This column is partly about the impact on parish programs of the change in the New York State minimum-wage law last year, but it’s also about justice in our parish. Parish leadership is always trying to balance the right of our employees to a living wage (as Catholic teaching and simple justice require), with the real financial pressures on families that pay for our services. The new law impelled us to revisit that balance so that the parish would maintain a just wage structure for its employees while also helping parish families to budget and to plan.
When the law was signed the Parish Trustees, Finance Council, and I agreed that, starting each September (the start of the parish fiscal year) for the next several years, lay employees would (with a few exceptions) receive a $1 per hour raise. Parish programs would adjust their tuition and fees at some point over the following year in order to cover this cost.
Since the new law raises the minimum wage each year for the next five years, we have to expect that to comply we will be raising lay employee compensation each year and that there will be tuition/fee increases each year to cover that cost.
Since some employees are supported out of general funds rather than through program revenue (for example, maintenance and parish office workers), the new law will also require increased generosity from all parishioners in the Sunday offering.
Parish leadership and I are very careful to use your payments and donations wisely; and no one who works for the parish makes anything more than a barely-adequate wage. I am writing this to help parishioners to understand why it is necessary for us to raise tuitions and fees for the programs that your children participate in, and similarly to ask for more generous giving in the Sunday offering each year.
We estimate that the additional cost to the parish each year is an additional $100,000. So, after five years, we anticipate an additional half-million dollars in payroll costs. Again, I think this is just and proper; but it will require sacrifice from those who use our services so we can pay fairly the people who provide those services.
As we approach Thanksgiving I urge every parish household to consider whether you can increase your support of our parish so that the people who serve you here can receive a just wage. If you can, make a plan to increase your weekly (or monthly) giving, and begin now. If you use WeShare to give electronically, all it takes is a few clicks to change the regular amount. If you do not use WeShare yet, I encourage you to learn about it and, if it’s right for you, to begin. Click the icon on the parish website home page, or pick up a brochure at the doors of the church. I’ll say more about WeShare next week.
I am convinced that the work of our parish, as a whole and in its programs, offers great value to the lives and souls of our young people. I hope you will join me in practicing good stewardship so that we can continue to change lives through the power of the Risen Christ. Until next week, peace.