There is a story in today’s St. Louis Review about how the Archdiocese is exercising good stewardship in a bad economy. Great. Then why do a story?
And there are some rumblings in this article that parish assistance grants may decrease, that parishes will get help to budget conservatively, and that some parishes may need to examine whether they are able to support their schools.
Like I said, an interesting story…
Archdiocese exercising good stewardship in bad economy
by Barbara Watkins, Review Staff Writer
The archdiocese is reacting to the downturn in the economy by continuing to practice good stewardship, while being proactive and prudent with its resources, according to Deacon C. Frank Chauvin, archdiocesan chief financial officer.
“The archdiocese is continuing its mission,” said Deacon Chauvin. “But we may have to make some changes in how we carry out that mission.”
Deacon Dan Henroid, director of the archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Office, agreed. “We will continue to preach the Gospel, to provide the sacraments, to provide Catholic eduction.”
“And our huge outreach in social justice, for the unemployed, the underemployed, the disadvantaged, the handicapped, we want to continue that,” said Deacon Chauvin.
Deacon Henroid said, “We are not changing all that. But how we do it may have to change.”
In the past, the archdiocese has been able to assist parishes that have had difficulties meeting ongoing expenses. That will no longer be possible to the same extent as in the past, Deacon Chauvin said.
“The archdiocese is not immune to what is going on in the general economy,” Deacon Chauvin said. The archdiocese’s investment income, like that of other investors, has dropped. “The archdiocese, as well as parishes, rely on that investment income to support our various missions.”
The archdiocese is holding meetings with priests and deacons in the 10 deaneries to explain the potential financial impact. And archdiocesan officials are meeting individually with pastors from about 50 parishes that are expected to be most affected.
“We want to make sure they will make whatever adjustments are needed to deal with the economic downturn so they are not caught short,” said Deacon Chauvin.
In recent years some parishes have been unable to meet their ongoing expenses. Others have had significant drops in their parish school enrollment.
“Some parishes have both issues,” said Deacon Henroid. By speaking to pastors about the issues, Deacon Chauvin said, “Our goal is to try and help them prepare realistic budgets so that they can know how to continue to operate.
This is being good stewards with the resources we have.” Deacon Henroid said, “We need to help them budget more conservatively in the coming year. Like a typical family, you have so much income and so many things you’d like to do. You can’t do them all. So you set your priorities.”
“We have to look at the practicality that our people, as much as they love their parishes and their schools, may not be in a financial position to support them,” said Deacon Henroid. “And good stewardship means we help our parishes plan for the future, including in bad economic times.”
One way the archdiocese is helping is by the creation of resource teams to help parishes with budgeting and priorities in planning and budgeting.
Father Denny Schaab, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Valley Park, attended the financial meeting with the Southwest and Southeast County deaneries. He said, “I heard their message. I think the archdiocese is doing what it needs to do. On the parish level we certainly wouldn’t be doing any expansion at this time or increasing the number of our personnel. We are running our budget very tightly already.”
Msgr. Pieper added, “It will impact parishes differently. Where it will lead no one knows at this point. There are many parishes affected immediately.”
The financial belt-tighten is not intended to curtail emergency services, Deacon Chauvin said. The Annual Catholic Appeal will have funds available to provide emergency grants, for instance.
Deacon Henroid said, “But we are asking parishes to be very judicious in their requests, because we think more requests will be made.”
Deacon Chauvin said, “What we are doing isn’t going to affect our mission. It’s a question of what is and isn’t essential. It’s what we do with our own money at home.”
TESTO IN LINGUA ORIGINALE