Patti Bergerson, Development Department, Assumption BVM Province.
“Thank you”, are the words that come to my heart whenever I write to you. Your kindness fills us with gratitude. I trust in your friendship. You know the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption Province well. You know us to be men of prayer and Gospel service. You also know that we are very careful with your donations.
I must say that I’m a bit unsettled as I write you today. But, because of our longstanding friendship, I write in full confidence that you will understand our situation. As Provincial, I work along with our provincial council, to guide the life of our community, but I must also actively seek financial support for our province and the work of the friars. To be honest, this part of the Provincials’ role is the least comfortable for me. But friends like you have made it a joy. I’ve been spending a great deal of time planning, listening, pondering … and I’ll admit, sometimes worrying and always praying … about how we will make ends meet this year.
Perhaps it is because of the economy. Our efforts to raise funds have fallen short. Even though more friends supported us this year, the donations were down from last year. Many friends wrote that they wished they could do more, but their personal family situation prevented them from being as generous as their hearts desired. This shortfall has been very difficult for us. The friars constantly strive to save money in every way we can. We have budgeted our resources carefully, but like with so many families, unplanned emergencies come up. One of these recent emergencies happened at our St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood, MS right before Christmas…. Our Kindergarten teacher, Sr. Kathleen, smelled gas in her classroom. She immediately notified Mrs. Jackie Lewis, the Principal, who evacuated the students from the school and contacted the local gas company.
The many emergency drills paid off. The students, faculty and staff were quickly moved to the parish building. We were blessed that no one was injured. The gas company inspected the source of the gas leak and determined that seven of the nine heat exchangers of our roof air-conditioner / heating units needed replacement. The estimated cost for a heat exchanger is $5,000.00. Another problem occurred at our Friary in Greenwood, Mississippi. The sewer lines under the Friary failed and needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, to access the pipes, the concrete floor of the friary had to get busted up. The friars lived with a hole in their floor for several weeks while the repair was made. This emergency repair cost over $22,000.
And finally, in February of this year, one of the furnaces at our Friary and Provincial offices in Wisconsin failed. The heat exchanger needed to be replaced. To access the unit, we had to cut a hole in our ceiling that added to the expense! This emergency repair cost $4,000. As the summer approaches, I am praying this special appeal will help make up some of this worrisome gap in our budget. If this is a difficult economic time for you and your family, please offer only your prayers. If, however, you and your family are doing well enough, then I ask you to pray about sharing your blessings with the friars of the Assumption Province and the poor we serve. All our friars, young and old alike, join me each day in praying for you and your intentions. Know that we remain committed to walking with you in your life’s journey of faith and ask you to walk prayerfully and generously with us, Franciscan Friars. .
Sincerely yours in St. Francis,
Fr. Jim Gannon, OFM
P.S. Please pardon me for asking your help once again, especially if these are trying times for you and your family, too. But, if you are at all able to respond, please be generous. I hope to hear from you soon.