Church Census / Parish Picture Directory

“Christmas Packages”

     By now you should have received your Christmas envelope in the mail. In addition to the Christmas card and greetings from me and the staff, there is a letter and what we call a “census” form. The reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem was because there was a great census being taken by the emperor. He wanted to know who his subjects were and where they lived or were from. Joseph had to go there as his family was from Bethlehem. This census taking was done a regular basis as its real reason was so taxes could be assessed to all the inhabitants of the land.  (Everything boils down to money, even in those days!)

     It has been a long time since a census was taken for our parishes. Therefore, this is the reason we are sending out the papers you received…not just to figure out how to get money though! Over the years things change. People move away, get married, have children, or maybe even decide to join another church, Catholic or otherwise. It is time to update what we have in paper files and put the information in a more usable electronic format. This is also a way to help save money when mailing things when many people now use email instead of U.S. mail. We also get folks who come for Sacraments or funerals who presume they are listed as “members” because they were under their parent’s name…even if they are now in their 30’s or even 60’s.

     What the parish staff and volunteers have been doing for many months is updating all our paper records and entering the data into a “new” program. Much of this work was done by Erin, our new business manager, and her “crew.” Thanks to them we were now able to print out what we have on everyone who we have listed as parishioners. Nonetheless, when converting the data, we did have, it was noticeable how much information was missing. The Combined Parish Council, whose focus is on the future of the parishes, discussed having a new pictorial directory made since it has been a time since the last ones. This one will not be done by a “company” who was in it to sell portraits. Instead with today’s capabilities, we will be making our own and taking our own pictures for the book.

Please look over the forms you received and make changes, additions to missing data, or deleting what is no longer up to date. I apologize up front for any mistakes that you may find or even where we may have missed the death of someone, especially if there were no services in any of our churches. Starting in February and through the summer, there will be people at weekend Masses (on a rotating basis) to take photos. When you normally come to Mass you will either come a little early or stay after, turn in your form, and have a photo taken. No making appointments, no meeting with anyone to sell you anything, just turn in your updated form and be included in the new directory. Our goal of course is to have 100% participation and to reach that goal we will even be going to those who are homebound or in an institution and cannot come to the church.

     If it is easier, you may complete the form and turn it in at the office too and then not have to hang on to it until you have your picture taken. If at any time you have questions, please call the office and someone will try to assist you. (231) 627-2105. One important factor to keep in mind is that when anyone turns 18, they are technically responsible for joining the parish themselves, or at least as soon as they finish higher education and move out of their parents’ home. Everyone over the age of 25 should be on file as a member themselves. A blank registration form can be found at      Now you know the connection between our sending out these census forms during the Christmas season. We are doing the same thing that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The one main difference though is that I hope no one has a baby waiting in line to turn in their forms or to have their picture taken! Thank you for your participation and cooperation in this major project for our parishes.