Elgin Parish Celebrates Being Debt Free
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
March 17, 2022
ELGIN—St. Joseph’s parishioners, priests and staff are rejoicing because they are debt free with the diocese. The announcement was made during Masses March 12-13. 
Pastor Msgr. Arquímedes Vallejo is particularly pleased because, he said, “One of the biggest concerns I found when Bishop David Malloy appointed me as a pastor (here) was the debt the parish had.” When Msgr. Vallejo began his assignment at St. Joseph, Elgin, July 1, 2020, there were two operating loans totaling $157,981, according to Jodi Rippon, Director for Finance and Administration. 
Added to that challenge, Msgr. Vallejo said, was that “we were in the midst of the pandemic; there were not religious services, the economic situation was terrible for everyone, and the debt kept growing.”
Rippon said that “through the generosity of the faithful community, monthly payments decreased this outstanding balance to $77,120 as of Feb. 28, 2022, and the parish made one final principal payment this week to retire this debt.” 
Msgr. Vallejo explained that the debt reduction strategy included sending letters to parishioners to encourage them to contribute and “reducing the staff from full time to part time” which “saved the parish $70,000 per year.” Msgr. Vallejo said he found in his parishioners an “admirable generosity of people since the beginning to help us at least to survive,” and it was also very valuable to have help from the “diocese and government loans so we could survive (the pandemic).”
In order to be transparent, Msgr. Vallejo said a tracking thermometer was displayed in the church showing the progress of how much money was collected. “Three months ago, (the progress) was frozen at $80,000 because we wanted to surprise our people, since the collection was growing every week,” he said.
A number of volunteers have also contributed, helping in the office and in different activities, even cleaning the church. Laura Carpio said, “I donate three to five hours in the afternoon or the time the parish needs me.” In addition to the work of parishioners, “our priests have worked very hard. Teamwork and the leadership of Mgr. Vallejo were keys in the fundraising process,” Carpio said.
Msgr. Vallejo recognized the “great sacrifice” and faith of the parishioners. “This is the hope of the people and love of the people,” he said. And for that reason, he is “deeply thankful for the integration of the Anglo and Hispanic cultures. We are just one community, one faith, one love in two languages — English and Spanish.”
The parish was founded in 1887, and each generation has kept the church in good condition for the next one; therefore, the projects seem to never end. Msgr. Vallejo explained that the next task is to fix the deteriorated wood and fabric pews and kneelers. “The project is to change them, and that would cost approximately $40,000,” he said, adding that the parish is waiting for “the authorization from the diocese to collect the funds” to start the pews project. 
St. Joseph, Elgin has 1709 registered families. There are two Masses during the week, one in English and one in Spanish. On weekends there are 10 Masses, two of which are in English. Serving the parish with Msgr. Vallejo are two parochial vicars; Fathers Uverney Ramos and Cesar A. Rodríguez.
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