In a month’s time, we Americans will gather with our family and friends in Thanksgiving for God’s many blessing. One of the great blessings of my life is my vocation to the priesthood and in particular the blessing to serve as Rector/Pastor of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. In the two years since Archbishop Lori assigned Fr. DeFusco and me to your parish, as a community of faith we have accomplished much together. Our parish staff has been rebuilt with competent and dedicated ministers. The unity of our parish has been strengthened by a concerted effort to forge a closer bond between the parish and the School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Confidence and momentum have returned to the parish that was absent just a few short years ago. Sunday Mass attendance has increased by nearly 400 people per weekend with a marked increase in the number of young families attending the 9:30 Sunday morning Mass with its Children’s Liturgy of the Word. Our Cathedral held a successful parish mission and celebrated our inaugural annual Homecoming weekend. Over the past fiscal year, our offertory collection grew by an amazing $142K – the largest increase of any parish in the Archdiocese.
I owe the people of this parish a huge debt of gratitude for your commitment to the Cathedral. I thank you for the many ways you support our programs and ministries through your generous donation of time, talent and treasure.
We have a proud past as the Cathedral parish of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and we have a very bright future to shape together. As I normally do in my annual stewardship letter, let me share with you the goals that I have set for myself as pastor of the parish. These goals are in no way exhaustive of my ministry but succeeding in achieving them will have significant impact on the wider parish:
- Financial Stability: Between 2011 and 2014, annual offertory income declined by nearly $250K! Thanks to your generosity, this trend was reversed last year. Increasing offertory income an additional $100K this year will bring the parish back to the giving levels of FY 2011 and stabilize parish operations and ministries.
- Brick & Mortar Projects: An aging infrastructure presents us with challenges and opportunities. There are two projects beginning to take shape. I have received permission from Archbishop Lori to begin the process to replace the Cathedral’s electrical/lighting system. Antiquated and very expensive to operate, a newer lighting system will permit us to brighten up the Church as well as to highlight its magnificent architectural features. There is also a need to take a look at the physical plant needs of the School of the Cathedral. Of immediate concern is the need to conduct a spatial use analysis of our existing school building and create a new Library Media Center. Shortly, I will ask the Archbishop’s permission to begin this process.
- Pastoral Initiatives: Over the past six months, the Pastoral Council working in concert with the Parish Staff have developed three pastoral goals in response to the parish survey taken last April and the follow-up parish town-hall meeting in May. These three pastoral goals will be a primary focus of the Council and staff over the next three years:
- Build a sense of community in the parish through small group opportunities. A major initiative in this area will be the re-introduction of the Renew Program “Arise” in the fall of 2017;
- Revitalize and grow the Cathedral’s liturgical music program. Initiatives in this area include the formation of a “music” committee to advise the Rector and Director of Music in things music as well as the purchase of new hymnals in 2017;
- To grow the Cathedral’s outreach and ministry to high school age parishioners. Currently, our youth minister is involved in several programs at the School of the Cathedral which should help foster the development of a high school age group. During the current school year, a series of events/opportunities are being planned for the youth of our parish.
It is my hope that achieving progress in these pastoral initiatives will help our parish grow and become more inviting for others to join.
Over the past two years, I have asked each wage earner to commit one hour’s wage per week to the financial support of the parish. This year I present my appeal differently. As you consider your financial support of the parish, please check your current level of giving to your total income by following the simple instructions on the enclosed sacrificial giving chart. It is a very simple chart to help you find the percentage level at which you are currently giving. After reflection, please decide if you can “GROW-ONE-STEP” by moving to the next level up. For example, if you are presently giving 2% consider 2.5% or even 3%. I, too, will be taking the “next step” in my own giving to the parish.
I will be delivering my annual “stewardship” homily the weekend of October 29/30 with commitment Sunday the following weekend. May I ask you to prayerfully consider your giving to the parish. We are only able to accomplish what your generosity permits. Please know how grateful I am for your support of the work of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Enclosed you will find a financial statement and summary of the sacramental life of the parish over the past year.
Rev. Msgr. Richard W. Woy