Dear Parishioners: photo 1d (4)What a tremendous turn out we had for our “Helping Hands” Event for Catholic Relief Services and End Hunger Now. A couple of hundred parishioners of every age came to the OLM School Gym to help pack meals for the poor and hungry in West Africa. An assembly line of these volunteers packed 20,000 meals in just an hour and half! I wish to thank Dudley and Kathy Bennett who helped to organize this great event for our parish. All of the meal packages are to be sent to West Africa where each can provide six meals. I am grateful for the many people from our parish and school who volunteered to put mercy in action at OLM. In the name of the poor and hungry, I thank all those who contributed so generously to this OLM Outreach effort.

This week enclosed in the bulletin is the Annual Parish Financial Report which was approved by the Finance Committee and sent to Bishop Tobin last month. I wish it were a more positive report but unfortunately due to a large drop in enrollment at our parish school last year and a major increase in healthcare costs we ran a deficit of $100,000. On the positive side our income has remained consistent and some of our expenses last year were one time expenditures. The Annual Collection was strong last year and helped pay for one time projects. I am grateful to our Parish Finance Committee and Parish Auditors for helping with this report. Their guidance and advice are helpful in securing the future of our parish financially and fiscally. I hope you are able to review the enclosed report in the coming week.

Also sent to the Bishop with the Annual Financial Report is the Status Animarium Report. This report is about “the status of the DSC_0013souls” in the parish. This report includes the census of the parish and the number of people receiving the sacraments over the year from September 2013 through September 2014. We presently have 2,245 registered families at Our Lady of Mercy. There are 375 students in our parish school and 400 students are registered in our Religious Education Program. We baptized 50 new Catholics this year and received 4 adults into the Catholic Church. This is an increase from last year’s 40 baptisms. This year 83 children received First Holy Communion and 93 young adults received the Sacrament of Confirmation. These are great signs of growth and vitality for our parish. We don’t track the number of Confessions but we know that 83 First Communion Candidates went to First Confession. We estimate that nearly 30 people come to Confession a week. We offer Confessions on Saturdays at 3:00PM and Mondays at 6:00PM.

We had only 4 weddings this year and that is a sharp decrease from the previous year’s 12 weddings. The number of weddings both in churches and even civilly are down across the country. Many young people are choosing to either not get married and cohabitate before ever getting married. In other cases many Catholics choose to get married outside the Church with the increased popularity of “destination weddings.” We administered the Sacrament of the Sick to DSC_0115over 100 people this year. This includes people at Kent Hospital where Fr. Connors and I cover two days a month. And sadly we celebrated 46 funerals this year as we commended to God these faithful souls.

Again I would remind you that if someone is sick at home or hospitalized to please call the Parish Office to let us know. Due to privacy laws we are not notified when parishioners are hospitalized. We are happy to visit and offer the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of someone who is homebound we can also arrange for them to regularly receive Holy Communion. I am away this weekend attending the Annual Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops where I serve as a consultant to the Marriage Committee. Let us continue to pray for the souls of the faithful departed during this All Souls Month of November. The Pats are off this week but what a game last week. God Bless.