Sunday, December 05, 2004

Didn't get caught in the mud
I think the reason I only got about two hours of sleep last night is that I have been fretting all week about this weekend. You see, this weekend marked the beginning of a sorely needed registration drive in my parish. When I tried mailing out copies of my Pastoral Letter back in October, I soon stopped when I was daily watching envelope after envelope return to the parish because the address we had for a parishioner was wrong. So much postage was wasted. I knew we somehow needed to update our mailing list. In addition, far too many of our contribution envelopes for last year were never picked up by the people to whom they belong, and still many other boxes never had an owner to begin with. This is should not be taken as a stereotype, but I knew the real challenge of this registration drive would be with my sizeable Hispanic congregation. The notion of registration in a parish is such a clean, (Puritanical?), American idea that the value of registration just doesn't get into the Hispanic consciousness. Still further, many of my parishioners are illegal and quite afraid of putting their real, or even assumed, names anywhere, fearing that the government might come and seize the parish registration list. And as if registration isn't a tough enough idea to sell to the Hispanics, I don't even need to mention the idea of contribution envelopes and their weekly use!

Well, this first weekend of the three week drive went unbelievably smoothly. I was afraid it would all wreck and get caught in the mud, so to speak. The parish orders about 300 boxes of contribution envelopes (pretty telling, considering that the parish is at least 815 families!) each year. As of the start of the drive, we had about 210 boxes labeled with the names of those who regularly use them. That left about 90 boxes with no owner. As of this moment, after all the Masses, there are only 22 of those 90 unclaimed boxes. We registered 54 new families who took contribution boxes. Fourteen previously registered families, who had not used envelopes, took a box. We registered a few new families who did not want a box. And of the 210 boxes that go to regular contributors, only 80 remain in the back of church after this first weekend. Hopefully the rest will be picked up soon.

By all standards, the drive went very smoothly and, whether more regular contribution come in or not, I can at least say that less parish money is being wasted on paying for envelopes that remain unclaimed in the parish office. I just can't believe how well it all went. Hopefully, there weren't any holes in the information gathering process, such as a volunteer forgetting to write down the ID number of the envelopes on a person's registration form. I think I may need to take my staff out for lunch this week to celebrate!

No comments: