Response to More Questions About Parish Merging
In the last couple weeks before Christmas I received a few more good questions. One parishioner, indicating that they were not necessarily for or against a merger, asked a number of statistical questions about our parishes, the responses to which I thought would be good for us to know:
Q. What is the number of registered parishioners in each parish?
A. HE 373; AU 842; BL 471
Q. What is the average number of persons attending weekend Mass at each church?
A. These Mass attendance averages come from the annual Mass attendance counts that the diocese requires to be taken every October: HE 125; AU 195; BL 126
Q. What are the number of parishioners contributing $100+ fifteen years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, and this past year:
A. HE AU BL
2001 148 260 155
2006 135 234 126
2011 138 202 125
2016 116 204 116
N.B. – Our parishes completed an increased offertory program in late 2014.
Financial Status of Parishes
Q. What is the current financial status of each parish (yearly income, expenses, current debts)?
A. This question is difficult to answer. I would recommend looking at the 2015-2016 Annual Reports available at the back of each church. Each parish has a different budget format and lists things differently. One thing I would like to work toward in this merger discussion process is greater uniformity in how we report our finances so we can compare apples to apples. There are no debts in any parish.
Q. In a merger, what funds would be pooled and what expenses would be shared?
A. In a merged parish, we would just have one offertory envelop. Regular revenue would go into one general fund. At the time of a merger, each parish would contribute a predetermined amount to the new parish’s general fund. The finance and administration leadership committee (made up of representation from each parish) will be responsible for establishing a budget for the merged parish, as well as budgets for the maintenance of each church campus.
Q. What are the major projects and improvements projected for each parish for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years? How will they be funded?
A. There are many projects with varying degrees of urgency. A few of the largest include: (AU) re-blacktopping the remainder of the parking lot in about 5 years, possibly fixing up the interior of the convent building to serve as a central office for all three parishes or the merged parish (still idea stage), replacing the lighting in the church sanctuary; (BL) completing the stained-glass window restoration project, dismantling the rectory, replacing the church sound system, repainting some or all of the church interior, as well as some other possible interior updates; (HE) just completed the most urgent exterior brick repair work on church, replacing flooring where carpet comes up during the summer months.
While our finance councils are aware of these and many other smaller maintenance needs, they have not yet developed a concrete plan for addressing them. In many respects, these projects are bigger, more numerous, and more time consuming than each separate council has been able to address in a solidly proactive way. An over-arching plan for stewardship and a capital campaign(s) would be needed. With a merged parish, I would like to propose a single finance council with subcommittees that deal solely with buildings and grounds maintenance issues, as well as stewardship and capital campaign issues for all of our campuses. Realistically, I don’t see many of these projects being addressed proactively with our current arrangement. Each individual parish finance council does not have an abundance of time to deal with them after keeping up with the budget, book reviews, and various projects when they become urgent.