Father Eric Banecker’s Message for the First Sunday of Advent

Dear friends in Christ,

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” This beautiful song – especially associated with the “O Antiphons” of the final days of Advent – surely comes to mind for many of us as we begin this new Liturgical Year and, with it, the Season of Advent.

Advent literally means “coming.” And if something or someone is coming, then someone else is waiting. Waiting for what, though? For the people of the Old Covenant, it was simple: they were waiting for the promised Messiah, the one who would finally liberate Israel from the travails of war, oppression, and division. They were waiting for one like Moses who knew God face to face. They were waiting for a new David who would shepherd God’s chosen people. Of course, when the Messiah did arrive, he did so in a most unexpected way. He chose not a palace but a stable. He desired not a retinue of courtiers but poor shepherd children. His throne was not made with gold or silver but with wood and nails.

My dear friends, we still sing this song because while we acknowledge that the Christ has truly come, we know that this world is still in need of experiencing the peace and reconciliation which he won for us. We join our voices to “captive Israel” because we are captive in so many ways to false notions of success and prosperity. Many are captives to sin, to anxiety and depression, to the lie that we are not worthy of being loved by God. But he does love us, every one of us. And he sent his Son into our world precisely to ransom us and bring us out of our self-imposed exile. This Advent, we ask the Lord to teach us how to rejoice in the first coming of Christ, even as we wait in joyful hope for his coming in glory.

May God be Blessed!

 

-Father Eric Banecker

Financial Report to Parishioners 2021

October 15, 2021

Dear friends in Christ,

As your pastor, I consider it a fundamental duty to present you with periodic information of the financial state of our parish. As you know, the life of a parish can never be measured in dollars and cents. The Church is not a business; she is, as the Second Vatican Council said, “the sacrament of salvation” through which humanity encounters the living God. At the same time, the role of a pastor is both spiritual and temporal. You, our parishioners, along with many friends of our parish, contribute through time, talent, and treasure to our common life, and it is incumbent upon me to be a good steward of those gifts.

 

The attached Budget-to-Actual report for the fiscal year which ended June 30, 2021 is the fruit of a lot of hard work. Our parish had not produced a budget in several years, so I had to begin essentially from scratch upon my arrival. Thankfully, Mrs. Colleen Jones, our new business manager, did amazing work in putting together a good picture of the financial state of the parish. I am grateful as well to Mr. Timothy Potens and the other members of the finance council for helping me make some difficult but important decisions that have put us is a more stable financial position.

 

Part of our success last fiscal year involved a marked increase in our Sunday offertory collections. At a time when many parishes have experienced a decrease in this area, we experienced an increase of about 15%. Thank you for your generosity. Every contribution – large or small – is truly appreciated and important in keeping our parish going.

 

Some continuing challenges include the fact that our tight budget – even with the offertory increase – leaves little room for unexpected issues. We also still have significant indebtedness to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the form of loans for capital projects and unpaid assessment and insurance bills. When I arrived, this debt totaled $748,368. Thanks to help from Colleen and the finance council, we have already made strides to address this, but it remains a matter of concern, especially considering the deferred maintenance on our historic church. I believe we need to think creatively about how to address immediate issues in our church building by raising the necessary funds. These conversations are ongoing.

 

Saint Francis de Sales Parish is a vibrant Catholic community. I am moved everyday by the faithfulness of so many parishioners, and by your generosity. Our Sunday Masses are a wonderful expression of the universality of the Catholic Church, encompassing persons of so many ages, races, and backgrounds. As we continue on our personal journeys to the Lord, we recognize that we journey as a Body, and we are comforted that DeSales continues to be an oasis on that sometimes-difficult road.

 

Feel free to make an appointment with me if you have any questions or concerns about this report. Thank you for all you do!

 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Eric J. Banecker
Pastor

 

Note: To view the Budget to Actual comparison from the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 please click here.

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – October 17, 2021

Dear friends in Christ,

Our parish continues to come back to life after the long winter of the pandemic. Our parish school, PREP program, IHM Center for Literacy, and Star Harbor Senior Center are all operational, even as they implement sound practices to prevent the spread of covid-19. Some of our parish groups are meeting in person again, including our Fides et Ratio monthly reading group. Our beautiful choir and all our liturgical musicians and ministers continue to enhance our worship experience each week. Thank you to all who do so much to make our parish the vibrant, active community it is. May Christ, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be the source of all our efforts, and may bringing others into that same communion of love be the goal of all we do!

As we approach the season of falling leaves and (hopefully not too much) falling snow, our parish is in need of a few volunteers who can help with keeping our property clean and safe for parishioners and visitors. Please see the message inside the bulletin this week for more information.

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 2nd, which is All Souls’ Day, the day we set aside each year to pray for all the faithful departed, which is one of the spiritual works of mercy. In addition to our usual 7am Mass, we will have a second Mass at 7pm. I’ve sent letters to family members of those whose funerals were here at St. Francis de Sales this year, but if you have someone else you would like remembered who has died in the past year, please contact Jean Jordan, our parish secretary, so we can add the name to the prayer of the faithful.

Enclosed in this bulletin is a special message and budget report about last fiscal year, which concluded June 30, 2021. Please take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

 

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker