"The Call" October Issue: Stewardship Report and Evangelization
I hope this letter finds all of you and your loved ones well during these early fall months during which we see a resurgence in many parts of the country of COVID-19. Our diocesan fiscal year begins in September, so I would like to take this month to give a stewardship report on last year’s budget and some upcoming projects. We also have our seminarian reflection this month from Jon Amidon, who spent time serving as a missionary with Saint Paul’s Outreach before entering seminary. He writes about evangelization and the lay apostolate.
Stewardship Report 2019-2020
For accounting purposes, the Office of Vocations actually keeps three separate budgets: House of Studies, Vocation Office, and Seminarians. The House of Studies relates to all expenses at the Holy Name of Jesus House of Studies, the Vocation Office is related to expenses regarding recruitment, and the Seminarians budget relates to expenses those seminarians studying at seminaries outside the Diocese.
All three budgets are primarily funded by Partners in Charity, although sometimes mission partners (the name we give to those who support us, either through monetary gifts, prayers, or volunteer hours) give directly to the office as well. The annual allotment from Partners in Charity for last fiscal year was $1,104,005. Of this, the largest expense is always tuition and health insurance for seminarians studying outside the diocese, which this past year was 59% of the total budget.
Due to the economic hardships for so many people caused by the pandemic, dioceses all across the country had to re-asses their budgets. This was compounded in our diocese by the fact that Partners in Charity did not reach goal in 2019. The diocese is committed to vocations, so the budget produced at the start of the year is always fully funded for the expected expenses. I am always asked to do what I can, given the circumstances, to try and end the year under budget. Our goal was to be 10% under budget for the year, and we are happy to report that we came very close to this goal, ending the year 8.5% under budget. These savings were primarily made possible due to changes regarding health insurance for the seminarians studying in Maryland and in Rome. We were on track to reach the 10% target, but several parishes were unable to pay the seminarians their summer stipend because collections had decreased, and the Office assisted in this regard by obtaining a grant for one parish and subsidizing the others from the surplus saved from insurance.
Conscious of the high costs of tuition for seminarians, all seminarians in theology studies were asked to apply for the Bishop Thomas V. Daily Vocations Scholarship from the Knights of Columbus. This scholarship is awarded based on academic merit and assists the diocese in paying tuition for the recipient for the duration of his time in theology. We are pleased to report that one seminarian was chosen for this scholarship for this year and next, which will amount to $2,500 each year.
This past year the Office for Vocations resumed its relationship with the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, which provides resources and support to diocesan vocation directors. This allowed me to be trained in best practices related to vocation ministry. This year, I asked Father Hugo to attend, as he assists so much with vocation work as the co-director of the House of Studies.
As part of our ongoing efforts to build a culture of vocations in the parish, we were able to install a Vocation Kiosk in a second parish. These kiosks have been very well received, and we hope to continue installing them in more parishes as resources allow.
Both residents and guests have said that our tap water is unpleasant to drink. We also installed a water purification system to avoid the need to purchase each month jugs for a tank, which is already paying for itself.
While this might make it seem as if the Office for Vocations is in good place financially, there are several challenges. God has blessed us with five new seminarians for the diocese this year. This means that tuition costs continue to increase, while donations remain down and Partners in Charity once again did not make its goal. While the budget for the new fiscal year is “fully-funded,” I have been asked once again to try to end this upcoming fiscal year under budget so that the diocese does not run a deficit. This proves a challenge when the largest cost remains tuition, a price that we cannot reduce on our own. It requires limiting what we are able to do to build a culture of vocations in the Diocese. When a man approaches the office and is looking for resources on discernment, do we have copies of vocation books and pamphlets in stock that we can share with him? Or in the future, will the office be able to subsidize parishes that might not be able to afford the summer stipend for a seminarian, even if that would be the best assignment for the man? Additionally, there were many unforeseen expenses that have arisen already in this first month of the fiscal year that were not budgeted.
After two bikes were stolen from the garage and the car of a guest was broken into, the garage doors were fixed to secure them and security cameras were installed to monitor the parking lot. This was made possible through funds raised by the AOH/LAOH at a Mardi Gras pancake breakfast. Above is one of the monitors.
Recently, a small dryer issue indicated a problem with the vents leading outside not properly drawing and circulating air. This causes the dryer to be energy inefficient, needing more cycles to dry clothes, to overheat, potentially shortening the life of the dryer, and could cause a back up of lint in the vent, increasing the risk of fire. The estimated cost of this correction to the dryer vent is $1,301. Below is a picture of the lint that was stuck in the vent.
A small fire in the chapel in August at the House of Studies, which fortunately did no lasting damage, revealed that the fire alarm system was not properly working. Diagnostics on the system were done, and temporary battery operated ones were installed in the meantime for safety. However, due to the size of the house, the city requires a system that is hardwired, meaning the obligatory repairs to the system are estimated at $2,694. Lastly, the boiler and related systems (HVAC pipes and circulator) had several problems in September. Because the pipes that needed repair had asbestos, the cost of the repair ran over $6,000.
In summary, the Office for Vocations takes very seriously being accountable for the resources provided by the diocese and our mission partners. The work of vocations continues to bear fruit in our diocese with a higher number of seminarians this year, which means increased tuition costs. The House of Studies, formerly the Holy Name of Jesus Rectory, was originally part of the Holy Name of Jesus Complex, along with the parish church, the school, and the convent. The rectory was built from 1922-1928. Since 1988, the entire complex has been on the National Register of Historic Places, and of the four, the rectory is the only one still owned and maintained by the diocese. While maintaining any historic building is costly, it is part of the patrimony not only of the Diocese of Worcester and the local community, but of the city and the nation. Maintaining this historic treasure for the future remains an important work we undertake.
We are grateful to our many mission partners, who through their prayers, time, talent, and financial support greatly assist the Office. Many small projects are done by volunteers, and friends of the Office donated items to replace a broken car, refrigerator, and dryer. Special thanks go to the Serra Clubs of our diocese, along with many Knights of Columbus councils, the State Council of the Knights, and our local chapter of the AOH/LAOH for support throughout the year.
While the office is principally funded by Partners in Charity, it is possible to make direct donations to the Office of Vocations on our website. Donations go into our general fund unless otherwise specified (e.g. tuition, maintenance, etc.). If you would like to make a gift to assist with some of these current repairs expected to take place within the next few months, to assist with tuition, or help install more parish vocation kiosks, the link is here.
Thank you once again for your ongoing generosity both financially and prayerfully. We could not do what we do if not for the support of our many mission partners. All of our partners, whether financial, volunteer, or our prayer warriors are regularly remembered at Masses celebrated at the House of Studies.
May God bless you.
Father Donato Infante
PS If you received this newsletter by e-mail forwarding and would like to sign up, please visit our website
Holy Hour of Reparation
In light of the shameful incident involving the desecration of a parish in New Orleans, the Office for Vocations is hosting a holy hour in reparation for sins
committed by priests and to pray for holiness among our priests.
Please join us at 7 PM on Monday, November 9th at 7 PM at North
American Martyrs, in Auburn. Face masks required.
Traveling Holy Hour for Vocations
Join us for the traveling holy hour for vocations on
Monday, November 30th at 7 pm
at Saint Mary Parish, Shrewsbury. All are welcome to attend and pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life in our diocese. Face masks required.
Above, the downstairs was renovated to create a beautiful foyer to welcome those who come for the Office of Hispanic Ministry.
Are we missing something?...
By Jon Amidon
In many ways a call to a priestly vocation is not for the individual, rather it is for those around him. This may seem a bit odd at first as it will be the individual that is accepted as a seminarian, attends seminary, formed into an Image of Christ, and is ordained. So if all of this is true, why is it that this particular vocation is not for them?
Well this is a hard question to answer. First and foremost one must realize that when a priest offers the Mass, he does so for the people of God. When he hears confessions they are not his own sins but those of others, where he will bring them the tender mercy of our Loving Father. Every act that he does is not for himself, but for others. This might make it sound that the lay faithful have very little to do in their own sanctification. However, this could not be further from the truth.
The call to holiness is a universal calling or vocation that all of the baptized are called to live out in every moment. Ok, so now what? What do I do with this? Well, there is something that the lay faithful have that a priest does not, that being the decision of where you work, go to school, and participate in recreational activities. Unfortunately, the very simple reality is that a priest is only one person, meaning that they are not necessarily able to go to the places that many can and often do. Most of our parishes have only one priest, others might not even have that. At our baptisms we were chosen by God to be his, and are incorporated into Holy Mother Church. It is in this family of grace, where we are all called to be lights in the world either as missionaries within the laity or as sacrificial priests or religious.
Before Jon was a seminarian he worked in active evangelization at Rutgers University. He is pictured here with the other missionaries he worked with.
By now I think you know where I am going with this… Believe it or not, I’m not trying to say that we need more priests or religious, rather what we need is an active laity. As I have mentioned previously, there are indeed places where priests or religious simply are not able to go, and that is where you come in. All of us have been given the command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19,20) Now, this does not mean that we must impose rules as a sort of forceful virtuosity, but it rather means to inspire by sharing the Gospel.
The Gospel is, without question, the most effective means of conversion in everyone’s life. However, evangelization starts at home, first with ourselves. In my own life, once I made it to college, I had to make a choice to live out my life as a Catholic or walk away. In all honesty it would have been much easier to walk away. It was only after I saw the witness of others my own age making the radical choice to live out the Gospel, that I was able to do so as well. It took a interior conversion for me to even first recognize that I had the grace to live the Christian faith. However, this is not the end, rather the beginning. Once we realize that we have this grace, we need others to help us, this is what our parishes are for: to foster our love of the Catholic faith and traditions. By spending time with others, we are brought into deeper conversion, first by the light of the Gospel, second by the fruit of faithful disciples..
The life of the parish is much more than just Mass on Sunday, religious education, or even the sacraments. We are a community that is united in the pursuit of holiness. It may seem strange, but have you ever thought of the reason why a parish might have a basketball or a volleyball league? Well, the answer is simple, to build up a community. It is these events that are our opportunity to invite others in to see us interact with one another, cheer on the kids from the neighborhood, and to foster friendships that can last a lifetime. Religious education only goes so far, and history has shown that it is often not the best way to show someone our faith. Rather, it is in how we interact with each other, both internally and externally, that shows others who we really are. The importance of the sports leagues, youth groups, card leagues, knitting circles, you name it, is more than we can ever imagine. It is in these environments that we can invite others to experience Christian charity and thus lead them to the Gospel.
Many do not realize that a priest’s primary function in performing the sacraments is actually not merely saving souls, but that the graces received from the sacrament would open to the community to engage in external active evangelization. This is also true for seminarians. Yes, we are in the parish to learn how it functions and to discern well our vocation but it is more important to be part of the life of a parish and to see it flourish. As seminarians we are always on the move, from seminary, to parishes, to different diocesan commitments we are almost always moving three or four times a year. Yet we are still called to bring the Gospel to all we encounter. We do this in solidarity with you, even while we are away, we pray earnestly for the conversion of many to a deep relationship with Christ. COVID had certainly tested resolve of as our gatherings are very much restricted now and may be for the foreseeable future. However, we cannot let this stop us. We need, perhaps now more than ever, to see the hope that is found in our faith, and to share it with others. So I want to challenge you all to talk to a neighbor, a coworker, or even someone in your own family and share with them the joy that your faith has brought you, and live this joy out every day. Please continue to pray for vocations from our young, for holy marriages, and for an increase in rich family life centered in Christ; as we pray for you and your intentions.
Evangelization is an important part of seminary formation. Pictured here is our seminarian Jon Amidon (front row third from the right) along with others from Mount St. Mary's Seminary on a trip to West Chester University. There they actively sought out conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel.
Father Donato Infante
on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 1:56PM