Wednesday, June 6, 2007

At what point does the well run dry?

Last week we were notified that our parish ended the fiscal year in the red. This has not happened for some time and I know many parishioners find the news alarming. Currently, we are raising money for a newly proposed makeshift middle school, 6 million in debt reduction on new church, a new social hall, a $60,000 Net youth team, 30-40 thousand dollars for upkeep of our historic church, and a new k-8 catholic grade school building. I humbly throw out the question: Our we a bit overextended?
The good Lord has blessed our parish with an incredible Pastor and wonderful gifts. We have so many Christ filled parishioners doing so many wonderful things. We have raised many thousands of dollars and built what many consider the most beautiful modern church in the area. Have we reached a point where we might need to listen and pray and make sure all our endeavours are what Christ truly has planned for us? We are having trouble raising new money and collections have not grown despite a steady infusion of new families.
Is the money out there? I wish it was in my checkbook but I seem to be missing a few zero's in my balance. Let's all pray and fast for our leaders so they will be able to make the best decisions during this apparent dry fiscal time. Curious to see how others feel about this important topic.


Anonymous said...

Leonidas, I think you are asking a very good question, or questions, about the prudence of planning more, bigger things for the parish while we're in debt and apparently having trouble raising more money. Thanks for the opportunity to comment on this important topic. The way I read your post, you think we're overextended, or heading that way. I can't say I completely disagree, but I would offer a couple of thoughts to the contrary.
Overextended would mean that our debt is too large for our income, which in the case of the parish means the donations the church is getting from its parishioners. In my opinion, it's not the vision and the associated spending (or debt) that is the problem, but rather the stinginess of the parishioners. If my math is correct, the parish of 2000 families is taking in about $15,000 a week, or about $7.50 a week per family! I know these are averages, and of course many families give more to make up for those who give nothing, but it still illustrates the point that the "average" family is contributing a very meager figure.
Secondly, visions are not set by the masses, but rather by visionary individuals (or sometimes small groups). I would rather be challenged by an audacious goal from a visionary Pastor than let the "average" person, like the meager givers above, set the pace. I think if that had been our strategy, we'd still be watching Mass on TV in the old church basement, and watching our families bleed off...
I do agree with you we will need prayer, for the wisdom of our leaders and for the generousity of our parishioners.

Mark12:42 said...

I guess it depends on how you think the financial planning in the parish should be handled. I think people will fall into one of two camps:

1. The vision or direction should be decided and the parishioners need to fund it. In this case I would say that being in the red isn't a huge deal.

2. The available funding should be looked at and based on the situation, the vision or direction should be decided. In this case I would say we are over extended.

I fall into the first camp. If you run the numbers (families, average income, etc.) the parishioners are NOT fulfilling the 5th precept of the Church:

"You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church."

We could argue all day as to what constitutes a "need", but I think we can all agree that's not where the real problem lies. The problem is with people just not giving a reasonable amount.

Of course it’s never good to be irresponsible with the money. But I think the Parish ended up in the red due more to the lack of generosity than being overextended.

People pay 28%-30% in taxes and you hear the occasional whining, but ask them to kick in 2% or 3% to the Church and you can hear them SCREAM!!!!

Anonymous said...

"I would rather be challenged by an audacious goal from a visionary Pastor than let the "average" person, like the meager givers above, set the pace. I think if that had been our strategy, we'd still be watching Mass on TV in the old church basement, and watching our families bleed off..."


Holy Water said...

The Parish is committed to providing Catholic education to our children. I am in favor of this. However, 40% of the Church income goes to funding the school.
If the visions of the parish become too demanding, the school will become at risk.

Anonymous said...

Holy Water, I believe your figure is incorrect. The parish is committed to supporting the school up to 40% of the school's costs. But check on it in case I'm the one who's got it wrong.
To continue: in fact, the parish hasn't had to kick in 40% but rather 25-30% in the last several years. Nevertheless, in theory the parish's financial support for the school could be diminished if the parish gets into financial trouble, so I agree with you there. But at the end of the day, I prefer to live with hope and confidence in the parish's success rather than fear of its failure.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I don't have any fear of our parish's failure. I am just a hopeful person and I believe our church will get what she needs to continue on and do well. But the general attitude out there (well, the unfiltered one I've been hearing from friends and relatives) is that our church is overextending itself and is too far-reaching in it's goals. I personally think it's NICE to have big goals, but I also personally don't like the schmaltzy/salesman-y way the capital campaigns have been run. It's just a matter of presentation for me. It's a little hard to stomach having to spend thousands of dollars to have OTHER people tell us how to get thousands of dollars from other people. Catch my drift? I know I know I know, that's how you do things these days, right? But I guess it would be a little easier to handle our own parish councils coming up with our OWN plan and following through on it without so much fumbling and meddling from slick outsiders who don't know us very well. At one of the "townhall" meetings, I was very put off by the behavior of the "professional fundraisers" the parish hired to run the campaign. I was also a little embarassed for the parishioners in charge of the capital campaign who seemed to keep looking to those slicksters for help when they fumbled or couldn't answer a question fast enough. I don't know how to get more out of people, but a humble request from the priests can do the trick sometimes. I say, don't sell your church's soul for the buck. If a person has to "get something out of it" like a middle school, or more school funding, or a social hall, or some other big thing or promise before they donate even a little bit o' money, maybe that's not the kind of money we want funding our church? Also, I wish people wouldn't presume to know the hearts of those "average parishioners who don't give their share" and continue to site the stats about how much they AREN'T giving, not considering family problems, how many children they have to provide for, other financial obligations, etc.. I wish good intentions would fund the church into debt freedom, but that's not the reality (if it were, I would have enough money to keep our church in the black for 100 years!) so I guess we'll have to rely mostly on prayer and the patience of the parish to achieve it's goals(either that, or more pushy guys in nice suits and shiny shoes... heehee, couldn't resist!)