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Parish Finance Council Members: Update Print E-mail

“Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every living creature.”
-Mark 16:15

 MEMORANDUM

TO:           Pastors
   
FROM:   Sean P. Dolan

RE:          Meetings with Parish Finance Council Members: Spring Update 

DATE:    June 4, 2010

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Following is a report following up on the three informational meetings the Pastoral Center of the Diocese convened over the winter with parish finance council members.  The report provides an update on recent developments concerning a variety of issues raised during those meetings.

I encourage you to share it with members of your finance council.    [Download this Document as a PDF Here]

If you have any questions, please contact my office and I will be glad to help.

 
June 15, 2010

Meetings with Parish Finance Council Members:  Spring Update

Introduction
In February and March of 2010, the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Rockville Centre convened three informational meetings with parish finance council members to discuss general financial conditions and outlook for the Diocese and the parishes. 

Echoing the words of Bishop Murphy during the meeting held at St. Sylvester’s, we are all extremely grateful in this diocese to have so many dedicated and committed professionals who serve by generously giving their time and talent to their parishes so that each one of them may continue to carry out the vital spiritual and pastoral ministries of our Church.

This report is a summary of some of the discussions held at the winter meetings, including questions and answers exchanged, and provides an update on recent developments concerning a variety of the issues raised during those meetings. 

Our Diocese in Brief
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (the “diocese”) (www.drvc.org) was formed from the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1957.  By way of population, the diocese is the fifth largest diocese in the U.S.  It is comprised of 134 (133 plus the campus parish) parishes in 115 towns as well as the Diocesan corporation, headquartered in the Pastoral Center (50 North Park Ave., Rockville Centre, NY 11571).  The diocese is blessed with over 370 priests, 771 religious women, 72 brothers and 250 deacons in ministry.

Last year alone in the diocese:

  • 17,000 were baptized into the Catholic faith
  • 17,000 children received Jesus for the first time in the Holy Eucharist
  • 19,000 adolescents were confirmed
  • 3,000 couples married into the Church
  • Catholic clergy and community provided consolation to families and loved ones of over 12,000 Catholics

 

Last year, over 33,000 students were educated in 57 Catholic elementary and ten Catholic high schools by over 2,000 dedicated educators:

  • 99 percent of our high school graduates went on to college
  • There is one seminary (Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY) (www.icseminary.edu) and one Catholic college (Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY) (www.molloy.edu) in the diocese.

 

In the Diocese of Rockville Centre, there are 17,000 catechists educating 120,000 children in religious education each year.

In 2008, more than 55,000 poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals were assisted by Catholic Charities of Long Island (www.catholiccharities.cc).  Throughout 2009 and 2010, Catholic Charities has continued its vital assistance to thousands of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island (CHSLI) (www.chsli.org) serves thousands of Long Islanders each year through its system of six hospitals, three nursing homes, a regional home care and hospice network and a community-based agency for those with special needs.

Summary of Discussions at the Winter Meetings
During the winter meetings, the general financial condition of the Diocese corporation, the parishes and related organizations was outlined.  Among the main points presented were the following:

  • annual expenses exceed revenues for each ministry;
  • parish cash balances are diminishing;
  • many parishes have minimal to no liquid assets;
  • 100 parishes approached or experienced operating deficits in 2009;
  • a number of elementary schools face enrollment and financial challenges requiring subsidy;
  • all parishes have deferred building maintenance needs, many of them very significant; and
  • as in most, if not all, defined benefit plans worldwide, unfunded pension liabilities exist in lay and priest plan.

 

Among other issues, numerous factors, it was noted, are severely affecting our ability to meet financial obligations and the needs of the People of God and the broader Long Island community.  Chief among them is the steady decrease in Mass attendance over the past ten years and related decreases in Mass offertory contributions.  In addition, coupled with decreasing revenue from offertory and demographic shifts in the communities we serve, there is an increasing demand on the level and scope of services needed. 

Finally, investment losses incurred during the recent financial crisis, reduced savings and capital, dramatically increasing payroll (including healthcare and pension expenses) and rising operating and maintenance expenses are all contributing to the financial stress that has been placed on the entire diocesan network.  

Today, while many parishes are financially sound, current analysis shows a trend that, if it continues, will result in significant operating deficits across the diocese in the near term. 

In the course of the meetings, it was emphasized that, in order for the diocese, the schools and parishes to return to long-term financial stability, the strengthening of financial operating controls and processes is essential. 

Update -- Where We Are Since the Winter Meetings

The Voluntary Separation Program (VSP)
On February 1, 2010, a diocese-wide voluntary separation program (VSP) began at the Diocese corporation, the parish corporations and their elementary and high schools, the regional elementary schools and Diocesan High Schools, Telecare, Catholic Press Association (d/b/a The Long Island Catholic and Fe Fuerza Vida), The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, and Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.  To date over 500 employees from the organizations that offered the VSP have elected to participate. 
Currently, the operational and financial effects of this program are being evaluated.  Collaborations are being explored to see if synergies are possible that will result in expense savings without sacrificing programs.  The hope is that as many pastoral ministries as possible may continue with reduced personnel and consolidated costs, thereby easing the strain on budgets. 

Financing options in the form of low cost loans are being evaluated for parishes that require short-term assistance to cover VSP-related costs.

Charles M. Trunz, III
Charles M. Trunz completed his service as Chief Operating Officer of the Diocese corporation.  Bishop Murphy is grateful for Mr. Trunz’ work.  By instituting income, cash balance and expense reporting at the parish, school and diocesan levels, Mr. Trunz has improved the content, accuracy and analysis of financial information.

Moving Forward
In hearing from pastors, employees, volunteers and concerned parishioners all across Long Island, we know that these past several months have been challenging ones. 

Recently, Bishop Murphy wrote to all pastors, informing them that, on a going forward basis, balanced budgets must be achieved by the Diocese corporation, all parishes and schools, and all related organizations.

Further, parishes, the Diocese corporation and its pastoral ministries must develop and utilize monthly financial reporting for their own guidance and for the information of the Pastoral Center, which will offer professional assistance when needed.  

Thirdly, Bishop Murphy has asked that all premiums for insurance, medical, and pension plans be electronically transferred from parish accounts to the proper Pastoral Center office so that we all fulfill our the responsibility of being up-to-date in paying what is owed in justice for employees of parishes, schools and the diocese corporation.

Kevin Murphy and the parish services staff are ready to help parishes in fulfilling these requirements.

At present, the Pastoral Center management team is being led by Rev. Msgr. Robert Brennan, vicar general.  This management team is comprised of four individuals:  Kevin Murphy, Director of Administration; William Chapin, Director of Risk Management; Tom Doodian, Director of Finance and Tom Renker, General Counsel.  This management team will meet with the Diocesan Finance Council regularly.

Over the past year, the Pastoral Center has made great strides in understanding the financial picture of all diocesan organizations.  There are now enhanced financial disciplines and operating standards for the Diocese corporation, parishes, schools and all operating entities.  Equally important, the focus on finances during this past year has served as a catalyst for greater awareness and discussions of financial issues with pastors, parishioners, employees, and trustees. 

At present, the management team of the Pastoral Center is working at overcoming a significant budget deficit for the Diocese Corporation and presenting a balanced budget to the Diocesan Finance Counsel as soon as practicable.
END

 [Download this Document as a PDF Here]