Appreciating the Proper Place of a Budget in our Parish

Mar 5, 2017

   What if our parish did not have a budget? Let’s just say that everyone was invited to contribute to her/his favorite cause. If we encouraged this, our parish would soon be hurting. Who wants to pay utility bills, health insurance costs, salaries, office supplies and other unattractive expenses? As unappealing as it is to direct funding to meet these obligations, we know how necessary these realities of parish life are.

   Let’s look at how we relate to finances in our own homes. Many of us would like to designate a significant amount of our income for vacation time and for recreational activities. In our families, we have many needs to which to direct our income. These include providing food, clothing, shelter, health expenses, educational costs, transportation needs, communication services and the list goes on and on. Whether formally or informally, we do budget our income within our families. We set priorities and try to abide by these in terms of how we spend our money. By doing this, things fall into place financially.

   At this time, the budget committees of both of our parishes are developing budgets for the coming fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. The budget committees have the challenge to envision the total financial needs of our parish and at St. Mary’s, the school community, for the coming fiscal year and to plan accordingly.

   What a blessing it is that for the most part, our regular financial giving to our parish is not designated for specific causes or projects. We honor God no less by paying just salaries, health insurance, and utility bills than we do by providing for a new baptismal font or attractive communion vessels. Each expense has its proper place in the on-going life of our parish/school community.

   Let’s be grateful for the persons who work hard to prepare the budgets for our parishes and school community at St. Mary’s. By preparing budgets and working to adhere to them, we are exercising responsible stewardship.

   As we work with budgets, we also need to appreciate their limitations. Hopefully, our primary motive for giving to our parish is not to meet the budget. As stewards or caretakers of all that has been entrusted to us, hopefully our giving to the Lord through our parish is motivated by sacrificial gratitude for all that we receive. In the setting of prayer, many experience the joy of designating a percentage right off of the top of our income to the Lord for His work in and through our parish. The Biblical model for proportional giving is to offer 10% of all that we receive for the Lord’s work. By giving back to the Lord on the basis of what we receive, we can be at peace with ourselves in relation to the needs of our parish and, at St. Mary’s, our school community.

   Another basic limitation of a budget comes from the reality that we can’t see clearly into the future. Expenses can crop up that we couldn’t envision and to which we need to respond right away, such as to replace a water heater or a boiler. Neither can we envision unexpected sources of revenue. For example, someone dies and in his/her will, that person has designated a sizeable sum of money to his/her parish.

   As we acknowledge the limitations of budgets, let’s appreciate the spiritual nature of preparing a budget and be grateful for this indicator of the spiritual vibrancy of our parish and/or school community.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor