So the 'State of the Parish' address was all good. Last year's description from leadership regarding our parish finances was quite different: 'bankrupt', financial catastrophe, finances 'unacceptable' and so on. I mean the words used were positively chilling and fear-inducing--almost like it was on purpose.
But, Hallelujah, we have had a complete turnaround! Indeed, the projection for the 2010-2011 year is a mere $30,000 deficit, as opposed to the $134,000 deficit for 2009-2010. This is kinda crazy, but if the parish would just balance the budget each year, there would be no deficit. I know, that's asking too much.
But, since things are sooooo good now financially speaking, then why shouldn't we keep our churches? Why is Immaculate Heart of Mary still for sale? A matter of it being prime commercial real estate and not prime religious real estate, perhaps. The priests and parishioners who built IHM had different priorities.
Why is St. Vincent's still on the chopping block? Oh that's right, three Catholic churches in an area of over 5,000 Catholics is too many. Who wants to maintain all that expensive and troublesome real estate? I mean, a temporary priest shortage is surely justification to eradicate those pesky tabernacles. Except it's not.
But, we are not alone in the struggle to protect and preserve our churches. It's a comfort, albeit a cold comfort, to know that others in the DOR are suffering too. A snapshot here about the issues surrounding the Irondequoit churches. One of the comments in that Cleansing Fire post stood out to me:
Interstate Catholic – Yes, Fr. Tanck’s tent is a foreshadowing of his vision of the future. He and the IPPG discussed at their meetings the desire to have one mega-church in Irondequoit.
So very familiar. To hear that our finances are suddenly sound, but the sale of two of three remaining churches will go forward, says to me that it was never about lack of money, or priest shortages, but it was always about a 'vision'.