How can my Parish be in this bad financial shape? (Or, there has been concern for years, I’m not surprised!)
I find this to be the most frustrating of the concerns on a number of fronts. It was brought to my attention years ago, that even though one might communicate information, if that communication is not received or received accurately, then the communication is not effective. An example of this is Parish Bulletins. Who does the parish bulletin reach? Who does it not reach?
We get frustrated that attendance to Mass, and parish programs and events is low, and assume that it is apathy, when in fact it just may be lack of effective communication to all involved. In previous communities that I served as pastor or administrator, we would collect one half of the bulletins printed, many already read, from the pews on Monday morning.
Parishes spend a great deal of money and resources to prepare financial statements every year that are mailed out, inserted into bulletins, and placed at the rear of churches. Some parishes have a person from the finance council present this information, bringing the importance of increased giving to the people. I can honestly not remember hearing it said “we are doing fine, no need to increase your giving at all.”
Parishioners at each parishes have shared with me that they have been painfully aware (though some may not have wanted to accept it) of the dire financial and physical condition of the parishes far beyond the forming of the Collaborative in 2013.
Other than this year (for fiscal 2019) The collaborative published a financial report annually in the fall. Prior to 2013, I am told that each of the three parishes published financial reports even if sporadically. I am also aware that Fr. Shawn met with Saint Mary parishioners (the only parish in the collaborative that he met with individually) to address financial concerns, and that the Archdiocese provided financial assistance to Saint Mary. If indeed parishes published financial statements, Saint Mary parishioners would have been aware that the parish has been running an operational deficit for over 20 years, with few exceptions. This deficit has a significant increase after the removal of Fr. Nyhan. For many, if not all, his years serving, Fr. Sullivan (out of Christian charity) did not take a salary that was due to him.
Saint Theresa parishioners would have been aware that their end of the year results have fluctuated between profit and deficit, the amount of which has been directly affected by the funds due from the other two parishes after collaboration began.
Saint Andrew has also fluctuated between profit and deficit over the past 20 years, more often ending in a modest profit.
The deferred maintenance of each of our 7 buildings has been a concern for all parishes. Some maintenance issues were ignored, a few critical ones were addressed, some were inadequately addressed in a “what we can afford now” fashion, but never fixed in an appropriate way.