As pastor of a large and vibrant congregation, the Rev. Andrew Fischer asks a lot of his parishioners, but he couldn't have imagined the outpouring of generosity he witnessed in his church this holiday season.
Fischer hoped this year's giving would match last year's, but he knows the economy is struggling.
His flock met the challenge and then some, donating 378 $20 Kmart gift cards. Do the math, and you come up with an impressive and heartfelt $7,560 in donations to food pantry clients.
"This is a big, suburban parish, and the people are active," Fischer said. "The people are so giving when I ask."
As many as 1,000 people regularly attend Mass each weekend. That number grows significantly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as the pews fill up with families for whom attending Mass is a holiday tradition. We asked Fischer if he feels extra pressure, knowing he might have the opportunity to move those who hear him.
"It's God," he said. "He's the one that moves the people."
Those unable to attend Mass this weekend can hear what else Fischer has to say. He taped a special celebration of Christmas Mass, which will air at 6 a.m. Sunday on television station PCNC.
For those who plan to attend Mass on Christmas Eve it will be celebrated at 4 p.m., when the children's choir will sing, and 6, 8 and 10 p.m. Christmas Day Mass will be at 9 and 11 a.m.
Fischer has been with St. Margaret Mary for about a year and a half. In that time, he's brought his own sense of style to the parish, including the first bright orange Christmas tree we've ever seen this side of Waikiki.
"I just like orange," Fischer said.