Catholic Free Press

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Diocesan financial picture improves over last year

Posted By December 20, 2012 | 1:01 pm | Lead Story #1
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Photo by Tanya Connor

Bishops of the Diocese of Worcester open Year of Faith at St. Paul Cathedral.

 

By William T. Clew

The Diocese of Worcester, after a complete audit of its financial accounting, has reported that it finished the fiscal year on Aug. 31 with an operating surplus of $109,804 after expenses of $26,037,091.
Last  year, the diocese had expenses of $27,016,336 and finished with a deficit of $315,690.
In a letter to the people of the diocese, Bishop McManus  said  “our financial reports demonstrate that we have been good stewards of the donations we have received either directly or through our parishes.”
He said that the reduction of nearly $1 million in expenses from last year shows that “the various departments in our central administration exercised tight controls in order to operate within their budgets.”
The Diocesan Expansion Fund (DEF), which invests parish savings and makes loans to parishes for projects, ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $492,965. The bishop praised the DEF board for conservative management.
“This fund provides a safe and secure resource for parish and diocesan savings while meeting borrowing needs with competitive rates,” he wrote.
He noted what he called two areas of concern.
“First is the continued need to service outstanding debts which cost Central Administration $1,043,367 last year. A significant portion of this debt is the result of interest paid to the DEF to cover unpaid bills owed to Central Administration by some parishes. Specific efforts which began over the past year are already seeing some turnaround on these outstanding bills and we are committed to continuing this trend during this fiscal year.
“The unfunded portion of Priests’ Retirement Costs is the other area of ongoing concern, since expenses exceeded revenue sources by $1,113,125. The past year involved focused discussion with representative pastors and retired clergy on identifying ways to improve cost controls while finding new sources of revenue dedicated to priests’ retirement. While the trend of deficit spending cannot and will not disappear in the coming year, continued analysis should help us determine a long-term strategy to bring it under control,” the bishop wrote.
Even with a $450,000 subsidy from Partners in Charity, retirement programs for clergy operated at significant expenses over revenue, up from the previous year, a diocesan press release stated.
“While the trend of deficit spending in the area cannot and will not disappear in the coming year, continued analysis should help us determine a long-range strategy to bring it under control,” the bishop wrote in his letter.
Partners in Charity helps to support 29 diocesan agencies, ministries and programs. The revenue reported in this year’s fiscal report was raised in the 2011 campaign.
According to the annual report, Partners in Charity, in 2011, received pledges and gifts totaling $4,724,350. Of that amount, $247,969 was uncollected, leaving $4,476,381 in available funds. Of that amount, $4,418,595 was used to support Partners in Charity services, leaving a $57,766 surplus.
In his letter the bishop noted that the 2012 Appeal raised more than it had in the previous year and that “the generous response to this appeal is an indication of the commitment to our mission by over 20,500 households in our diocese, including 1,300 new households who participated through online giving.”
In September, the Office for Stewardship and Development reported that the 2012 Partners in Charity Appeal raised $4,835,997, short of the $5 million goal but ahead of last year’s total.
The St. John’s Cemetery System showed a balanced report due in part to a subsidy of $167,820 from Partners in Charity. That was down from the subsidy of $180,492 last year. The system “continued to make necessary improvements to the various cemeteries which are now part of the system, causing expenses to exceed revenues by $167,820. Deficit spending in this system was further compounded by a continuing trend to choose cremation over interment in a grave, resulting in lower revenues than anticipated for the year,” the bishop wrote.
Central Catholic Schools had a deficit of $93,146 on expenses of $12,341,823 before accounting for depreciation and non-operational funding. Central Catholic schools include St. Peter Elementary, Holy Name Junior/Senior High School and St. Peter-Marian Junior/Senior High School, all in Worcester, and St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg. There were 1,772 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the four schools.
The bishop said that “while many families are interested in sending their children to Catholic schools, we continue to be challenged by increased requests for financial aid to meet the demonstrated need of so many families in this difficult economy.”
The Catholic Free Press showed a deficit of $95,681, down from a deficit of $103,990 last year. The newspaper, which also disseminates the news on its website and through other electronic and social media, operated within its approved budget that had projected a loss of $136,387.
“Given the variety of media which people use today, we are developing, with the support of our Presbyterial Council, a strategic media plan with professional assistance during the current fiscal year,” the bishop wrote.
“As we pause to reflect on our operations this year, it is with the firm resolve to do even more with these resources in the future,” the bishop wrote. “As we embark on the Year of Faith together with the Universal Church, let us recognize that we are supporting our parishes in their mission to bring our parishioners into a closer encounter with Christ.
“We are all called by our baptism to serve each other in a particular way. May our Year of Faith be an opportunity to awaken that personal sense of mission which calls us to know and love Jesus Christ and to be witness to his love in our community.”
The financial this year was audited by O’Connor, Maloney & Co., P.C. of Worcester.
The annual report  is being distributed as a supplement to parish bulletins. Both will be available online at www.worcesterdiocese.org.
The annual report was prepared internally for publication by the Office of Communications.
Questions about the supplemental details report or audited financial statement may be directed to Carol Adams, co-director of diocesan Financial Affairs at 508-929-4340 or by email to cadams@worcesterdiocese.org.

 

Photo by Tanya Connor

Bishops of the Diocese of Worcester open Year of Faith at St. Paul Cathedral.