parishioners and other benefactors are able to raise $4,400 to tear down the burned out house at 1622 Church Avenue, our donor will give the other $4,400 outright. This was our benefactor’s idea, but based on past experience, I believe (I said) that we can likely raise that much money. If you are able and would like to donate towards this, please contact me, or you can send a contribution clearly designated for the house-razing. This is the first challenge grant I have been personally involved with, and I am very grateful for this generous offer. I thank you in advance for whatever you may be able to share with us.
I look forward to reporting to you in our next edition of More News what encouraging generosity has proceeded from our annual stewardship campaign, the means by which we undertake not projects but the day to day operations of our parish. As you contemplate what you are able to give to St. Thomas More Catholic Church for the coming year, please do not reduce your pledge for operating expenses in order to contribute towards capital campaigns, such as the handicapped ramp and the McGreevy Memorial Park. While we can wait to get projects done, our bills have due dates, and our budget could not in all honesty handle the redirection of funds we need to keep the lights on. That said, all restricted monies will be used for the purposes for which they are dedicated.
In closing I will ask that you assist at this month’s Novena Masses, or at least pray the Novena prayers every day at home. For all of the gifts we give and receive we at the same time recognize that all gifts come ultimately from God. May He answer favorably the intercessory prayers of our Patron, and may the Lord’s Grace guide you in your giving.
Gratefully Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Eric L. Bergman