St. Mark on Stewardship

My Dear Parish Family:

As I continue my fourth year as your pastor, I write this official letter to you, inviting you to participate in the Annual Collection of our parish. This gives me the opportunity to share with you the joys, successes, sorrows, and needs of St. Mark Parish. This is truly a loving parish where so many give so much of their time, talent, and treasure, and I am deeply grateful to you for your continued support of the mission of our parish.

This past year the parish family has seen the joy of forty-one Baptisms, sixty-five First Communions, sixty-one Confirmations, four Marriages, forty-five new parish registrations, and we welcomed four new Catholics through our RCIA program. On a sad note, the Sacrament of the Sick was administered to seventy-two patients, and we celebrated sixty-five funeral Masses.

Many parishioners assist me by serving as Parish Trustees, on the Parish Advisory and Finance Councils, and Parish Pastoral Planning Team. The parish participated in the Annual Catholic Appeal of the Bridgeport Diocese and we again exceeded our goal of $137,000. The final amount of our Annual Catholic Appeal was $152,171 from 380 donors. This year we started our online giving program. This is still in its initial stage but going in the right direction. Programs for adult parishioners continue with three Divine Mercy Cenacles, Bereavement Group, First Friday Holy Hour led by Deacon Paul, First Saturday Devotions, Contemplative and La Pieta prayer groups, and ‘Formed’ and Scripture Study groups. Saint Mark Knights of Columbus Saint John Paul II Council 8 continues to lead the parish in praying the Rosary in the months of May and October and on the 13th of every month, and they also continue their Annual Lent and Advent food collections. Activities for giving and helping those in our communities include Merton House, Lord’s Kitchen, Feed the Hungry, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Sterling House Food Pantry, Sister Theresa Tremblay’s ministry, Blessed Sacrament, and other parishes in Bridgeport, “Project from the Heart,” the Annual Thanksgiving Food collection, the Giving Tree, the Annual Mother’s Day/
Father’s Day Baby Shower, Parish Nurses’ Blood Pressure screening program, the ongoing Gift Card collection, Families Helping Families, and Hands to Hearts. All Programs are coordinated by our priests, deacons, and many dedicated parishioners.

New last year, we added another ministry in our parish called “the Seven Sisters.” Their main purpose is to pray for the pastor and Associate for the success of our ministry. The Social Events Committee organized a Parish Picnic in September and the “Rat Pack” fundraiser in October. Both were very well liked and attended by our parish family and guests. The Welcome Committee coordinated with St. Mark School an open house program to welcome new families to the school and the parish, and also organized a Mass for the newly baptized and a dinner reception for new parishioners, as well as hosting Parishioner Appreciation Weekend. The Committee for Liturgy and Worship hosted a bus trip to The National Shrine of Divine Mercy and is working hard to help our Readers and Eucharistic Minsters with the new Liturgical norms of the diocese. Deacon Andy Dzujna continues to work with the adults in the RCIA program, new parents in our pre-baptismal class, and with the children in the monthly children’s Mass. Programs for children and teens include our Religious Education classes, a Children’s Choir, Youth Ministry groups, and St. Mark School. We owe many thanks to our Director of Religious Education, Mrs. Patricia Nettleton, and her dedicated volunteer teachers and aids; to our Youth Minister, Mr. Jared Forcier, and his volunteers; and to the school principal, Mr. Scott Clough, and his devoted teachers. Youth Ministry membership is increasing and many participated in Steubenville East Conference last July and helped with the annual Easter Egg Hunt for the parish children and Lenten Dinner. This year our youth group is starting a new program for teens called Life Teen. It is an excellent and lively program which helps young people to grow in the spiritual life as well as get involved with their community. Thank you also to Peter Nelson, Director of Music, and Maria Damianou, Cantor, and the choir for leading us in prayerful and joyful music and song. Lay adult ministries include our faithful Ushers, as well as our weekend and weekday Readers and Eucharistic Ministers who are regularly scheduled for parish Masses, Eucharistic Ministers who visit the homebound and sick at Bridgeport Hospital, the regular adorers in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, children ministry team, and Bereavement Group. Besides Communion Service and Mass once a month at Lord Chamberlain, Fr. Russ continues to celebrate Mass once a month at Atria Senior Living, where several of our parishioners are residing. Last fall 15 new altar servers trained and we now have sixty-two boys and girls who serve at parish Masses. Men’s League, Ladies’ Guild, Knights of Columbus, and our Youth Groups continue to support the parish with their physical help and ongoing financial assistance at parish functions.

The purpose of the Annual Collection is to supplement our weekly collection for some unexpected expenses. Last year we collected about $40K through our Annual Collection, which was very helpful as expenses for electrical repairs and the front entrance project went over our budget. I humbly request that you prayerfully consider a donation of $100 per individual and $200 per family. If you are in a position to do so, we would be grateful for donations greater than the recommended amount. If not, whatever you can afford will be greatly appreciated. Some of you have already heard of Bishop Caggiano’s campaign “We Stand With Christ.” You will have to donate to that as well as to our regular weekly collection and Annual Collection. I don’t want to overburden you by asking for more money, but I don’t want to drop the Annual Collection because it brings a substantial amount of income to the parish to address unexpected repairs. Your support helps to keep all of these wonderful ministries alive and helps strengthen our building structures. I am extremely grateful for this.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Birendra,