Last year at this time, I received a voicemail message from a manager of the Wal-Mart at the corner of US-41 and 111th Avenue North. She asked that I call her back to discuss an upcoming program we were hosting at the parish. I had no idea to what she was referring so I inquisitively returned the call. As it turns out, she was referring to Undy Sunday which will take place this year on August 14th and August 21st. The reason for her call was to identify the dates for last year’s drive so that her store could make sure to order extra inventory for the event. I have to say that I would never have thought of that nor did I realize we collected that much in the way of socks and underwear for the drive. So I did a little research and was astounded at what I found. This year I called her to let her know the dates so that they may have the appropriate inventory.
Did you know that this year, nearly 50 Collier County Churches and Synagogues will participate in Undy Sunday hosted by Catholic Charities of Collier County? This is the 15th annual event. Since the initial Undy Sunday in 1997, the number of participating churches has more than doubled. About 650,000 undergarments have been given to disadvantaged children in Collier County during the past 14 years.
It is hard to imagine these children doing without such basic necessities as clean underwear and socks; however, the fact is that this situation is all too prevalent throughout Collier County. The good news is that this is a program in which everyone can participate. I intend to have my oldest daughter (although maybe slightly unwillingly) use her allowance to purchase a package of underwear for the drive. She will learn a very valuable lesson about how blessed she is and how important it is to take care of those in need. I will also petition everyone I know to follow suit and do the same. You can purchase a little girls combo pack (9 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks) for as little as $10.50 at Wal-Mart. So when I say that everyone can participate, this is certainly the case. If you are unable to make it to the store to shop, Catholic Charities will accept monetary contributions as well.
Please look for the Undy Sunday boxes in the narthex of the church on August 14 and August 21. We ask that you bring new socks and new underwear for boys and girls sizes six through 12. Monetary donations are also needed to purchase backpacks and school supplies. Thank you for supporting those in our community that may otherwise go without.
I had the pleasure of giving Deacon Frank and Sandi Paniccia a tour of the Paniccia Prayer Garden this past week. This was the first opportunity they have had to see the garden since we broke ground two months ago. This was a moment I will remember for quite some time. Upon entering the garden through the gazebo and seeing their vision come to life, both Frank and Sandi had tears welling up in their eyes and then running down their cheeks. They were truly amazed at what they saw. As you may remember, Sandi came up with the idea for a prayer garden last year. She had initially envisioned the garden on the west side of the service road, however, that land is a preserve and may not be disturbed. The decision was then made to build the garden on the west side of the courtyard which is rarely used. I am confident that when completed, our parishioners will have a similar reaction when entering the prayer garden. We have worked diligently to create a very special place for you to enjoy for years to come. Sandi and Frank confirmed through their reaction that we have been extremely successful. Copper pathway lighting was installed this past week and the majority of the trees throughout the garden have been illuminated with up lighting. With only 50% of the lighting installed, the garden looks amazing at night. Granite for the benches and Stations of the Cross is due to arrive this week from Italy. The benches will then be sculpted, engraved and sent on their way to Naples along with the bases for the Stations of the Cross. All 20 benches are now sold. Thank you to all who made the decision to purchase a bench, Station of the Cross, statue, mosaic or fountain.
As promised, please see the consolidated financial statement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, with a comparison to the same period last year. I will address a few items which you will find of interest with regards to the statement. As expected, regular offertory which is our main source of revenue was off by over 4% versus last year. Considering the current economic conditions and financial constraints on many of our parish families, this could have been much worse. Receipts from all sources were up 2.67% due mainly in part to restricted contributions for the Prayer Garden. We continued to make gains with regards to salary expense. We recognized a nearly 3.5% decrease in personnel and salary expense on the heels of a 22% decrease the year before. Please note that we have removed all income and expenses related to the Catholic Faith Appeal and any Diocesan collections including Jamaica Outreach, Habitat for Humanity, Haiti Earthquake Relief and Tornado Relief. These are technically pass through accounts and due to timing will skew the income and expense creating abnormalities that don’t truly recognize our current financial position. All in all, we had a very good year.
With that said, I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for your support and generosity in keeping us solvent as we have gone through transition and a very tough economic downturn. It is truly a testament to the generosity of each of you that we have the amazing parish we do.
Please remember to make a pledge or contribution to the Catholic Faith Appeal.
Thank you so much for supporting St. John the Evangelist.