Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes | November 8, 2023 

Attendees: Corinne Cathcart, Annette Clark, Dick Dolinski, Kathy Fothergill, Judy Gross, Fr. Rob Howe, Pat Lautner, Jim Mahoney, Jim Marinik, Andy Pasztor, Jeff Paulus, Patrick Regier, Cathy Richard, Christine Sellnow, Barb Warczinsky 


  • Meeting began at 8:02pm 
  • Annette Clark moved and Jim Mahoney seconded the approval of the minutes of the September 6, 2023 Pastoral Council meeting as corrected. The motion carried. 

Updates (Fr. Rob) 

  • A meeting with the city regarding the playground transfer is scheduled for November 15. Up to approximately $40,000 in grants is pending to help offset the cost of replacing the playground in partnership with the City.  
  • The maintenance situation is in transition. An initial arrangement of a person working ~30 hours at Assumption and ~10 hours for Blessed Sacrament was terminated after 3 weeks when the incumbent preferred working solely at Assumption. We now have a person working part time who is expected to transition to full time in December. 
  • Our October parish Mass attendance count has increased from 807 in 2022 to 1,016 this year, a 26% improvement. However, this total still lags the 2019 pre-COVID amount of 1,182 by 14%. Attendance at the Sunday 11:00am Mass has increased sharply. Our family-involved faith formation program helped drive this increase. 
  • Bishop Ken Untener’s weekend homilies are being read by priests in the Diocese (beginning with Fr. Rob) each weekend and are available via podcast. The “Little Books” based on his writings will be available again for the parishioners beginning with the first Sunday of Advent on December 3, 2023.  
  • The video report on the “State of the Parish” is being recorded and edited. The final copy will be available for the parish soon. 

High School Faith Formation Update (Corinne Cathcart) 

Corinne provided an update of the High School program as outlined in the attachment (“Faith Formation”). Some highlights include the whole family program is being well received, we are still seeking candidate to lead the program, the outreach trip this year is to Knoxville, Tennessee. We exceeded our goal of 800 cereal boxes collected and provided to the food pantry.  

Middle School Faith Formation Update (Christine Sellnow) 

Christine provided an update of the Middle School program as outlined in the “Middle Schools YM” attachment. Christine explained the joint pilot of the new Confirmation program at Blessed Sacrament and Assumption beginning next year. She is working with Kathy Russell at Assumption on the project. This is a two-year program with 24 sessions plus a service project and a retreat. Five parishes in the Diocese are participating in the approach with the desired outcome to build a Catholic foundation and form life disciples for the church. Other highlights include the “Reach Out Program” that is providing a service project monthly with the first being to assist at Shelterhouse’s retail store, and an additional project to bake 25 pies for the Food Pantry.  

Parish Christian Service Ministry Report (Pat Lautner) 

Pat provided a very comprehensive report on the various components that make up Christian Services ministry, specifically “Emergency Assistance, Special Assistance, and Christian Service Funding.”  

“Emergency Assistance” typically begins with a request through 2-1-1. Basic information such as name, address, income, number of children, etc. is collected and the need is identified. Typical needs are for rent to avoid eviction, paying a utility bill, and the like. Blessed Sacrament is in collaboration with a network of agencies, comprised of approximately 20 churches and several service organizations, who provide emergency assistance. Recipients are limited to one support payment per fiscal year and a maximum payment of $150. Blessed Sacrament provided $27,400 of assistance during our 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

“Special Assistance” is for extraordinary help arising from more serious circumstances such as floods, storm damage, emergency shelter, etc. A network of 15 churches and 20 agencies come together to manage this endeavor. 

“Christian Service Commission Funding” has provided $3.27 million in funds to area non-profit agencies since its inception in 1981. Applications for funding are submitted by October 1 of each year requesting information about the agency’s mission, service, budget, and related items along with the proposed use of the requested grant. Representatives of any agency that has not applied in the past are interviewed by the Commission members, the applications are reviewed, and the funding decisions are made. Last year, $125,000 of a total of $183,000 requested was dispersed in grants to 56 agencies. The Christian Service Commission reviewed requests from 53 agencies this year and has recommended $125,000 of funding to the agencies. Award letters will be sent to the selected agencies in early December with payments in February. An open house for recipient agencies is held after the Sunday Masses on a designated day in March of each year to allow the agencies to inform about and exhibit” their work as well as to network. 

Finance Report and Update (Patrick Regier) 

Weekend collections are down $30,700 versus budget through the end of October. However, our total year-to-date expenses were better than budget by $43,000 largely owing to lower employee-related expenses including a less than 100% staffing level with the open High School Youth Ministry position. Net assets increased by $46,000. 

Roundtable Updates 

  • Corinne—encouraged all to view the pictures lining the hallway 
  • Barb—expressed her appreciation and gratitude to the staff for their exceptional work 
  • Jim Marinik—asked about the outcomes of the Synod meeting in Rome. Fr. Rob responded that this is a two-year process, only the first phase has been concluded, and more work will be done over the next year. 
  • Cathy Richard—indicated that she was proud to be a part of this group and its work 
  • Annette—updated the group on several initiatives including a planned Thanksgiving turkey drive, Coats for Kids campaign, greeting cards project at Washington Woods, Sharing Tree tags availability, and the Alternate Gifts fair in November 
  • The next meeting will be a Joint Pastoral & Finance Council on December 13, 2023 at 7:00pm. 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:16pm 

Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes – September 6, 2023

Attendees: Corinne Cathcart, Annette Clark, Dick Dolinski, Fr. Rob Howe, Jim Mahoney, Jim Marinik, Jeff Paulus, Patrick Regier, Cathy Richard, Barb Warczinsky


  • Meeting began at 6:58pm
  • Barb Warczinsky moved and Jim Mahoney seconded the approval of the minutes of the June 7, 2023 Joint Pastoral and Finance Councils meeting as corrected. The motion carried.

Updates (Fr. Rob)

  • Justin Rose’s departure was an unexpected surprise but it is a very good move for him and his family. With his leaving, Corinne has agreed to take on the role of faith formation team leader. A search is underway for Justin’s replacement.
  • The maintenance situation is still in a state of flux. We are sharing a part-time person with Assumption with help on the weekends.
  • The parish picnic and golf outing went very well and we’ve received positive feedback regarding both events. A total of 23 teams participated in the golf outing. Plans are to move the date to the week of August 25 next year.
  • The Midland City Council approved the playground transfer agreement. The Diocese also has agreed with the move. The appropriate legal documents are being drawn up to facilitate the transfer. A letter in opposition to the transfer from a concerned parishioner was read to the Council as requested. A discussion ensued to explore additional sources of revenue from local foundations and civic organizations to assist with underwriting the cost of updating the playground.

Faith Formation Update (Corinne Cathcart)

Corinne described the Faith Formation program for this fiscal year. An outline of her presentation is attached which includes the new Confirmation schedule and the format for elementary Faith Formation programs. This year’s program theme is ”Kingdom Builders” — what can we do to build God’s Kingdom on earth? This topic is derived from several Catholic social teachings including the need to build a holy and just society. Jesus called us to care for “the least of these.”

There is a change in the Confirmation program. It will be a two-year program beginning at age 12 or later. We and Assumption are piloting the “Purpose” by Life Teens curriculum that’s been approved by the Diocese for use in all parishes. Elementary Faith

Formation has been designed to include kids and their parents to experience the program together. Parents are the first and most influential catechists for their children. The program will empower them to raise faithful, faith-filled, life-long Catholics. There will also be a good deal of family fun components including the Trunk or Treat evening, Euchre, a chili cook-off, game nights, and the like. This year’s outreach will be a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Corinne closed her presentation with a list of important Faith Formation program dates as indicated in the attachment.

Finance Update (Patrick)

  • The parish fund balance increased by just under $28,000 year-to-date through August 31, 2023 to a total of $2.9 million.
  • Despite lower weekend collections, our revenues slightly exceeded expenses due to memorial donations, higher interest income, and lower expenses across most categories except utilities.
  • Our 2022-23 Christ Mission Appeal effort ended at 83% of our $250,000 target, about $42,000 short of our goal. Our 2023-24 goal has been increased 9.2% to $273,000. A contributing factor to this large increase is that the Diocese uses US census population and income data in their calculations rather than parish-specific information.

Roundtable Updates

  • Jim Mahoney—discuss greeters to welcome and orient newcomers to the parish
  • Jeff—we should make sure that we select the right candidate for Justin’s replacement even if it takes more time to find that person
  • Annette—the “One Week-One Street” program is in the works
  • Cathy—the women’s Christ Renews group is discerning their next steps—22 people are involved
  • Fr. Rob—we need help recruiting Eucharistic Ministers, lectors, choir members, etc. Please invite people who may have an interest.
  • The next meeting of the Pastoral Council is November 8, 2023

The meeting was adjourned at 8:03pm

Joint Pastoral and Finance Councils Meeting Minutes | June 7, 2023

Blessed Sacrament Parish Joint Pastoral and Finance Councils Meeting Minutes | June 7, 2023 

Attendees: Annette Clark, Dick Dolinski, Joe Dostal, Kathy Fothergill, Pam Gandy, Fr. Rob Howe, Jim Marinek, Lyn Pajk, Jeff Paulus, Patrick Regier, Cathy Richard, Dennis Thiel, Barb Warczinsky 

Excused: Judy Gross, Dan Kozakiewicz, Jim Mahoney, Andy Pasztor, Kevin Spencer 


  • Meeting began at 6:34pm 
  • Jeff Paulus moved and Annette Clark seconded the approval of the minutes of the April 19, 2023 Pastoral Council meeting. The motion carried. 

Opening Comments—Fr. Rob and Patrick  

  • An agreement in principle has been reached with the city of Midland to accept the Blessed Sacrament playground as city property. The city will be responsible for all maintenance, liability, and any other obligations as sole owner. The current equipment has deteriorated, cannot be repaired, and must be replaced to meet current standards and mitigate potential future injury-related liability claims. In turn, the parish will provide funds not to exceed $200,000 to purchase new playground equipment to meet existing standards including Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements. Funds will come from COVID-related federal funds that have been received from the government by the parish. This is a “win-win” situation; the city (and the neighborhood) gets the playground as part of Wallen Park and the parish no longer has maintenance, insurance, and liability risk-exposure costs. 

Faith Formation—Lyn 

  • Lyn updated the Council on the various Faith Formation programs  including the following: 
  • Cedar Point Trip—45 youth are registered to date for the trip. 
  • Outreach—Justin is leading the trip leaving on June 11 with about 17 youth who will be working on four projects including a soup kitchen and fire damage repairs. 
  •  Planetarium Trip—visit to the Delta Planetarium in Bay City is scheduled for middle school students on June 14. Faith and science will be part of the discussion.  
  • Baptisms—Baptisms are up—described as “blocks of babies!” 
  • Vacation Bible School (VBS)—VBS is coming soon. About 70 youth are already registered. The program is in partnership with St. Brigid and Our Lady of Grace.  
  • Adult Faith Formations—The program is proceeding well. 12 new small faith groups have been formed. A current project is making prayer beads. Another session of Theology By The Glass is scheduled for June 14.  
  • Corpus Christi Bike Ride—The annual “procession” will be the bike ride from the Tridge to the Cottage Creamery on June 8.  
  • Garden Stroll—Four parishioners’ houses will be open for a stroll through their gardens at the end of this month. 
  • Emily Janoch Presentation—Greg and Nancy Janoch’s daughter, Emily, is employed by CARE working on various projects assisting the poor. She has just returned from a project in Ethiopia and will be speaking about her experiences there at the Parish Center on June 27 at 1:00-2:30pm. 
  • “Kingdom Builders” will be the theme for next year’s programs 
  • Organization Changes—With Lyn’s retirement, Justin Rose will become the Director of Youth Programs and Christy Granda has been hired to be the Director for Adult Programs. She will begin on June 22. 

Finance Update—Patrick 

  • Patrick reported on Parish finances through the period ending May 31, 2023. The balance sheet increased by $652K to a total of $2.84 million largely due to a $333K payment from the federal COVID program, the $187K bequest from the Glenn Waters Estate, and higher weekend collections. 
  • The Christian Service Commission outreach balance was reduced reflecting the payment of $125K made to 50 different recipient non-profit organizations. 
  • Weekend collections through the end of May are up $75K over budget. Overall expenses are higher than the budget by $23K driven primarily by increased utility costs and a CMA deficit of between $30-45K.  
  • The 2023-24 budget was approved by the Finance Council at their last meeting in May. It calls for Revenues of $1.7 million and an “Operating” surplus (excluding Major Expenditures) of $136K. This is an increase of $11K from last year. Wages are projected to increase 6% and Benefits by 4% while other expenses are expected to remain flat. An overall budget Revenue less Expenses shortfall of $64K is planned after anticipated expenses of $136K for Major Expenditures.  

Roundtable Updates 

  • Annette—reported that “One Week, One Street” program is underway. 
  • Jim and Barb—expressed heartfelt appreciation to Lyn for all of her contributions to the parish with her many skills, competencies, and enthusiasm along with her unique joy-filled personality. They wished her well and Godspeed in her future endeavors. 
  • Barb—reported on the CRHP 17 celebration at Richard’s home and their desire to keep the effort moving forward. An 85-year-old woman is interested in participating next year. 
  • Lyn—had the last word (as usual?) 😀 She thanked the Council members for the gift of their time and for being the first line of parish support. She urged the Council to continue doing what St. Mother Teresa always advocated, viz., “do small things with great love!” 
  • The next meeting of the Pastoral Council will be held on September 6.  

The meeting was adjourned at 7:19 pm followed by refreshments in honor of Lyn. 

Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes | April 19, 2023

Attendees: Annette Clark, Dick Dolinski, Fr. Rob Howe, Melissa Kato, Lyn Pajk, Patrick Regier, Cathy Richard, Barb Warczinsky

Attended via Zoom: Jeff Paulus, Jim Marinek

Excused: Jim Mahoney


  • Meeting began at 7:04pm
  • Cathy Richard moved and Barb Warczinsky seconded the approval of the minutes of the February 1, 2023 Pastoral Council meeting. The motion carried.

Updates (Fr. Rob)

  • The arrangements for the annual parish picnic are progressing. The date is August 27. The annual golf outing will be the next day, August 28.
  • The car show will be held on September 16 (the 3rd Saturday in September).
  • The sidewalk project will begin the week of April 24 to repair uneven pavement adjacent to the former school wing. These repairs will address the flooding problem in that area.
  • Lyn will be retiring from her role at the end of June. The job has been posted and several promising candidates have submitted resumes.
  • Mike Percha is retiring at the end of May. Cleaning of the church will be carried out by the Arnold Center and Kutchey’s will be providing the lawn mowing and snow removal services.

Faith Formation—Young Adults and Family Life Updates (Melissa Kato and Lyn Pajk)

  • Melissa updated the Council on the various programs for which she is responsible including the following:
    • RCIA—now called the Order of Christian Initiation (OCIA). Four children, ranging in age from 8 to 11 years old, will receive their sacraments at the Easter Vigil. Corrine Cathcart and Mary Beth O’Connor assisted with the preparation sessions and a team of volunteers helped with the reception after the Easter Vigil.

There are two adults in preparation to receive sacrament of first Eucharist and Confirmation later this year.

  • Baptisms—A baptism preparation class is offered monthly for parents seeking baptism for their children. 10 children have been baptized since August 2022 not counting the 4 in OCIA and 6 more coming up.
    • Marriage Preparation—Couples intending to marry participate in a marriage preparation program called Prepare/Enrich. An online assessment of the couple is followed by a review and the creation of a basic outline. Typically, two to four in person meetings (or via Zoom if necessary) are held. Two couples have completed classes and a third one is pending.
    • Young Adults—A Flocknotes list is sent to young adults and families. With the help of Justin Rose, a curling match was held over the Christmas break for returning college students. Eleven participants are interested in participating during the summer.
    • Divorce Recovery—a non-denominational team of seven volunteers offers an 8-week program in the fall. Because we did not have sufficient interest in the program, we offered a Divorce Care evening once a month.
    • Annulment Procurator—Assistance is offered to a petitioner seeking an annulment in selecting the right petition and to gather the necessary paperwork and signatures. The procurator also helps in gathering the necessary testimony, provides tribunal feedback, and discusses possible grounds for annulment. Five annulments have been completed in 2023, four others are at the tribunal, and two are being compiled.
  • Lyn reported that 8 small faith groups involving 65 people were active during Lent. Seven are continuing beyond Lent and the other is looking at meeting seasonally. Continuing the momentum in encouraging small faith groups will be an important role for Lyn’s replacement
  • An 8th person has shared the peace plate.
  • Ann Boyd has been leading Faith Beautifully Crafted sessions. The first led to the distribution of over 80 Easter Greeting Cards to those parishioners who are alone/single. Creating inspirational boxes as well as prayer beads are the next two Faith Beautifully Crafted offerings.
  • Lyn reviewed a number of events planned over the next couple of months including:
    • May 4— Demetrius Titus on Mass incarceration in the US and the need for prison reform
    • May 2—Laid back book club meeting
    • May 10 and June 14—theology by the glass
    • May 14—June 11; baby bottle collection from Mother’s to Father’s Day
    • June 11—bike ride to Cottage Creamery for ice cream
    • June 25—stroll through 4 gardens (1:00-4:00pm)
  • Other hospitality-focused programs being considered include Around the Table ministry—food focused, e.g., reception after Easter Vigil, Talent Show Night, etc.

Finance Update (Patrick)

  • Patrick reported the Parish finances through the end of the first quarter ending March 31, 2023. The balance sheet increased by $392K to a total of $2.6 million in Net Assets largely due to $140K payment from the federal COVID program, $187K bequest from the Glenn Waters Estate, and higher weekend collections.
  • The Christian Service balance was reduced reflecting the payment of $125K in February. An open house was held in early March for all recipient agencies.
  • Weekend collections through the end of the quarter are $124K higher than budget. Expenses were lower than budget across all categories except utilities and office supplies.
  • We are at ~80% of the 2022-23 CMA target ($200K vs. $250K target). An additional $10-15K is expected by fiscal year end. The remaining shortfall is planned in the budget.

Roundtable Updates

  • Patrick—Audio/Visual equipment in the social hall is being updated. There also is an increased demand for hearing assistance equipment in the church which is being addressed.
  • Patrick—Adjustments to the parish center heating system are planned to isolate hot water flow to the former school building from the parish center offices.
  • Fr. Rob—The gate across the parking lot entrance is working well to deter speeding through the lot.
  • Jeff—Police are ticketing parishioners after Mass on Sugnet. Be wary of speeding out in that direction.
  • Barb—Asked if there were any plans for a church directory. It would be possible but it takes a considerable amount of work to organize the project, especially the taking of photographs. Is there anyone willing to take this on is the question?
  • Annette—Described outreach efforts at Eagle Village including painting, yard work, woodwork, bird feeders, etc. There is an opportunity at Washington Woods.
  • The next meeting will be held on June 7 jointly among the Finance and Pastoral Councils

The meeting was adjourned at 8:18 pm

Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes | February 1, 2023

Attendees: Annette Clark, Dick Dolinski, Fr. Rob Howe, Jim Marinik, Lyn Pajk, Jeff Paulus, Patrick Regier, Cathy Richard, Christine Sellnow, Barb Warczinsky

Excused: Jim Mahoney


  • Meeting began at 7:02pm
  • Jim Marinik moved and Barb Warczinsky seconded the approval of the minutes of the December 7, 2022 joint Pastoral and Finance Councils meeting. The motion carried.

Updates (Fr. Rob)

  • The Arnold Center and the Midland County Educational Service Agency have agreed to utilize classroom space in the school building. Arnold Center is planning to move in the week of February 6. There will be volunteer opportunities for Blessed Sacrament parishioners to work with people with disabilities. The ESA people will move in later.
  • There have been some problems with speeding vehicles going through the parking lot. We’ve received some complaints from neighbors regarding safety considerations along with excessive noise. The Swede and Kentwood entrances to the parking lot will be closed off during the day to prevent the problem.
  • Fr. Rob announced that beginning February 1, Bishop Gruss has  named him Parochial Administrator pro tempore at St. Gabriel Parish in Auburn through June 30 as Fr. Tom Sutton recovers from surgery.

Faith Formation—Middle School Ministry Update (Christine and Lyn)

  • Lyn informed the Council that she plans to retire on June 30. A new team leader will be named. Also we will hire a new Adult Faith Formation Coordinator. The Council expressed their disappointment that she’s leaving as she has been an outstanding leader of Faith Formation during her tenure. She will be missed.
  • Christine and Lyn led a thorough discussion of programs and initiatives for adults and middle school youth as outlined in the attached documents. Attendance at recent events has been encouraging and is higher than last year.

Finance Update (Patrick)

  • Patrick reported the Parish finances through the end of January 2023. Weekend collections are at $937,756 vs. a Budget of $885,153 or $52,103 favorable. The Christmas collection was very good and contributed $19,210 to the total.
  • The Parish balance sheet improved significantly in 2022. Net assets increased by $427,000 largely owing to $140,000 received from the federal government COVID program and $187,000 from a bequest from the Glenn Waters estate. Mr. Waters, a teacher for 34 years, was 107 years old when he died. The entire bequest was credited to our Major Expenditure fund.
  • The 2022-23 Christ Mission Appeal has begun and we’re currently at about 71% of the target. There was a brief discussion of the pros and cons of various collection models including home visits, mail campaigns, etc. but these are beyond the scope of control as the Diocese now runs the appeal.

Roundtable Updates

  • Brackets supporting the church kneelers are being replaced
  • The Christian Service Committee’s open house for this year’s grant recipients will be held after Masses on March 12. This ministry is now ~40 years old and has distributed more than $3 million to Midland area non-profits.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:07pm