Not Getting Hit on, Just Hit up

Our Archdiocese has embarked on this campaign to raise funds to support various services/programs/functions (seminary, ministries to the needy, schools, etc.), and to turn a percentage of the money raised by individual parishes back to those individual parishes for improvements/programs/what-have-you. Great. I have no problem with that. I think we get much-needed improvements to our parking lot, among other things, out of the deal. We got letters about a month or so ago with a suggestion of what we should pledge.

I've always given what I could, so what they hit me up for was what the law office in my previous career life would call "highball." (Of course, my parents--my models for generosity to the Church--got a figure that kept my mom up all night. I don't want to get into it, but my parents suffered a financial setback 4th qtr 2009. That didn't help.) The letter said not to respond just yet but to think it over and expect a phone call from a parish volunteer.

The call never came, and things got busy at Christmastime, so I put the letter in my filing.

This weekend at Mass, we were handed pledge cards and being asked to make (somewhat of a) commitment.

Personally, I don't find stuff like this during Mass appropriate, but I understand why it's done--to give the pastor has the opportunity to speak to all of us at once. And I know he doesn't enjoy talking about money in general, so he wasn't having a blast, either.

So, there was that unpleasantness, but what really irritated me was the stupid chart on the back of the pledge card that tried to put the pledging in perspective as a sacrifice.

A happy-face perspective on sacrifice that didn't relate to me.

"$27 monthly is a trip to the movies!" (Um, it's maybe $10 if I go. Alone.)

"$84 monthly is dinner out at a restaurant!" (Where? The Palm? 84 bucks is more than I pay a month for my car insurance.)

I think you can guess my point: These are correlations for married people. Families.

Well, of course that makes sense--I mean, families are what keep parishes going. A family can add new members to the church. I will consider myself lucky if in my lifetime I've inspired one person to think about his or her faith life.

But really, I felt left out. I felt even worse because I'm not sure how I can promise to give monthly for a couple years, when I am not working in a permanent job yet. (That situation is a whole other post for a whole other time.)

So I didn't fill out the card. Actually, I didn't even take one when they handed them out up in the choir loft, and probably the usher didn't think to push one on me because it's generally assumed that I live with my parents still (you know, not being married and all). I did, however, change my mind after Mass when a blank one turned up in a pew, and I put it in my purse to take home and think things over.

When Mom and I walked back to our cars, I complained how annoying those equivalencies were. How I felt "dissed" as a single, and what were they thinking? How can I give what they expect of me when I'm just a me?

Without missing a beat, my mom said, "Their marketing people have always been horrible."


She was right, I had to admit. This wasn't the time to strike a blow for single people in the Church. In fact, it was pretty much an equal opportunity irritant. This was the time to think, check off the box of what I think I can do, and pray that it will happen.

Hey, I probably should include a note that if they want the money, they'd better pray I have a job in the Fall, too.


Maggie May said…
Back in my church-going days, this kind of stuff used to bug me too. I understand the premise, and that not-for-profit organizations depend on this kind of thing to survive, but the tithe thing (or things like this) just bother me. It doesn't always treat everyone on a case by case basis, considering their individual circumstances. It feels like the government taking out taxes, and even that is more individualized in some cases.

I am sorry about the dissing for the singles too. No one ever needs yet another way to feel isolated or excluded.
Kate P said…
MM--I have to add that we are fortunate in that we have a very sympathetic, down-to-earth priest as our pastor. I mean, really, he just wants to say Mass, not talk numbers and costs. I really don't think the figures were coming from within the parish; I suspect they either had to apply some outside-generated formula based on our giving history, or reported the stats to the archdiocesan office (where I'm sure the marketing people are) to let them figure the "recommendations" out.
Let's face it--my parish is huge, the Philly Archdiocese is huge, and I'm in the minority. And I'm gonna say it one more time, because it makes me feel better: those marketing people are horrible. *Ahhh.*
Angela Noelle said…
I know this isn't exactly your point, but I hate it when charities try to give you their "recommended" donation figures and then justify them by way of making you feel ridiculous and frivolous. I mean, saying $10 for Haiti is like a couple of cups of coffee for the month, but when they're pushing for big figures, it just seems incredibly presumptuous.
Kate, I think a lot about how people are marginalized at church. Mother's day comes to mind. I think about infertile women who want babies, and women who for one reason or another never married although they wanted families. If even a few words were devoted to these women it would be better, I think, than pretending that we all get what we want.

I also dislike those frivolous-spending things, including the articles about how you can put aside an extra $X per month if you quit doing all those stupid things that I don't do in the first place.
Kate P said…
Angela Noelle--that's what it is, that air of "you're being frivolous and how dare you go out for dinner." Arrrgh.

Laura--You definitely got me thinking. I don't think it's wrong to celebrate, say, mothers on Mother's Day, and fortunately my church doesn't make a huge fuss, but it would be a nice consideration to do what you suggested.

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