A few weeks ago, I wrote about how heavily the cathedral has come to be used since we’ve moved in, and how having that many people coming through the doors impacts the costs of maintenance and upkeep on our facility. While many of you said how much you appreciated the insights into what is involved in keeping this space running, we’ve also heard people talking about what we do (or what they suspect we do) spend our money on.
Someone recently speculated that one of the reasons we’re running a deficit must be because we’re spending huge sums of money on flowers and other decorative items. According to their calculations, since someone they knew had recently spent several thousand dollars for flowers at their wedding, we must surely be spending at least that much here each month, given the large array of plants and flowers we use to decorate the Cathedral.
Let me assure you that our floral expenditure is nowhere near that for a year, let alone for a month. In fact, for all of 2016, our entire expenses for plants and flowers averaged less than $200 per month. Note that this also included all our Easter flowers, Christmas poinsettias and our large Christmas tree, as well as planting supplies. Many months we didn’t spend anything at all.
So why is there a perception that we must somehow be spending so much more than we are? The answer is simple: Volunteers! We get a huge amount of support from our volunteers, providing services for free that we could never hope to pay for, especially on a tight budget.
All our church décor at the cathedral is created and installed by dedicated teams of volunteer workers, spending hundreds of hours of their time here each year. Dedicated teams of volunteers create and maintain large numbers of flower arrangements or grow and maintain our trees, plants and other greenery. Another group creates fabric displays, banners, art panels and other displays for seasonal décor in the cathedral.
This was especially noticeable prior to our Easter celebrations as the décor teams arrived a day or so before each liturgy to again transform the Worship Space and Welcome area. On the Saturday before Easter, a small army of people were here well before 9:00 am. Guys were on ladders hanging draping around the church, ladies were arranging flowers, other groups were changing the mobile over the font, hanging banners, setting up lighting, moving chairs or putting things away after Good Friday. Without those parishioners giving us their Easter Saturday (which they do year after year after year), our Easter celebrations would be very different and much plainer.
Décor is only one example of this commitment. Throughout the year, we depend heavily on volunteer support to supplement our very small core of staff members. Examples include Sunday Liturgical Ministries, Music Ministry, Weekday Mass Ministries, Baptism Preparation, Confirmation Preparation, Faith Formation groups, Youth Ministry volunteers, Pastoral Care volunteers, Pictorial Directory volunteers, Office volunteers, Kitchen and Laundry volunteers, Hospitality volunteers, Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Committee, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, Community Outreach, lawn mowing, cleaning bees, etc., etc., etc.
Our church serves the largest parish population in the Diocese. To do that, we absolutely depend upon these dozens, possibly hundreds of volunteers to make sure that all these important tasks are attended to each week. While they provide huge value dollar-wise, they are even more valuable to us for their commitment and support. It’s not just about the bottom line, but without their help… without your help, we’d be unable to do a fraction of the things we do as a faith community.
So, from all of us in the offices who do our best to try to keep things organized and running somewhat smoothly, thank you for all that you do. We are Holy Family. This is our home.