"My philosophy is, if you do not get it in the Sunday collection plate start a business," says Father Jim Harnan, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Lampasas and a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
And while they cannot truly be categorized as businesses, St. Mary operates several enterprises that contribute to the parish's financial health and the spiritual health of the community.Its cafeteria, which sells tacos every morning except Monday from 5 to 11 a.m., is a major source of revenue for the parish."People can come have a breakfast taco for $2," Father Harnan
said, then quickly added in his
Irish accent, "but if they do not have money they can still get a taco."The parish also operates a thrift store called Shared Blessings, and like the cafeteria, items are for sale but if someone does not have money, they can take what they need.These operations help fund an active food pantry, a job opportunities board, an English as a second language program, a health education program and a program called Bienvenido that ministers to immigrants from Mexico.If passers-by need a place to stay and have no money, Father Harnan
sources to get them a bed for the night.A new chapel was recently added to the parish office building where adorations are held.The ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) program is a driving force among parishioners.Father Harnan
is looking for a youth program director. "I find people here are so generous when it comes to the poor," said Father Harnan
who has been at St. Mary for five years."When we want something done in this parish, if the people believe in it, it gets done."Perhaps that is why this parish of modest means, and its mission Good Shepherd in Lometa, set the pace in the diocese's pilot phase of the capital campaign.Of seven parishes in the pilot project, Lometa led the pack, raising 369 percent of its pledge and St. Mary came right behind with 175 percent. It has not always been this way at St. Mary; its history is one of trial and tribulation.Father Harnan is a great advocate of knowing your parish history.
In 1967 when he
came to the United States from his
native Ireland, he
was assigned to St. Henry in South San Antonio.Before long, he
had compiled a book-length history of the parish.
Today, as St. Mary is beginning to feel the growing pains of Central Texas, the people have a vision for the future, Father Harnan
said.The parish has bought 45 acres south of town for a future campus.Presently, church buildings are crammed into six landlocked acres located in a flood plain.The first step in its expansion will be a community center that should come along in about two years, said Father Harnan
. The final decisions on how to proceed will be made by the parish community."I tell them that they were here before I came and they will be here after I leave, so it is their decision what we will do," Father Harnan
said. "People here have a good concept of practical stewardship," Father Harnan
added, "not just money but time and talent.