How do I respond to my pastor?

Our church has sent out 2 letters to all parishioners with an appeal for us to commit to additional weekly contributions to the parish, in addition to our regular weekly contributions. Our parish collects the largest weekly collections in the Galveston-Houston diocese. It is a very large parish with the largest property in the diocese, has a very large staff, many programs, and alot of excess and extravagance. Below is part of the appeal letter that I am reflecting on how I will respond to it:

“Our files indicate that you have not made regular use of the parish envelopes this year. It may be that you are actually quite generous even though the parish has no record of your consistent offertory support. As your pastor, I ask that you consider doing two things for God, for your parish and for yourself. First, use parish envelopes regularly. Second, after prayerfully deciding on the amount which you have resolved to give each week, indicate this amount on the committment card included with this letter and return it in the envelope provided during the offertory this weekend.”

While I do understand the parishes need to forecast incoming funds, I have preferred for the last 24 years not to use envelopes. I am not weathly or even well to do. I have been married to an abusive drug addict for 22 years that has always taken all of our money and has left us in financial ruins that I don’t know if we will ever get out of. He ran up credit card debt over $40,000. Our home is literally falling apart and is barely liveable due to him taking all of our money every week, and his anger caused alot of destruction in our home. Simple medical issues have been let go for years.

I am a practicing Catholic and always contribute what I can in the weekly collections. I buy sneakers for the sneaker drive every year for the school children, sponsor a family at Thanksgiving by purchasing their dinner, and our Wish upon a star Christmas program of buying gifts for needy children. I have been a catechist teacher for the last 12 years, and donate alot of graphic/art services and volunteer time to the church.

I do not know how to respond to this, as it will be difficult for me to commit to additional contributions, yet he is requesting that we do return the form. I am not thrilled about using the church envelopes. Our parish being one of the wealthiest, well, I don’t want additional letters when they track my contributions because I cannot give 10% at this time in my life.

I love our pastor and our church and do not know how to respond to this in a way that benefits the church, and still keeps me in support of the church and the additional things that they want to buy and purchase.

Thank you in advance for your advice and time, especially since this is so long.

Peace Be With You

Dear Existence,

Why not just write a letter to your pastor, telling him your situation. As a former pastor myself, I cannot imagine that he would demand more from you under the present circumstances.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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