Sunday, October 5, 2008

Holy Cross' CMA assessment raised more than 9%

On the heels of closing its K-8 elementary school last June, Bishop Matthew Clark has rubbed a little salt into still-open wounds at Holy Cross Parish by raising its 2008-09 Catholic Ministries Appeal "goal" some $6,000, or 9.2%.

("Goal" is the DOR euphemism for the amount of money a parish is required to raise. Parishes not reaching their "goal" have the difference taken out of their Sunday collections. I therefore prefer "assessment," as it is a much more honest description of what is actually taking place.)

According to this week's bulletin the parish had $70,492 in pledges last year, but only $65,500 of that amount was actually collected by the diocese. Still, Holy Cross managed to exceed its 2007-08 assessment by about $500 due largely, I'm sure, to the fact that most of that money had been collected prior to the bishop's announcement that he was closing Holy Cross School and his subsequent refusal to allow Holy Cross to operate its school independently of the MCCS bureaucracy and the DOR treasury.

Holy Cross Pastor Fr. Tom Wheeland preached an eloquent homily this morning on the subject of stewardship, part of which focused on the need to support the diocesan appeal. It now remains to be seen just how many deaf ears his words may have fallen upon.


HCmom said...

What a joke!

Fr. Wheeland is a living saint to put up with this. I predicted last year after the school closings that this year's CMA "goal" would be higher for Holy Cross this year, and I was right. The Bishop killed our school, now our CYO program is struggling, and he wants to increase our diocesan "tax" just to add insult to injury. And he told the parishes that still have schools that they are 100% responsible for any capital repairs/improvements, leaving many of them with huge deficits.

What exactly are the "ministries" we are supposed to support---new lighting for the Cathedral parking lot??? Maybe a string section to go with the $1 million organ??? How about another initiative to promote Catholic/Muslim relations??? You know, the stuff that's more important than reaching out to children in our own church.

Charity begins at home, Bishop Clark! You cut my children loose, and now I'm cutting your CMA loose.

Anonymous said...

The more churches that are closed, the more others will have to make up the difference. What perfect church to choose to make up this difference than one who has suffered so much recently with the loss of their school, and one that has come forward with a plan to keep it open that made local media coverage and made the Bishop look like a bad guy.

"Take that for publicly challenging me" - unofficial, imagined quote of Bishop Clark towards Holy Cross parish.

~Dr. K

Mike said...


The bishop's incompetence extends well beyond his handling of Catholic schools. His overall tenure has been nothing short of an utter disaster for the diocese as a whole.

He has essentially no vocations to the priesthood. Most of his active priests are either close to retirement or already there. Some of his well-liked priests are simply bailing out of the priesthood, leaving him even more short-handed. His flock is leaving him at the rate of 3.5% a year and has been doing so for at least the last 7 years. And, of course, his management of the schools has been utterly incompetent, to put it politely.

If he were the CEO of any publicly traded corporation, he would have been out on his butt years ago. But it looks like we're stuck with him until 2012, barring a miracle from Rome.

Mike said...

Dr. K. wrote, "The more churches that are closed, the more others will have to make up the difference."

I suspect this has something to do with the increase in Holy Cross' assessment. But 9%??!!

I think HCMom may be on to something. Perhaps it wasn't the bishop personally, but someone at Buffalo Rd. seems to have decided that Holy Cross needed to be taught a lesson.

It will be interesting to see how much assessments at other parishes have risen, once the data is posted on Right now there's just a blank page.

HCmom said...

I received my CMA mailing today, and wondered about other parishes' "goals" also, but was disappointed to see the blank page on that part of the website. So instead, I looked at the breakout of how much of the CMA appeal is allocated to each "ministry." Aside from many disparate ministries lumped into single categories, I was astounded that only 5% of the $5,390,000 CMA goal, or $269,500, will go to Catholic schools, which is less than the amount allotted (6%, or $323,400) for the CMA expenses (e.g. printing, postage, etc). The schools are clearly a low priority for our Church.

Mike said...


Sunny has noticed something similar. See here.

HTfamily said...

Holy Trinity is dealing with a similar insult- a closed school and a increased tax. Recently, our finance man announced that we fell $10,000 short of our CMA "goal" last year. Yet this year our CMA "goal" is $10,000 higher than last year's goal (not last year's actual collection). If we couldn't reach our goal last year, why would we be able to surpass it this year while financially supporting an empty school building? Our family's money will go to the parish. As a school parent, I find it insulting that such a small amount of money from the CMA goes to the schools.

Mike said...

HTFamily wrote, "this year our CMA "goal" is $10,000 higher than last year's goal."

Holy Trinity's 2007-08 assessment was $78,102, so an additional $10,000 for 2008-09 represents a 12.8% increase.

It looks like you folks at Holy Trinity got slapped around a bit more than we did at Holy Cross.

RochChaCha said...

It is rather disappointing that the DOR is increasing it's goal on the parishes. Where does the Bishop think this money is going to come from. Take a look at the bulletins from the many parishes that were impacted from school closing this year. They are asking us to look beyond the suffering that many are dealing with due to the loss of their parish school and increase their contribution so that other ministries do not suffer.

It is going to be interesting to see how close to the goal the CMA come to this year. Many at my parish have already taken a firm stance that the CMA and the Bishop are not receiving one penny this year. I for one am not giving a penny either. Is it hard for me to not give this year, yes, especially since the parish will only have to make up the 'gap to goal' anyway, but it may be the only way to send a message.

Even if the CMA falls short of it's goals, it will likely shuffle some funds around and make it appear as though they had another smashing success this year. One may be able to fool the media, but not the parishioners.

I will still be making financial contributions this year, however, they will be directly to the charities of my choice. It will be interesting to see if there is any correlation between the parish assessments and the parishes that lost their school and/or complained about it in public.

Mike said...

RochChaCha wrote, "Many at my parish have already taken a firm stance that the CMA and the Bishop are not receiving one penny this year. I for one am not giving a penny either. Is it hard for me to not give this year, yes, especially since the parish will only have to make up the 'gap to goal' anyway, but it may be the only way to send a message.

The CMA won't be getting a penny from me either. It's not so much out of anger - although I've still got plenty of that - but out of conscience.

Matthew Clark and his cronies at Buffalo Rd. have consistently demonstrated so much incompetence in their management of our Catholic schools over the years that I now have serious concerns around their ability to properly manage any funds I might give them. Giving my treasure to such a crew of proven bunglers just might be a sinful act.

I will, however, be making an extra contribution to my parish. If the bishop wants to confiscate it, then that will be between him and God.

Nerina said...

Mike and all,

I agree completely with the many excellent points made in this thread. Like many of you, I will not give directly to the CMA. I MIGHT give a little more to our local church, but it really irks me that our money is so poorly managed. And like Mike says, there is so much deceit associated with this campaign it makes my blood boil. I know for a fact that most parishioners don't understand how it works. The only reason I know is because of being on parish council.

So while our church is facing a $12,000 deficit thus far, our "goal" has been raised 12% from last year. We did not have a school closure (we don't have a school), but I wonder where they think the money will come from. Our collections are woefully inadequate for keeping up with basic parish costs let alone for meeting this goal. Usually if people give to CMA, they withhold that amount from weekly collections so we don't make up ground anyway.

What a mess! Bishop Clark will receive my blank pledge card with a letter explaining my concerns.

And how many of us got to watch the CMA video on Respect Life Sunday to the exclusion of even a MENTION of the life issues.

RochChaCha said...

The following is from the Oct 5 bulletin from Good Shepperd.

'Secondly, we are receiving in the mail our annual Diocesan Catholic Ministries
Appeal that outlines clearly our responsibility to the wider church ministries. We appealed for a lower goal
and were approved, so our goal for this year is $76,575. This still means a stretch for each of us. Bishop
Clark acknowledges that these are tough economic times and there are uneasy feelings about recent
closings--but asks us to do the best we can as CHURCH TOGETHER. And you know that our parish budget
must meet the goal if ALL parishioners do not contribute to help.'

Look at the entire message from Nancy where she talks about the parish running a deficit for the past 10 years and if they do not meet the goal this year, they will still need to make up the difference. Yes, the Bishop gave in to their request for a lower goal, but they are running deficits and are still faced with having to make up the difference. Is this what the DOR is really all about?

Mike said...

RochChaCha wrote, "Is this what the DOR is really all about?"

It's not what ANY diocese should be about, but it seems to be just one more effect of the poor leadership with which we've been plagued for far too many years.

Some place last winter - I suspect in a comment to one of the D&C school closing stories - I remember writing that it was my sense that the diocese was headed for an implosion in the not too distant future.

When one takes a look at the big picture over the last 10 or so years every important metric - such as the number of active priests, our ordination rate (essentially zero), the number of open parishes, the number of open schools, and the number of Catholics who are practicing their faith by attending weekend Mass - every one of those metrics is down substantially. Frankly, I don't see how we can go on like this for much longer without some kind of serious crisis.

Yes, there are still a few reasonably strong parishes that will probably weather the storm, but others are soon going to be in bad shape, if they are not already, and Good Shepperd seems to be one of them.

I read the full bulletin article and two things caught my eye. First, as you wrote, GS managed to get their 2008-09 CMA assessment lowered by $1,262 from last year's value. That's a decrease of 1.6%, while Holy Cross and Holy Trinity have seen their assessments rise 9.2 and 12.8%, respectively.

Elsewhere in the bulletin GS lists 12 staff positions, presumably all paid, but doesn't mention secretarial or maintenance staff. Holy Cross' bulletin lists 11 and they also have 3 unlisted secretarial and maintenance people. Holy Trinity lists 14, including secretaries and maintenance staff. All 3 parishes seem to be running similar sized operations so I have to wonder why the bishop cut them some slack at not the other two.

Second, Nancy wrote that one of their problems was "the school closing due to not enough people sending their children, which increases our building costs." Well ... yeah ... that certainly was the immediate cause, but to put the blame solely on parents as she did is to totally ignore years of MCCS mismanagement which resulted in tuition levels so high that many families simply could not afford it. I'll bet she's catching a little flack from some of her parishioners for her choice of words here.

Anonymous said...

Rochacha... I don't know if you go to Good Shepherd or not, but if you do: has Nancy read the gospel at a Mass yet like she did at Resurrection? Has she put two bowl in the back of the church where each person moves a Communion wafer from one bowl to the other with tongs?

I haven't had the chance yet to see what damage she's doing to her most recent church, so I'm curious what's happened this early into her tenure.

~Dr. K

RochChaCha said...

Dr. K,

No, I do not go to Good Shepperd but I did attend a first communion service about 2 years ago when she was at Resurrection in Fairport. She homilized about how in life there is 'ideals' and 'reality' and she used 'valuing life' and 'capital punishment' to contrast ideals vs. reality. Not only did I want to walk out of the church, (two years ago I would consider it, today I would not hesitate), I was thinking to myself, why not use abortion in your example in which thousands occur each year rather than the lame example of NYS capital punishment in which if one criminal gets the death penalty in a decade here, it would be a stretch.

She's totally abusing Church law and the Bishop seems quite ok with it. If he is letting such blatant abuses occur at St.Anne/Lourdes, then a lesser abuse by Nancy wouldn't even show up on the Bishop's radar.

As I mentioned in some of my previous posts, the only thing to do is pray, and while I am thinking about it, perhaps continue to write to Rome.