Monday, November 8, 2010

To the agitators

There's a few individuals who insist upon agitating. That is why comment moderation continues for now. Jesus tells the parable of the tares and the wheat, which were to grow together until the harvest. Tares are a weed that when first growing look so similar to wheat that telling the difference is difficult.

Experiencing some of that here. Clever.

Regarding the presentation being put online, it is coming. Within the next day or so. To the agitator who keeps harping on it, though, I can tell you that in a nutshell what we presented was to:

A) Balance the budget based on collections (which according to parish admin is approx. $800K a year)
B) Include in that budget a realistic figure for maintenance and repairs
C) Form a fund raising committee and begin a capital campaign to make capital improvements
D) Look at raising funds and saving costs through alternative plans to sell or rent other parish properties

It is not rocket science. All of the above is eminently doable without destroying yet another Catholic Church that is active and viable. Why the rush to destroy St. Vincent's?


  1. Just wonderin' how many years of experience you SOP people have with balancing budgets? How many years of accounting and business experience? You make it sound like a cake walk. Did it ever occur to any of you that during our 3 years of secret meetings, some of these things were discussed?
    Bottom line- the money is not there and BINGO and flippin' pancakes won't remove the deficit.

  2. I'm just wonderin' how many years of experience you have with people and faith and passion and dedication and committment and parish life and community? Bottom line- you tear down that building and you rip a community apart, beyond repair. All for the sake of poor management and poor leadership.

  3. Bottom line, if you spend more than you take in, you need to balance your budget. Vast majority of parishioners have that down in their own households and businesses.

    And flipping pancakes and Bingo worked just fine for years and would work just fine again. Also, I am assuming you know what a capital campaign is and how it differs from other fundraising efforts like Bingo and spaghetti dinners.

    Nope, not a cakewalk. Just some good old-fashioned stewardship decisions and rolling up the collective sleeves to get the job done. Doable. Doable. Doable.

    Consider that parish income from fundraising has dropped from 6% in 2005-2006 to 1% in 2008-2009 (latest figures we have). One has to wonder what is going on, especially if, as we are told, our finances are in dire straits.

  4. TO ANONYMOUS 10:19
    Does an MBA, twenty five years of experience as a director/manager responsible for budgets that exceed ASP budget and being successful with profit and balance qualify in your estimation? Just wondering, and really think, though, that is not the point. Let's discuss issues not people.

  5. So Gretchen and crew- where exactly would you start with the cutting back?

  6. I remember many years ago when it was announced at mass that our beloved Father Davis was being arrested! After the mass closing a Corning Police officer, I believe it was Mike Schwartz, (Rest in peace, Mike) who proceeded to handcuff Father and lead him out to the police car. But not before it was announced that Father was being held in the make-shift jailhouse in the IHM parking lot and would not be released until bail was raised at $1,000. Of course, we all ran to IHM with our check-books open and the kids to Steubenville fed us a free lunch and raised over $2,500 in a brief period of time. Most of us didn't have cell phones back then, so we ran home to call our friends to tell them to come with their money. Now that's fundraising at its best. I am quite sure that over the years, other's were arrested and even Father Phil. This idea that we can't raise money is faulty. Mr and Mrs McCaig and their counterparts were always coming up with creative and effective ways to make a buck and have a laugh in the process. It can and needs to be done. There is fun in

  7. Do you really understand that we need to raise >$100,000 per year not just for this year but for the many years to come.
    Do you think the percentage of fund raising dropped from 6% to 1% for no reason? Do you have any idea why it dropped? Don’t try to blame this one on the administration!
    Do you know why St V. and St P. Bingo went away, not because it wasn't making money but because we could not get workers to run it.
    Do you know why the St. V. festival went away, not because it wasn't making money but because we could not get workers to run it.
    It is doable but you better be prepared for a long run and a lot of work.

  8. If you balance the budget, which means cutting staff (cue the howls) and doing away with 'wants' like the TV mass, among other things, you can balance your budget without an increase in collections.

    If you tear down SV, you are losing $20,000 a year in rental income--the only one of our parish properties that is currently revenue producing. That is, if you don't count our parish churches as bringing in income and only look at them as burdens.

    And yeah, keeping a parish spiritually and fiscally healthy is work. Is that surprising?

    If your goal is to get to one church, follow the parish leadership's plan, which keeps the parish in a deficit even when we reach the magic goal of one worship site, as well as for the next ten years (that's their own numbers we're using again).

  9. $100,000 per year. Well, Dean said at Dinner and Dialogue there were about 1400 families and I heard him at an earlier time say about 1300. regardless if there were 700 people who gave $143.00 extra per year over and above their collection envelope, the goal would be met. Of course there are some who cannot give but there are others who would give more than that amount. So much depends on what is received in return for the donation. That's just the way it is.

  10. Do you know how valuable the TV mass is for shut-ins? I think you will disenfranchise many people if you do might want to dig into this a bit more.
    Do you know what it costs to heat the buildings, keep insurance on the building, most likely well above the $20k.
    I understand it will take a lot of work, not sure you really understand this. I have done fund raising for years and it is not fun.
    You are right most likely will be in deficit spending but far less than 2 buildings….not out of the woods yet but a lot closer with 1 than 2.

  11. Television masses are available on other stations, as well. Do you have the numbers for how many actually watch the parish mass?

    Also, when you say 'disenfranchise' that typically means to disenfranchise from the vote, or from a right of some type. Is it really a right? The tv mass is something that is very nice for those who can no longer attend mass, but at the cost of destroying a Catholic Church? Really? It goes back to stewardship...

    But, as so many others have said, the parish as whole was not allowed to even know of the decision-making process, let alone being informed and asked for input. Don't you think we all could've been a part of the discernment process--just as we are discussing it now?

    As far as your last comment, "You are right most likely will be in deficit spending but far less than 2 buildings..." I cannot believe that, as a parish, we would or even could be content with that kind of prognosis. To say that a parish with 2,500 enrolled families and up to 1,450 regular attendees cannot even maintain one building is tantamount to admitting utter failure.

    I don't for a moment believe it. And neither should anyone else.

  12. I think the issue is NOT whether we can and or cannot fundraise to keep St. Vincents open. The question becomes is this the most prudent use of our financial resources? Keeping St. Vincents (a church we, statistically speaking, DO NOT NEED to house all the Catholics that come on a weekly basis) Continually having to pay for the IHM campus, the school, and all our other facilities are like an anchor weighing us down to do any type of growth ministry. I would rather see buildings sold, staff HIRED, and St. Mary's made into a practical, warm loving place for all of our parishoners than to keep our buildings in average condition just two have one or two masses in a week.

    St. Vincents offers no practical value to the parish other than a worship site, which again, is not needed given the context of the parish as a whole. If anything, I bet the school and IHM will be around for years and years and those sites at least offer us meeting spaces and potential for offices.

    If closing St. Vincents causes the community to be "ripped apart", how very sad. I would have hoped my fellow Corning catholics would have valued the community, and not a building. We are ONE parish, folks. Parishes that can fit into one church should only ever be one church. That's the whole reason we became one parish in the first place. A COMMUNITY THE SIZE OF ONE CHURCH CAN ONLY SUPPORT ONE CHURCH. It's very simple. You may argue that it is possible to support the two churches, but not without handicapping the church to handle ministry. Growth is easily accommodated at St. Mary's.

    When practically all collections are used to financially keep our heads above water, you know there is a problem. Its time to make the tough decisions and look 20 years down the road and not just one year.

  13. I have to agree. After looking at the very basic financial information given to us from parish leadership I think everyone would agree that a $592,000. annual payroll and 16 employees is way too much for this parish. Start right there; it really isnt necessary to have a business manager, a bookkeeper and a pastoral administrator and on and on. It seems to be pretty much common knowledge that this is the last year for ASA and right there is another $185,000. There are countless ways. Maybe its time for certain people to step aside and make room for some new ideas and new energy!

  14. 4:14 PM you said, "I have done fund raising for years and it is not fun."

    Could that be because the emphasis is on the "funds" being raised rather than the community building it can bring? You say that you couldn't get volunteers for Bingo and the parish festival...but, if parishioners knew that these fund-raisers had to happen or else we were going to lose a church (and another, and another) you have the FAITH that they would come through...and in the process end up slowly building our parish back to a vibrant community. There are so many things our parish should have tried BEFORE that letter was sent to Bishop Clark to sign...IF they truly wanted to keep St. Vincents.

    As for fund-raising being fun...I think that is mostly attitude...Attitude is everything!

    I will leave you with a thought..."Anything worth having isn't easily had." That goes for SVdP AND the parishioners that will leave IF it gets torn down.

  15. What is the plan for the Brennan Center in this whole scenario? Where are the priests going to stay in this plan. What properties on the block are in hopes of being purchased. What makes anyone thing the city will close off the street to make the complex exclusive? So many questions with very few answers.

  16. 4:38 said..."I bet the school and IHM will be around for years and years and those sites at least offer us meeting spaces and potential for offices."

    I can't speak on the school...and it would be wonderful if it was around for more years to come but, what about IHM?

    Isn't there a verbal offer on that? If not, that would leave us with 2 does that support your "A COMMUNITY THE SIZE OF ONE CHURCH CAN ONLY SUPPORT ONE CHURCH" thinking?

    Our community seems to have shrunk because we keep amputating our churches because we think of them only as "worship sites." There is so much more there than that...and yes, it does involve emotions, and passions, connections and feelings, but it is not limited to that.

  17. It is hardly prudent to drive the congregation away by razing churches. The parish staff has given up on fund raising, so must of necessity rely on collections (and bequests) to make it. How prudent is it to alienate the only revenue stream by destroying churches? To put it bluntly: It is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

  18. The staff has not given up on fund raising, just much more difficult than you think. I am assuming you have never run a fund raising team or never been a captain of a bingo team…I don’t think you understand the work that is required and I don’t think you understand how difficult it will be to get workers. Again it’s not just a one year requirement its forever. I look forward to the SOP forming the fund raising team to get this moving (once sanctioned by the Parish council). New blood is definitely required; it will be good to have your team involved in the Parish working to make it grow.

  19. Some of the parishioners here do have experience with fundraising. Not as difficult as you are saying. Do understand the work, have done it. It takes teamwork. There are a lot of motivated parishioners in our parish.

    When parishioners met with the Deacon and staff/council members on Sept. 29, we offered to form a fund raising committee.

    We were told that any future fund raising would be specifically for the one worship site. They have no interest in working with parishioners who are not in lock-step with them.

  20. Then get on board, we will not be able to make this parish the best possible parish with out everyone working together. If we can take all this anger and hatred and work together, wow what a great church we will have.

  21. Before we raze a beautiful Church, will you get on board to try to save it? Will you give us a chance to prove that we are willing to work with you on this? Will you give us a year? At the end of the year, if we have not proven that there is enough passion and enough finances to save Saint Vincents, I will take your hand and join you as we enter into the one Church of the All Saints Parish.

  22. No thanks. I don't have time to organize or participate in efforts to raise funds to save Saint Vincents. I am very happy to have one Church where we will not have to worry about fundraising to make ends meet. Some of us are busy trying to raise our families, take care of our parents, pay for college,,,who has time for raffles and bingo and bazaars? I prefer to write a check, put it in the basket and know that the bills will be paid.

  23. Really? I would certainly want to be anonymous if I felt that way, too.

  24. Everyone’s life is different; don’t chastise anyone until you have walked in their shoes for a period of time. This is why fund raising to close a budget gap is going to be very difficult. Much more work that you ever thought! Not a bad way to go for a year but several years that is going to be difficult!

  25. I would argue that fund-raising is inevitable, even with one church. St. Mary's needs major repairs (see slide 17: critical repairs+long-term improvements=over $1 million). The sales of St. Vincent's and IHM won't cover it. When/if the parish shrinks and wills are changed, there will be even less money.

    As others have stated, fund-raising can unite people and build up the parish. When people are passionate about their church, they make it happen. I have no doubt that we can raise money to keep St. Vincent's AND upgrade St. Mary's.

  26. 2:47pm Show me a Church, any denomination, that does not rely on fundraising efforts to stay afloat. ANY Church. Just one. Please.

  27. St. Mary's is a money pit. Try heating it for daily Mass. People don't want to be crammed into that chapel all the time. I'm sure the building next to it is full of asbestos and will be costly to tear down or renovate..whatever the plan is. When people love their leadership the money flows naturally with little of no persuasion. If Fr. Phil was at the helm this would not be happening. He's loved and genuine. Maybe if the winds of change hadn't stormed in, things would be going differently.

  28. Please put a solid plan together and present it to Parish council.

  29. So I guess balancing the budget, putting together a capital fundraising campaign and doing community building through events and activities that also bring in money is not a plan?

    Pray tell, what is a plan in your opinion?

  30. It's my bet that the office staff would not dare to meet, without their fearless leader, with SOP representatives, fearing retaliation. Right?

  31. I can't speculate on that. I do know that parish staff is not exactly enamored of us, to say the least.

  32. Gretchen, a plan is not just a group of ideas that are floated out there to "parish leadership" and then sitting back and waiting for someone else to do the work. As I have stated before a plan has objectives, timeframes, a charter, a team. check this site out: it may help you.

  33. Anonymous 7:01 -- One cannot get into detailed plans if the leadership will not approve. Leadership does not approve of parishioners doing leadership's job.

    Frankly, it is somewhat ridiculous to expect parishioners to do what leadership manifestly did not do! Please show me where the detailed plans are from leadership. Show me how they have (in detail with objectives, time frames, charters, and a team) proposed to save this parish?

    We can't even get a break out of costs from each site, let alone a detailed plan for why it is good and right to destroy SV. The only argument, and you can easily refute it, is that SM can seat more people!

    The one bar graph they do present has us in double the debt 10 years down the road with only one church and no funds for capital repairs! Is that a plan??

    What parishioners have done is to point out the lack of planning, the discrepancies, the mistakes, the poor stewardship and so on. And, like anyone who has ever had to make ends meet, pointed out that the budget needs to be balanced, that repairs need to be budgeted, and that you can build community and make money by family-centered events. These things must be authorized by leadership. They have chosen not to do so. Parishioners have no authority to force them to do the right thing.

    It is quite apparent that your dogged insistence on a detailed plan is really a design to try to embarrass and silence parishioners. I'm not feeling embarrassed, and I don't imagine most others are, either.

    I hope you decide to attack from some other angle, because this is getting boring and I don't think you'll win this argument.

  34. Well said Gretchen, I have never heard of a group of parishoners coming with a complete plan to any administration. I thought that is what we have a Parish Council, and subcomittees for. Secondly, with no ok from administration a plan should not be presented. No wonder SOP has to go to the Bishop and his staff to see if some kind of leadership and reasoning can be brought to the rollout plan. Who ever heard of saving a church that will cost circa $400,000 more than another well built church to just get it in working order.. There really is no overall plan. We the parishoners are getting piece meal plans for complete destruction of a Church and its community and a school which witnesses Catholic Education in this city while saving a Gothic structure that is cold, drafty, acuostically poor,costly,and inconvenient for so many especially the elderly and those,who are nearing the elderly ranks.I know because I go to St. Mary's and I do not like for one minute the shortsightedness of the planners. SOP seem more knowledgeable and more in tune with the people and with a business sense than those who are responsible for and presented the vague rollout paln..

  35. I wonder how many people really remember the St. Vincent’s Parish festivals. They have not happened for over 30 years. I had read the comments about the amount of work and the lack of volunteers and believe this is a total misrepresentation of the real situation. The Parish Festivals were not really about making money… but they did. It was actually a Parish activity that brought everyone in the Parish together. It was enjoyed by the elderly, the children, the parents and even the teenagers… It was just plain fun and we all enjoyed ourselves as a family. Volunteering was half the fun. We made and ate baked goods; we threw baseballs at milk bottles and into milk jugs to impress the girls; we ate some of the best food I have ever tasted and played some very enjoyable carnival games; the little kids threw a line into the fish tank and always got some wonderful little treasure. We spent money and enjoyed each other’s company. The priests were there and were one with us. They talked to us and knew each and every one of us. We were a family with a caring pastor and community. Mega churches will never have the sense of community, belonging and beauty that exists in the close knit parishes like St. Vincent’s. We were proud of who we were and could identify with our Parish and would gladly donate time energy and love to our little church. Things worth having are worthy of our sacrifice. We made the Church, we were a part of the Church, we cared and still care about that building and do not want t lose it or our Parish. The festival died because the focus of the administration changes and because they want to change the identity of our Parish and who we are and what we believe in. I know those hardworking and caring people are still there or their children are. They just need to be inspired and led to greatness. I know those flames are still there, they just need to be fueled and fanned by what we once were and what we can be again.