Notes and News

Notes from Fr. Greg Kimm, Pastor

Fr. Greg Kimm's talk on parish finances, 23-24 June, 2018

I know that most of you appreciate my brief homilies, if not for the content, at least for the length. In exchange for those homilies I'm going to ask you for a bit more of your time today to talk about a very important subject: the present and future condition of our parish.

As you know, Dan Morris, our director of liturgy and liturgical music, retired from ministry on June 3. I have been searching for well over a month for a suitable replacement and have come up empty-handed in spite of my best efforts. We had one good candidate: he had the knowledge, he had the experience, and he had the desire to come to St. Joseph's. The problem was the salary. In order to work here, this person would have had to take a huge pay cut, and this was, of course, impossible for him and his family, as I'm sure it would be for you and your families under most circumstances.

In the course of trying to hire someone new for our parish staff, I have learned something that I had already guessed was true: the people who work here are among the lowest-paid Catholic church staff people in Santa Clara County and there is no way that we can compete with the salaries that some other Catholic churches in our area are paying.

Our salaries have been so low because our income has been so low. Some people here may think that St. Joseph's is a wealthy parish. After all, we live in one of the most expensive areas in the entire United States. Yes, we have money in the bank for emergencies, largely because of a house that was donated to the parish a number of years ago. But folks, we are struggling to meet our ordinary expenses: things like electricity for lights and air conditioning (I'm sure you're really glad we have that this weekend); the maintenance of our old buildings; bread, wine, and candles for mass; and the salaries of our hard-working and underpaid staff people.

It costs one million dollars to keep our parish going each year. (This amount does not include the cost of running our school, which, except for an annual $70,000 parish subsidy, takes care of itself.) The Sunday collection now pays for just one-half of that million dollars that we need on an annual basis. That means I have to try to scrape together half a million dollars through other sources every year. This is why I have to rent out our facilities constantly to outside groups and this is why we are so dependent now on bingo, which has become the second-highest source of income for our parish. In other words, our parish is now largely supported by people from outside the parish.

It doesn't have to be this way and it shouldn't be this way. This parish belongs to us and we are the ones who should be supporting it. And this brings us once again to the subject of the Sunday collection, our main source of income. National statistics show that Catholics give less money to their churches than members of any other Christian denomination. Our friends the Mormons are required by their religion to give 10% of their income to the church. Catholics on average give less than 1%. Please think for a moment about your annual income. Now think about the amount that you put in the collection basket every week and multiply that number by 52 weeks. The math may be hard so I'm going to give you an example. The median income in Cupertino is almost $135,000. Let's say someone has an annual income of $100,000. If that person puts $10 in the collection every week for 52 weeks, that person's total annual donation to the parish is $520 or about one-half of one percent of that person's annual income.

Sadly, it seems that many people here are not even contributing one-half of one percent of their annual income to the parish. Our wonderful volunteer money counters can testify that most of the money that goes into the collection baskets consists of one-dollar bills. Please ask yourself: Are you putting into the collection even the cost of a movie? Are you putting into the collection even the cost of your breakfast at your favorite restaurant? Imagine what would happen if everybody contributed at least one percent of his or her income to the church every year.

Please note that I am not asking people to give to the church more than they can afford. I am asking that people give to the church exactly what they can afford. There is a parishioner who gives $3.00 a week. She is elderly and disabled and lives on government assistance of just $800 a month. For her, $3 per week is perfectly fine, even generous. I know some of you are already doing all you can and if you are in this group, I say thank you.

When people need money, there are just two options: increase income or cut expenses. I have been unsuccessful in increasing our parish income, so it is time to cut more of our expenses. For this reason, beginning Monday, July 2, the parish office will now close at 2 P.M. instead of 5 P.M. Monday through Thursday. We are also eliminating the landscaping that took place on weekends; it will now be done by our maintenance staff during the week. The parish staff and I are already extremely careful with our spending but if our financial situation does not improve significantly, there will have to be more cuts in the future-and they will get increasingly painful for everybody.

Now some people will surely complain that it is inappropriate for Father to talk about money in church. That could not be more incorrect. Have you ever noticed that in our parish, just as in many other parishes, the collection basket comes up to the altar along with the bread and wine? That is because all of the gifts—bread, wine, and financial contributions—represent the gift of ourselves to God. When we contribute to our parish, we are performing an act of worship; we are making an offering to God. Not all of our offerings can be the same, because we are not the same. But God expects all of us to have a generous heart, a heart like that of Jesus, a heart that moves us to place our lives—and all that we have—at the service of one another.

Rev. Gregory Kimm

Inauguration of the President, 20 January 2009

As all Americans are aware, the inauguration of our 44th president on January 20 is a moment of particular historic significance for our nation. While not wishing to take anything away from the pride and celebration of our African American sisters and brothers, I'd like to point out that Mr. Obama's election to the highest office in our land represents not only the progress of the African American community but also, in a wider sense, the wonderful diversity of these United States. Just look at the new president's background and family: his father was a member of the Luo tribe of Kenya; his mother, a white woman from Kansas, later married a man from Indonesia; his half-Indonesian sister is married to a Chinese Canadian now residing in Hawaii; his wife, a native of Chicago, is the great-great-granddaughter of a slave in South Carolina.

Tempted as we may be to think that we have come very far as a nation, it is important to remember that there is still much work to be done. Traditionally, we Americans have been very slow to insure that all people have access to the freedoms we cherish, much less embrace the diversity of our country. It was only decades ago that a Chinese person was not permitted to marry a Caucasian person in the state of California; that black people had to sit in the back of buses in Alabama; or that Protestants all over the United States were worried that a Catholic president would take his orders from the pope. Today, many Americans continue to feel the sting of discrimination, including women, people with disabilities, gay people, Native Americans, and recent immigrants. The ugliness of the November 4 election, with its vicious attacks over candidates and controversial issues, proved that we still have a lot to learn about showing respect for differences.

A different place of origin does not negate the origin that all people have in God. A different appearance does not negate the image of God in which all people are made. A different status does not negate all people's status as God's children. A different set of beliefs does not negate God's belief that all people are valuable. As Christians, we are called to love without regard to differences, to love even those people who are different from us.

Rev. Gregory Ng Kimm