In the upcoming parish bulletin, Deacon Dean writes about our parish situation--its ministries, finances, and facilities. While he lauds an upswing in giving, he is careful to warn parishioners, too. He writes, "The strategy of our parish’s Facilities Council has been to hold off on improvements as much as possible until we can see the full results of the commitment people made last year. We’ll use this year’s surplus for next year’s improvements."
He also writes, "Some major changes have occurred since last year’s Stewardship of Treasure Appeal. Providence Housing has dropped its offer to purchase the St. Vincent Church campus and the likelihood of its sale is remote. Currently we have no one interested in purchasing Immaculate Heart of Mary Church which has been up for sale for many years. Consequently, we
must continue to maintain these buildings to assure that they do not fall into disrepair. This will add to our financial challenges."
And he further states, "Some of our staffing costs will significantly increase this year. We will have the blessing of two fulltime priests, thus a larger staff and an additional salary on the payroll."
First, I would like to address the Facilities Council strategy of holding off repairs. At the August/September 2010 rollout meetings, parishioners were informed that repairs had been deferred for so long on our church facilities that literally millions of dollars would be needed to repair them. Current leadership has been at the helm since 2006. We are now headed into Spring 2012. How long we will continue to defer repairs? How long before a reasonable and coherent plan for repairs and maintenance is promulgated? If the budget, as is, is not enough to cover needed repairs, then a plan must be put in place as quickly as possible.
To put it bluntly, the strategy of relying on future giving is exactly what leadership has condemned in the past when it was decided the parish could no longer rely on future bequests to budget!
Second, to mention that a future of sale of St. Vincent's is a "remote" likelihood means that if a "remote" offer would happen to come along, it would be accepted. So that tells us St. Vincent's is still on the chopping block, even though, according to Deacon Dean's article, "...we must continue to maintain these buildings to assure that they do not fall into disrepair."
Third, is the fact that Immaculate Heart of Mary continues to have a Big.Fat.For.Sale sign propped up in front of the church--a church in which our priests reside, and which continues to have masses and be used for numerous activities and events. So, even though no one is "currently" interested in buying it, the Big Fat For Sale sign maintains its ugly presence. Do the right thing. Take down that sign! Include the parishioners in making plans to repair and maintain our churches and facilities, and start a capital campaign.
And for good measure, read all about how the Vatican has just reversed the closure of 13 parishes in Cleveland, Ohio. As one parishioner there says, "Rome is saying to this bishop and to all the bishops: 'You can't close churches just because you don't have the money or the staff.' Budgetary constraints can't be used to suppress parishes."
More on this most recent decision from Rome here and here, too. And one more for good measure.