Apostle's League of Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center
Whenever I do the Stewardship portion of the retreats – this is the time when I ask retreatants for their retreat donation – I inform the group that the suggested donation of $160.00 falls short of the actual amount that it costs us for each retreatant. When I arrived in Prior Lake in 2007, we quoted the figure of $250.00 per person as our actual cost; in 2013, Kelley Chromy our bookkeeper ran the numbers and determined that our costs had risen by over 50%! Inevitably, I am asked, “How are you able to keep your doors open?” “Many of our retreatants give more than the $160.00 that we request,” I respond, “an important way that we have been able to bridge this gap between the suggested retreat donation and the actual cost of a retreat is through individual donations, memorials, bequests, and most importantly, participation in the Apostle’s League.”
Membership in the Apostle’s League is purely voluntary. Members agree to three things: 1) to pray for the retreat ministry here and for the men and women who come on retreat; 2) to promote retreats that are offered by Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center and 3) to commit to a quarterly monetary pledge. In his welcome remarks to retreatants, Fr. Ken Bartsch would always ask who was wearing their Apostle’s League pins (for those who forgot, he always had an extra one to hand out.)
The late Fr. Simeon “Sam” Yates came up with the name of this program where retreatants could select an amount that they felt comfortable giving on a quarterly basis. The reasoning was (and still is) that retreatants can decide for themselves what their level of giving will be and they commit to that level until we hear otherwise. When I arrived at Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center is 2007, contributions from the Apostle’s League amounted to 17% of our operating budget. Last fiscal year, Apostle’s League contributions had dropped to 10.3% of our operating budget. In 2007, we had 526 active participants in the Apostle’s League; now we are at 314.
In 2008, the country went through one of its worst recessions in its history. Many people lost their jobs, their savings, their homes and their financial security. All non-profit organizations were hit hard by this financial crisis and we were no exception. Many of our retreatants had to discontinue their membership in the Apostle’s League.
Add to this crisis the fact that our retreatants are getting older, and many of them are moving into Senior or Assisted Living communities. These communities are marvelous places, but are often quite expensive, which means that our retreatants have less discretionary income. Their Apostle’s League pledge has to be suspended. Another sad truth is that many of our retreatants are being called home by Sister Death.
In 2014, we are within two years of the 50th Anniversary of the first overnight retreat offered here in Prior Lake (the date was January 6, 1966), and we hope that the Retreat Center will continue for another 50 years but we need the increased support of our friends during these times of transition.
We have set a lofty goal of increasing our membership in the Apostle’s League by 50% by 2016. With that goal in mind I am asking you the reader to consider one of two things: 1) if you are not now a member of the Apostle’s League, please sign up today. 2) if you are a member of the Apostle’s League, Thank You, and if you can increase your pledge please do so. By becoming a member of the Apostle’s League or by increasing your current pledge, you are saying that you want Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center to be here for another 50 years.
A couple of the new benefits of being members of the Apostle’s League is that members are remembered once a month at a Mass that is celebrated in the Friary or during a Retreat. We have also planned a “Thank You” cookout for Apostle’s League members on Sunday, September 14 (see below for details).
Thank you for all of your support.
Br. Bob Roddy, OFM, Conv., Director