Our 17 year old Church Van is no longer in service because of insurance underwriting issues, age and mechanical issues, and revised Diocese rules. We lost the use of the van rather suddenly in October, not long after the start of a brand new school year at Appalachian State University. As a result, a noticeably large drop in college student participation at Sunday Masses, as well as other Masses and events has occurred. While the carpool idea has been looked at to see if it can be refined and made more successful, it is generally agreed that no carpool is ever going to make up for what the van once did..
Our Youth and other groups who used the Church Van for both local and out of town trips also saw a noticeable drop in participation when those trips were no longer part of the program. The noticeable decrease in attendance and participation at Mass and other Church functions by our youth and young adults as well as parents of these young people is a growing concern within our Parish. We are losing these people to other churches with active and viable Youth Ministries. Reversing this trend is critical to our future. A reliable and safe mode of transportation for transporting our Youth, University Students, and Young Adults as a group to activities organized and sponsored by our Parish or our Diocese is at the very top of Our Most Critical Needs List.
Studies have firmed up an objective for bus type and capacity for our Youth Ministries, Parish Ministries, and University Ministries. We have been shopping bus companies and we have a pretty good idea of the funding needed to make this happen. We think the purchase of this vehicle can be extremely useful to St. Elizabeth Church, the Catholic Campus Ministry, and Church of the Epiphany as we grow our ministries and seek to develop and expand planned new ministries. A bus must be viewed as an investment in the future of our Parish rather than as an expense and burden on the Parish.
As with the now defunct van, there will be ongoing maintenance and operating costs. It's not a one time expense. We will continue to ask for special funding for transportation operations even after we acquire a bus so as to keep expenses out of our regular operating fund, insofar as possible.
If you are willing and able to contribute to the acquisition and operation of a bus to replace the Church Van, please do so immediately. The NEED is NOW and it is CRITICAL! Your generosity will be appreciated for years to come. If you can help, please call the Church Office, contact Fr. Matthew, or just make your check payable to St. Elizabeth Church Bus Fund and send it to the Parish Office or drop it in a collection basket at Mass.