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Super stewardship leap at St. Anthony

St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica has one very big disadvantage that most other parishes do not. Overcoming that big disadvantage may be the very reason why the parish is thriving and is the recipient of the 2015 Bishop Curtis Guillory Parish Stewardship Award.
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica Stewardship Committee member Tim Farnie seemed to echo the feeling of the entire parish Stewardship Committee when he said reason the parish is thriving is because “We are family.”
To become a family, St Anthony Cathedral Basilica parish had to overcome a big obstacle.
“You really have to want to go to our church,” Farnie said referring to the fact that the parish is often not considered a neighborhood parish even though it does have geographic boundaries like other parishes.
Msgr. Jeremiah McGrath, pastor for the Cathedral and rector of the Basilica, said those from other parts of the greater Beaumont area who want to make the Cathedral their home must commit to be a really involved and active member of the community for a number of years.
Though new members promise to be involved, distance between parishioners still presents challenges since many may not know each other well.
“We had to find a way to be neighbors since we don’t always live close to each other and work up to becoming family,” Farnie said.
One of the ways that the parish has fostered this welcome feeling is by setting up a welcome table on the plaza outside of the church after each Mass to offer visitors a small wrapped gift. The parish also does fellowship events on the plaza like “Cookies and Lemonade” and “Soup-it-Up Sunday” to create a neighborly feeling.
Communicating with parishioners who “don’t live on the same block” also presented a challenge.
Stewardship Committee Chair Monique Slaughter offered changes in communication as one of the reason for the parish’s recent successes.
“We’ve been able to get what’s going on in the parish out there so everyone can see it,” Slaughter said.
The parish uses Groupcast, a web-based program that calls everyone on the scheduled list with a message recorded by someone from the parish. Email has also been a great tool.
“We sent 2,590 emails today,” said Bill Gier, a committee member who also serves as volunteer parish director of Promotions and Communications. “We use our web page, Facebook, Beaumont Main Street and Lamar radio.”
Communications with parishioners has grown, and so has communication between the ministries.
“The Stewardship Committee members went to the ministries and offered help. The committee worked hard to make sure the ministries knew about each other and all of the help available,” Gier said.
“It got the ministries motivated to be involved, gave them a way to express their needs and someone to talk to,” said Jane Ann Kemplay, Stewardship Committee member.
A great example is the way the ministries have worked together these past few years to put on a Ministry Fair. This November parishioners had a chance to eat chili cooked by one of the deacons while visiting with all of the parish’s ministry leadership at one time.
St. Anthony’s Stewardship journey has also included the larger community in a variety of ways.
Some Other Place, where Beaumont’s needy go for a hot meal, is closed on Sunday. So, members of the St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica Sack Lunch Ministry gather at 8:30 every Sunday morning to make sack lunches for those who depend on Some Other Place.
St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica’s Food Bank ministry has encouraged parishioners to help and it has worked. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica is the number one church in Beaumont for contributions to the Southeast Texas Food Bank. The Food Bank recently recognized the parish’s contributions at its Annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner at Rogers Park.
It’s not just time that parishioners contribute to the needy. The parish’s annual report shows that parishioners and friends of the parish contributed more than $150,000 directly to the poor during the last fiscal year.
Parishioners are also concerned about securing the future. Many of them contribute to the parish’s endowment fund which is held in the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Beaumont. That endowment fund is earmarked for the Cathedral’s preservation and development.
Msgr. McGrath has his own insight into why the parish has made gigantic strides recently in its Stewardship journey.
“We have a deep growing relationship with Jesus and also there has been a greater intensification in living our communal life that has flowed into a much more generous commitment to Stewardship,” he said.
When each St. Anthony Stewardship committee member was asked to describe the parish in one word, they responded individually with these: welcoming, diversity, inspiring, family, loving.

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By | 2017-05-03T15:23:01+00:00 November 28th, 2016|CNS, English, This Just In|0 Comments
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