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Mass for Pardon & Other Updates

October 2, 2016

I write today to draw your attention to two important topics. First, the Mass for Pardon, that I announced last Sunday along with the Archbishop’s letter in the Pulse; and, secondly, as I noted in my article last week-end, our current registration in the parish.

As we move toward the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in November with the Feast of Christ the King, and the Synod 16 in November as well, our Archbishop Vigneron has taken a bold step in celebrating for the entire Archdiocese a Mass for Pardon. The letter he sent to all the faithful (insert in our Pulse last week) presented his thought on the need for such a liturgy. Certainly, we are, as the Second Vatican Council stated, a pilgrim church, sinning and sinful. We are human and in need of redemption. Christ the Good Shepherd has gathered us together as His flock and has given us shepherds to watch over us and help guide us through the ministry and office of Bishop.

For a Bishop, who as chief shepherd of a diocese to take on a penitential stance on  behalf of the entire diocese is certainly a great witness to the need for  the Church in its humanity to repent and to show us personally our need to come before the Lord and seek forgiveness for the many ways we may have contributed to the sinfulness of the Church.

But what does the “sinfulness of the Church” mean? In the Archbishop’s letter, he references “the sins committed over the generations by our bishops, our priests, our lay ministers, institutions, and all the faithful.” Reflecting upon that statement, I’m sure what comes to mind first is the sexual abuse crisis that rocked the Church in 2002; priests who offended and bishops who covered it up. As glaring as this sin became for the Church, other sins may have been committed. A non-pastoral approach to people’s hurts oftentimes needs  forgiveness. For example, people being scolded in confession when they come seeking mercy and forgiveness, divorced couples told that there was nothing that could be done for them.  The misuse of parish funds by institutions or individuals. Parish leadership or parishioners who purposely put up stumbling blocks and cause grievances at their Parish Council meetings or commissions. Systemic racism that sometimes we are even unaware of but nonetheless still exists and for the lack of inclusion of women, gay, or youth in the legitimate governance of the community.

I imagine the list could go on and on. But suffice it to say, these and other sins need to be looked at honestly and brought to the Lord for redemption. As Christ took on the sins of the world on the cross, I respect our Archbishop for the public statement of a need for pardon. To support him in this effort, I, too, will concelebrate the Mass for Pardon on Friday, October 7, at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I invite any parishioner who feels compelled to repent for the Church in the same way to attend this liturgy. We may not have personally participated in this sinful behavior; but, like Christ, we take on the sins of the community simply because we are part of the community. How many people have looked down upon us as Catholics because of something another Catholic, Bishop, Priest, or lay person did.

Christ died once for all; but we, as an institution, repent for our sins to move forward with a renewed grace and hope so that we indeed can, with a clean conscience, “Unleash the Gospel” for a New Evangelization.

Certainly as a pilgrim church, we will stumble and fall; we are sinning and sinful. But to feel a communal sense of forgiveness because our Chief Shepherd, Archbishop Vigneron, repents on behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit, is humbling for all of us.  Let us stand at the foot of the cross of humility. Join together by meeting in St. Matthew’s parking lot no later than 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 7. We meet for the baseball game outing and for fellowship on Hospitality Sundays, can we not come together for this Mass for Pardon?  Let us meet to share rides and support our Archdiocese and our Archbishop in this act of repentance.  After all, it is a Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Regarding my second point, I wanted to follow up on the announcement and welcome of our new parishioners since the Mass Mob in June of 2015. I think we are all making a concerted effort to invite people to St. Matthew’s and to glean new parishioners.  It is so important to the sustainability of our parish. I am happy to report that since the Mass Mob, we have registered 22 new parishioners/families. All of whom are contributing to the parish either through envelopes, on line giving, ministry, and/or attendance. Keep up the good work!

However, on the other side, we lost seven parishioners through death and 10 parishioners/families have moved away from the parish but are still contributing. Some return on occasion, but all still want to be parishioners at St. Matthew’s.

So we are not running a deficit, we are maintaining with a slight positive edge. But our work still lies ahead of us. With 227 registrants, totally 322 parishioners, we still need to invite more people to the parish. I’m looking forward to our Synod 16 on evangelization. I’m sure our diocesan spirit will have results here at the parish level.

God bless all of you!

Detailed Fiscal Year 16 Financial Report

September 25, 2016

In the spring of each year, as you know, we participate in the Archdiocesan (AoD) Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). This year, our target amount was exceedingly high, $22,850.00. This was due to the previous year’s income which was inflated owing to our Mass Mob (almost $20,000) and a legacy gift of $50,000 given to us. This additional almost $70,000, based on the CSA target formula, raised the target approximately $8,000. It seemed to me that this was an unfair target because these were one-time gifts not to be seen again, and it did not reflect the actual parishioner base who would need to raise that amount of money.  That being said, I appealed the target to the AoD CSA Review Committee. Typically, these target appeals are refused so we had to be prepared to meet the full target. We made an extra appeal to parishioners, both from the pulpit and in letters especially to those who do not typically respond to the CSA.  Indeed, the parishioners of St. Matthew’s met the challenge and pledged $29,245.

Personally, I was overjoyed and relieved that we would not have to take out of our savings this much needed $8,000.

This summer, the Review Committee completed their work; I was informed that our appeal was reviewed and that they agreed with our special circumstances and lowered the target by $7,569, giving us a revised target of $15,281, which is inline with our usual amount.  Both the Mass Mob and legacy gifts were removed from the formula, but they reminded me that the assessment (AoD tax) would be applied to both.

Needless to say, this will be an extra amount to be paid, but it is not as great as the increased CSA target amount would have been. Certainly, we will meet this by the additional money from CSA pledges.  From the amount pledged and the lower target, our parish can realize $14,000 toward our budget at a time when we have to subsidize our overall budget from savings; this can certainly be a blessing.

We oftentimes don’t raise this amount of money in a fund-raiser. But your generosity and faithfulness has come through along with an understanding Archdiocese. So I ask you please be faithful to your CSA pledge. It means so much to the parish to have it fulfilled, which can surely bring about a greater sustainability of our parish. As an act of stewardship, you have pledged generously, and I ask God to bless you for your sacrifice.

In gratitude, I would like to thank Bill Zuerblis and John Dunstone for chairing the CSA and for all their hard work on this matter.

On this Stewardship Sunday, I would like to draw your attention to the Financial Report on the front page of The Pulse.  I am happy to point out that our expenses have been cut over the previous year mainly due to lower utility costs.  And with the “Smiley Face” on reaching our collection goal, we were able to reduce our subsidy by $50,000.

As I mentioned at the announcements last week, we are once again moving forward with the marketing of our school buildings. There are  once again three entities that are expressing an interest, and one of them is Pansophic, who made an offer before but failed to secure their charter authorization. I feel confident that we will find success in this coming year and our school buildings will be sold.

On a more pastoral matter, I want to remind everyone of our Anointing Mass next week-end. During the 4:30 pm Saturday Mass and the 10 am Sunday Mass, anyone who is suffering terminal illness, chronic illness, anticipating surgery, depression, or is need of physical healing is invited to come forward for the laying on of hands and anointing in the power of the Holy Spirit. I always find the celebration of the Sacrament of Healing a moving experience and know that I pray fervently for your health and well-being.  I know how critical it is to be healthy in order to carry out the ministry God has given to us.  He restores us to health so we can be restored to service.  This coupled together allows for a full and happy life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Next week, I will comment on our new registrations in the parish.  The work of evangelization continues, and we are indeed participating in it.

God bless you!

Commissioning Homily

September 4, 2016


On Thursday, August 25th, at the invitation of Joe Balistreri, Father Duane Novelly delivered the homily at the Annual Commissioning Ceremony for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.  The first rehearsal for our own St. Matthew Choir under the direction of Rick Cucchi will be held Sunday, September 11, at 9 a.m.  If you are in doubt as to whether or not this is the ministry for you, please read Father’s homily.

Attributed to St. Francis is the saying, “He who sings, prays twice.”  Often times, I have asked myself, “What does that mean?”  The more I think about it, in terms of the liturgy, I think of you, the musicians, and me, the priest.  I think of the relationship between priest/celebrant and musician.  And, I recognize that first we are both in prayer, leading an assembly of God’s people.  In our prayer, we are called to take others along with us.  It is not for ourselves.  We invite others into an experience of God.  

Our relationships (celebrant and musician) are critical.  Therefore, we must talk to one another, to speak a common language, of style and purpose;  a sense of “playing off one another” and bringing out the best from the whole assembly, much as a conductor of an orchestra depends on his first-chair violinist.  In so doing, we are called not to do rubric or to perform;  but, in word, gesture, sound, and melody to elevate the spirit and inspire.

Our reading today from Ephesians indicates that we should be filled with the Spirit addressing one another in psalm, hymn, and inspired songs.  But if we were to read the verses just prior to these, we would hear the admonition “not to be foolish, and to make the most of the opportunity.”

So as St. Paul says, “don’t be foolish,” thinking your role is tangential to the liturgy.  It’s not!  By praying twice in word and sound, lyric and melody, the celebrant and the musicians are bookends of the Sacred Liturgy.  We minister together!  So never think of yourself as just having a talent, though talented you are.  Don’t think of yourself as just skilled, though skill you have.  Don’t think of yourself as performing; for you are prayer leaders gifted by God.  

Song, music, hymns, and chant are important to the assembly.  If worshippers feel and believe in the relationship between priest/celebrant and musician, they will raise their own voices in songs, hymns, and praise to the Lord.  When the work of the liturgy is accomplished by priest, musician, and people, it becomes perfect praise.  On the notes of melody, our words of prayer are raised to God as if carried by angels, and “we pray twice.”    

Fiscal Year 16 Financial Report

July 10, 2016

As the fiscal year 2016 comes to a close (6-30-2016), I am so happy to tell you of our great success in our Offertory collections, and I only have you to thank.  We have always reported a “sad face” :-( in our quarterly weekly envelope reports.  But this Fourth Quarter report which covers the entire 52 weeks of the fiscal year has just given us for the first time in 20 years a Great Big Smile! :-)

I can’t tell you how happy and appreciative I was to see that  we not only met but exceeded our goal by $2,600.  The first word of credit goes to all the faithful parishioners who contributed so regularly and for the increase in your weekly offering—thank you.  Secondly, I want to mention those Online Givers.  This has helped us greatly.  Your donation comes in regularly and without fail—thank you.  I also want to note the attention by many to the “debt envelope.”  As you know, this goes toward an income deficit reduction.  It absolutely helps to reduce our weekly deficit—thank you for contributing to it. 

Now certainly the parish weekly collection is a great and important part of our sustainability, and I would ask you along with me to remember in prayerful thanksgiving all your fellow parishioners who help to give us such a Big Smile.  If we can sell the school buildings and reduce our financial liability with a sustained weekly income, I am hopeful we will financially sustain our parish.

The next step is to fill our pews.  I still ask everyone to invite, cajole, and encourage regular attendance at Sunday Mass.  If we can build up the Body of Christ in our pews, we will be able to do so much more for the Church and the wider community.

Again, thank you for putting such a Big Smile on the face of St. Matthew Parish.  And might I say a Big Smile on my face as well!  Congratulations!

Budget for 52 Weeks:               $124,800.00

Actual for 52 Weeks:                 $117,285.51

Online Giving for 52 Weeks:    $5,860.00             

Total Actual for 52 Weeks:       $123,145.51

Overage (shortfall):                   ($1,654.49)


Average Collection / Sunday:                    $2,368.18

Average % of Budget / Sunday:                98.7%                          

Average % over (under) / Sunday:            (1.3%)


Debt Envelope for 52 Weeks:                  $3,487.94

Online Giving / Debt Envelope:               $780.00

Debt Reduction Collection Income         $4,267.94


NET OVERAGE TO DATE:              $2,613.45


Annual Financial Report

July 7, 2016

St. Matthew Parish Report
July 5, 2015 to June 30, 2016

Budget for 52 Weeks:  $124,800.00
Actual for 52 Weeks: $117,285.51
Online Giving for 52 Weeks: $5,860.00
Total Actual for 52 Weeks:  $123,145.51
Overage (shortfall): ($1,654.49)
Average Collection / Sunday: $2,368.18
Average % of Budget / Sunday:  98.7%

Average % over (under) / Sunday: 

Debt Envelope for 52 Weeks: $3,487.94
Online Giving / Debt Envelope: $780.00
Debt Reduction Collection Income: $4,267.94


As the fiscal year 2016 comes to a close (6-30-2016), I am so happy to tell you of our great success in our Offertory collections, and I only have you to thank. We have always reported a “sad face” :-( in our quarterly weekly envelope reports. But this Fourth Quarter report which covers the entire 52 weeks of the fiscal year has just given us for the first time in 20 years a Great Big Smile! :-)

I can’t tell you how happy and appreciative I was to see that we not only met but exceeded our goal by $2,600. The first word of credit goes to all the faithful parishioners who contributed so regularly and for the increase in your weekly offering—thank you. Secondly, I want to mention those Online Givers. This has helped us greatly. Your donation comes in regularly and without fail—thank you. I also want to note the attention by many to the “debt envelope.” As you know, this goes toward an income deficit reduction. It absolutely helps to reduce our weekly deficit - thank you for contributing to it.

Now certainly the parish weekly collection is a great and important part of our sustainability, and I would ask you along with me to remember in prayerful thanksgiving all your fellow parishioners who help to give us such a Big Smile. If we can sell the school buildings and reduce our financial liability with a sustained weekly income, I am hopeful we will financially sustain our parish. 

The next step is to fill our pews. I still ask everyone to invite, cajole, and encourage regular attendance at Sunday Mass. If we can build up the Body of Christ in our pews, we will be able to do so much more for the Church and the wider community.

Again, thank you for putting such a Big Smile on the face of St. Matthew Parish. And might I say a Big Smile on my face as well! Congratulations!

School Buildings Update

May 15, 2016

You have been asking about where we are at with the sale of our School Buildings since the PowerPoint Presentation was made on March 6, 2016 by our Parish Council and Patrick Lusch. At that time, we were days away from closing on the deal. However, timing is everything, and we are now caught up in the political issues of the State of Michigan and the Detroit Public School System. It seems that the State of Michigan has asked the charter school authorities (for us that would be Grand Valley State) to withhold, within the City of Detroit, any new charters for a period of six months while the State legislature works to resolve the DPS money and organization issues that lie before them.

This means for us that Pansophic, who was to open a charter school here at St. Matthew’s, did not get their final approval for their charter, and the entire agreement with St. Matthew’s has been put on hold.

However, we do not want to sit back and do nothing. Through CBRE, our commercial realtor, we have been put in contact with another charter school management group, Carpe Diem, who had previously received a charter authorization prior to the moratorium. 

At this point, our realtor is speaking to them to work out details. As of this writing, I have no other information. We have discussed this with the Parish Council, and the parish leadership has recommended and I will act upon the first legitimate offer that we receive. It is paramount that we sell our buildings as the cost to the parish in expenditures and lost income will hurt us.

Please keep your prayers coming that the State of Michigan and the Detroit Public School System will settle their issues for the benefit of the children and the future of our city. 

I pray that the parish along with the entire church will celebrate a continued New Pentecost this week, and new life and hope can be breathed into us as we move forward.

God bless you, Father Duane

Feast of the Ascension

May 8, 2016

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. We now celebrate this mystery on the Seventh Sunday of Easter as we have for a number of years instead of on the Thursday before the Seventh Sunday. It was the thought of the bishops of our National Conference that the Ascension is such a glorious mystery that it should not be lost and given great prominence in the Easter Season as part of the ongoing revelation of Christ in the Easter/Ascension/Pentecost cycle. I wholeheartedly agree, and it is important that in our personal prayer and in the prayer of the Church, we reflect upon Christ’s Ascension as the means by which He readied the world to receive the fullness of His Spirit for all time and for everyone.

With the command to His apostles to go out and teach all nations, we are reminded of the great evangelization that we are all called to participate in as a baptized people.

Our parish in understanding the Archbishop’s call to “Unleash the Gospel,” participated in the archdiocesan Amazing Parish Conference two weeks ago. I, along with Debbie Nieddu, Greg Redman, and Patricia Camazzola-Godoshian, represented St. Matthew among almost 1,000 other participants from parishes across the Archdiocese.

As most participants said the conference was charged with an energy for leadership that hopefully will give life to a New Evangelization. As we examined our leadership structures, we focused on what could make our parishes better so as to draw in both new and fallen away Catholics. 

In the coming weeks, I will meet with our conference participants and begin unpacking what we gleaned from the three days, and then couple this with our Evangelization Committee as we move toward Synod 16 and a deeper understanding of the new Evangelization.

On a more administrative note, I am happy to announce that we found and hired a new Sunday organist. As was announced, our former organist and choir director, Jim Renfer, decided to take another position and told me three weeks ago that we would be leaving. Last Sunday, May 1, was his last day, and I was worried I would not be able to find someone to fill in.

Certainly, we have been blessed with good music ministers throughout the years, and our new person, Mr. Rick Cucchi, stands in that firm stead. In fact, it was Rick, who I have known for many years, who had recommended to me some 14 years ago, that I consider hiring a young man by the name of Joe Balistreri. Well, as you know, the rest is history.

Now, I am delighted to add Rick to our staff as our Sunday organist and choir director. We will continue with Joe Balistreri playing our Saturday Masses, and David Troiano for our weekday and funeral Masses. This arrangement seems to work well for our parish at this time, and I hope you welcome Rick warmly into our community as he starts today as our music minister.

I also would like to re-iterate our need for your support of the CSA. I indicated that our target was raised substantially, approximately $8,000, this year due to a legacy gift and the Mass Mob we hosted, and the increase it gave to our income. Now, we have to raise $22,850 compared to $15,000 last year in the CSA. I would ask, please if everybody would do something, large or small, we should be able to reach the target and not to have to take the money from savings. I can’t stress enough how important it is to raise this money. Whatever you can do to get the message out for a full participation, it would be appreciated. I know it will be a stretch for us, but the sacrificial offering you make will help in the overall sustainability of our parish.

Lastly, of course, I want to wish all the Moms of our parish a Happy Mother’s Day. This was always a special and delightful day for me in years past, seeing my Mom in the assembly, pointing her out, and your sharing an applause with her made her feel so good and proud. I want to thank you for those years and ask you to pray for the repose of my Mother. It’s been five and one-half years since their lives were taken so tragically.

It is nice to be with all the Moms of our parish today. I hope you and your families have good memories of this Mother’s Day and may God bless all these women who have answered the call to give life and nourish it both physically and spiritually. Happy Mother’s Day!

Father Duane

Fence Repair / Accident

April 24, 2016

I mentioned two weeks ago that our Harper Avenue fence had been crashed into sometime in the middle of the night on April 5. The weekly morning Mass attendees were kind enough not to tell me about it until after Mass since they new it would be upsetting. It was a “hit and run” (thank God no one was hurt) against property, but it is still upsetting.

Our community worked hard and gave much appreciated donations to have it installed. In fact, a sizable donation was contributed in the memory of Paz Barin (Dr. Bing Ocampo’s mother). The fence has helped in securing our property, and I wanted it fixed as soon as possible.

Having filed a police report, notifying the insurance company, and having the fence company who installed it give us an estimate ($2,500 minus $500 deductible), they assured me that it would be repaired by the end of that week; in fact, it took just two days for them to complete the work.

Parishioners were not aware of the damage, so I am including pictures of it in the Pulse today so you know what we were faced with after the event.

But I am so pleased to tell you that a former parishioner, Matt Simoncini, was at Mass on that Sunday and afterwards donated $500 to cover the cost of the deductible. I really want to thank him for that donation.

Not that this incident wasn’t bad enough, but it was the second accident within one week. Our Harper Auxiliary Lot gate pole was crashed into, and that had to be fixed as well.

It seems that with spring, drivers have become more careless. Maybe this is a lesson for all. Always be careful when driving, avoid road rage, and drunk and distracted driving. As you know this is a sensitive issue for me. Please be safe and go with God.

By next week, we will have had our Synod 16 Dialogue Gathering and our Amazing Parish Conference. I’ll write next week to give you an account of these experiences.

God bless you, Father Duane

Parish Dialogue Session & Updates

April 4, 2016

An important date for all parishioners is coming up, April 17, 2016! After the Sunday liturgy, St. Matthew Parish will have its “Dialogue Gathering” in a town hall format for the upcoming archdiocesan Synod 16 in November.

We expect the session to take approximately one hour of your time after Mass. This is an important gathering. I ask you to please make every effort to attend. I’m sure we can all adjust our schedules to do this work of the church.

The Dialogue will be to facilitated by Patrick Lusch, a parish council member and our fellow parishioner, Maureen Dritsan, who will be our Notetaker. The material and questions that we are asked to consider are provided by the archdiocese and will focus our responses so that it is the best use of our time to have input on various issues regarding the “New Evangelization.”

Your input is invaluable for our Synod 16 representatives, Mike Dulapa and Patricia Camazzola, who will be at the Synod in November.

Again, we will respect your time. For those who were at the Town Hall regarding our school building, you know how straight forward the presentation was, and this will be the same. We will set down some dialogue ground rules so that everyone will have a change to respond and be respectful of others’ comments. This is a time in the church when we need you to step forward. Again, please make every attempt to be present for this “Dialogue Gathering.”

I also want to say how delighted I was to see so many people at the Triduum Liturgies. I think they were the best attended in years. I felt a genuine presence of the Holy Spirit as I prayed with you from our parish Lenten Reconciliation Service through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Vigil, and especially Easter Sunday, when we had almost 300 people at Mass. As I said Easter Sunday morning, it was like a “mini-Mass Mob.” I truly wish we could do that every week. But that is why we are having the Dialogue Session and the New Evangelization so that we can set forth the mission of returning Catholics to the pews and proclaiming the Good News.

I also want to congratulate Kristen Stark on being received into full initiation with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. Kristen who was previously baptized took a Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church, was confirmed, and received Eucharist for the first time. We are so proud of her and wish her well. I pray she will truly find a spiritual home here at St. Matthew’s as a Catholic.

On a final note, I hope you will attend our “Jazz Nite” spring fundraiser on April 9th. It is always a lot of fun and fellowship. I’m a little worried in that the tickets are not selling as quickly as they did in the past. But now that we have celebrated Easter maybe people will begin thinking about the fundraiser. We don’t have too much time, April 9th is just a week away and the banquet center will need a firm attendance count by Tuesday, April 5th. Please join us with friends and family.

I wish you a very Happy Easter Season and pray for the success of the work of our hands!

God bless you,
Father Duane