Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—October 16, 2005
If ya wanna get along with me.
Before proceeding, let it be said that any information concerning the parish’s finances is welcome. For far too long a shroud of secrecy has covered everything to do with the Pastor’s stewardship of our resources. Despite this newly minted candor, there are still some questions that are raised by the Fiscal Report presented to the parish a few Sundays ago:
1. What exactly is meant by the revenue category “Other Collections?” If this category represents the standard “second collection” money, then why aren’t there categories under expenses that reflect the parish’s having passed the money along (Hope Medical Clinic, Casa Amparo, etc.)?
It would be dishonest to call such money parish income, and then not report that it was spent outside the parish. Such a practice would tend to paint a rosier picture of the financial health of the parish (to the tune of almost $67,000) than would otherwise be true. If it isn’t second collection money, then what is it? The amount is substantial (over $1270 per week, on the average).
2. It appears that the tax or “cathedraticum” which the parish owes to the Diocese is not listed anywhere. Since June 2003 we have not paid this money. The “Diocesan Assessment” that is referred to may be associated with that obligation, but the numbers do not match up, since the cathedraticum rate is in excess of 10% of the Sunday collections, which in our case would be greater than $75,000 for fiscal 2005.
3. With a building loan balance of approximately $35,000 and a Building Fund balance of approximately $56,000, why wasn’t the loan paid off, saving us some interest?
4. According to the provided Fiscal Report, we had $753 in the bank at the end of June. With expenses exceeding income by well over $1000 per week, how have we avoided bouncing checks in the months since June 30th of this year?
Now, some comments:
1. The numbers presented are alarming in what they say about the parish’s financial condition. Prior to June 2003 our finances were extremely sound. Since that time we have managed to create an obligation of almost $48,000 to the diocese (over and above the cathedraticum obligation, which probably exceeds $100,000 for the period), run an operating deficit in fiscal 2004 of over $115,000, and run an operating deficit of at least $63,000 (if not $130,000 if the “other collections” dispersal has been misrepresented) in fiscal 2005.
2. Each week we have been told in our bulletin that the “weekly budget” is $14,500 (which translates to a yearly budget of $754,000). Why is it then that the expenses were in excess of $900,000 for the year? A manager of a commercial enterprise who went almost 20% over budget and kept it secret from the owners would be fired for incompetence and possibly pursued criminally for the failure to disclose the situation.
3. In the letter to the Pastor from 273 parishioners, this financial crisis was pointed out and the secrecy surrounding the financial affairs of the parish was also questioned. The Pastor dismissed these as of no concern to him, but simply part of an “agenda of a few.” What fatuous nonsense! Our financially stable parish has been mismanaged into a disaster, while the Pastor fiddles around with minutiae and his petty campaign to discredit the heart and soul of Holy Spirit, circa June 2003. Shades of Nero!
4. Undoubtedly, the Parish Staff will be attacked as a drain on our finances and a dramatic reduction of the staff will be touted as a solution to our money problems. Wouldn’t it be better to look at profligate spending? For example, the addition to the staff of a Deacon (at $32,000 per year, plus benefits) which we never needed in the past, the hundreds of Masses that the parish has paid to be celebrated when the Pastor was either out of town or chose to “rest” (more such Masses in eighteen months than in the entire ten year term of our previous Pastor), the expenditures on showy liturgical items (flowers, vestments, chalices, etc.) which have been supported by special donations but represent resources of the parish community put to things previously regarded as inappropriate, delays in purchasing decisions that have resulted in increased costs, and so on.
5. The Pastor has failed to use the parish resources that are being paid for by staff salaries with his almost total mismanagement of the staff. He does not allow them to do their work, and so makes the parish operation inefficient and increasingly ineffective. He is wasting a large percentage of the $260,000 that is being spent on Parish Administration by his inability to manage the work of others.
Eye of the Beholder
One man’s house is another man’s garage
One man’s oasis is another man’s mirage
from “Tell Me What Know” by Butch Hancock
In recent weeks there have been three letters in The Monitor expressing effusive support for our Pastor—their saccharine tone makes Harriet Miers’ notes to George W. Bush look like hard-edged criticism. These letters encouraged us to “thank God we have a priest who is performing his pastoral duties,” and to consider ourselves privileged to experience his “compassion, humility, and dedication.”
Performance of duties, compassion, humility, and dedication must be, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. Many look at the current state of affairs in the parish and see a shabby garage and others, apparently, see a beautiful house.
Those who lavish praise on the Pastor never respond to the substance of the raised criticisms but instead hurl invective at the critics calling them “anti-Catholics,” and “heretics.” It must be that their vision of a beautiful house includes a financial mess (see above), mismanagement of the simplest aspects of running a parish, a “dedication” characterized by numerous absences from parish liturgies and a virtual disappearance from the parish offices during the week (time to celebrate Mass at the Shrine multiple times per week, but no time to be at the office), and a “compassion and humility” that drives the Pastor to carry out a vendetta against parishioners who dare to raise the question that maybe we need a little more Gospel witness and a little less vacuous piety.
If people want a vaporous mirage of Christianity rather than an oasis with substance and nourishment for the desert pilgrim life, then that is their choice. But those who think differently have no choice but to point out that the current state of the parish’s administration falls far short of not only the spirit of what we have come to expect, but even our expectation of simple competence.
Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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