Viewpoint: Snow plows under parish budgets


Lent would be a good time to give the snow devil a cold shoulder.

That’s Father William T. Cocco’s feeling at St. John the Beloved in Wilmington, where as pastor he’s been watching the unusual amounts of snowfall cover the church’s and school’s walkways and extensive square feet of parking lots.

“Snow removal, putting down salt, maintenance, it’s not cheap,” Father Cocco said last week before the eighth significant snow of the winter covered parish property on Monday.

The pastor said he’d let SJB parishioners know “what we’ve had to pay. We do have a maintenance envelope, which helps pay general maintenance.”

Plowing at St. John the Beloved has kept the church doors open, however.

The snow has been piling up at St. John the Beloved and every other parish this winter. (The Dialog/

“We’ve not canceled a Mass this winter,” Father Cocco said. “We had one Mass where no one showed up. It snowed for a whole day. We had seven people at 6:30 but none at the 8.”

At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bear, the pastor, Father Roger DiBuo, said the parish budget line for snow removal was hardly spent for the past couple of years.

“This year we have far exceeded what we budgeted for. One thing we have done is put snow removal envelopes in the church,” the pastor said.

So far, donations for snow removal haven’t been enough to pay the bills, but, Father DiBuo said, “We want to make sure we’ll be open for religious liturgies and parish functions. … We appreciate any extra help our parishioners can give.”

In Dover, Father James Lentini, pastor of Holy Cross Church, says the parish gets “a pretty good discount” from the contractor who clears the property. Holy Cross lets the contractor use its parking lot as a staging area for his equipment during a storm.

Father Lentini is also pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Marydel, Md., where a parishioner with a plow has usually cleared the lot. However, this year when that parishioner was sick and couldn’t plow, another snowstorm arrived.

“Members of the Hispanic community came out with shovels, a dozen people or more, and shoveled the whole parking lot,” Father Lentini said. The feat took hours and showed the strength of the Marydel parish community, he added.

So, inspired by people in Marydel who shoveled the grounds themselves, it’s time for all parishioners to come to the aid of their parish’s snow removal expenses. Be generous with your envelope contributions this Lent or grab a shovel and help.


Ryan is editor/general manager of The Dialog.