Who wants to be a millionaire parish?
A few years ago, a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Orange (Southern California) received a $10 million contribution from an anonymous benefactor. And that got me to thinking: How would I spend the $10 million if I were the pastor?
Here's my own wish list, in no particular order of importance. I'd like to know what you think of this list and how you'd spend the money differently, if you were the pastor.
What a grand thing it would be if the parish used the $10 million to . . .
1) Open a large, well-equipped soup kitchen located in the inner city areas of Santa Ana or Anaheim (cost $500,000);
2) Open a free medical and dental clinic for the local community that would cater especially to illegal alien and migrant farmworkers, the homeless, and low-income families. Organize local physicians, dentists, and nurses from the community, Catholic and non-Catholic, to donate their time (say, one day a month) to staff and operate the facility (cost: $2,000,000);
3) Establish two low-power 24-hour local Catholic radio stations, broadcasting from the parish itself and possibly retransmitting the great programming at WEWN shortwave. One would broadcast in Spanish, the other in English. Add Vietnamese programming, too, if you can find some dynamic and orthodox Vietnamese priests and lay people who have the skills for radio. This kind of station would have a small footprint, say a 10-mile "bubble" around the parish and it would be an excellent, low-cost evangelization outreach to the local community (cost: $500,000);
4) Buy or build a spacious and comfortable building as a home for indigent or low-income unmarried pregnant women. Provide free room, board and medical care, the sacraments (for Catholic women, of course) catechism instruction, home-ec classes. This would be a proven brick-and-mortar pro-life solution for local women who are tempted by the blandishments of the vile abortion industry. (cost: $1,000,000)
5) Buy or build a modest convent for the Missionaries of Charity sisters (Mother Teresa's order) and for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Alhambra; invite them to send sisters; also buy or build a modest monastery for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; invite them to send priests and brothers to work among the poor and evangelize (cost: $1,000,00).
6) Open a large, parish-run MEGA Catholic bookstore. Make it BIG, well-stocked, reasonably priced, and loaded with excellent and orthodox Catholic books, CDs, DVDs, statuary, rosaries, candles, etc. (cost: $500,000);
7) Open a large, warehouse-style parish-run food and clothing bank for the poor and disadvantaged (cost: $1,000,000).
8) Buy or build a center that will house a school for Catholic lay-missionaries and trained apologists. Aim for graduating a well-trained cadre of 25 Catholic lay-missionaries and apologists each year who will go out into the wider community, visiting homes door-to-door in small groups, to spread the Good News and bring people home to the Church and the sacraments (cost: $1,000,000).
9) Adorn the interior of the parish with beautiful statues, votive candles, stained-glass windows, and traditional fixtures of all kinds. Do everything possible to enhance the sense of the sacred inside the church itself. Erect a large crucifix outside the parish buildings, close to the road. The bigger the better— 30' high would be awesome (cost: $500,000);
10) Provide each family in the parish with a free "Catholic Family Kit," including a sturdy copy of a Catholic Bible, 5 rosaries, one crucifix, one 12" statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a copy of the Catechism, a prayerbook, a bottle of holy water, five apologetics books and five apologetics CDs & DVDs on the basics of the Faith, and, of course, a one-year subscription to Envoy Magazine (cost: $100,000);
11) Build a large shrine to our Blessed Lady on the parish grounds. Make it big and beautiful. Encourage all the faithful to make a pilgrimage there at least once a year as a family (cost: $200,000);
12) Put $700,000 in the bank for a rainy day and so that the food bank, medical clinic, and home for unwed mothers can be maintained and replenished with supplies annually.
13) Send $100,000 to the diocese as a gift.
14) Send $400,000 to the Holy Father as a gift for his Peter's Pence collection and for the missions.
15) Give the remaining $500,000 to the poor, dividing it among area Catholic and Protestant soup kitchens and homeless shelters.