Friday, February 6, 2009

CMA Update

An article appeared Wednesday on describing some of the creative measures taken by various pastors in an attempt to reach their parishes' Catholic Ministries Appeal assessments.

This reminded me that I hadn't posted a CMA update in a couple of months (previous posts related to the 2008-09 CMA are here, here, here, here, here, and here) so I gathered up all the data I'd been grabbing every week or so from the Parish-by-Parish page on and began to plot some graphs.

A look at the groups

The first graph is a comparison of the group of Monroe County parishes that lost their schools with the group that did not, with data for the diocese as a whole included for reference. (It should be noted that the former group does not include Holy Family Parish as it is now closed, while the latter group omits Peace of Christ Parish as it is conducting a combined CMA/building drive and is not reporting CMA results separately.)

The data shows all three groups nearing something of a plateau, with the "Kept Schools" group outpacing the "Lost Schools" group by some 16.7% of CMA assessment. Were the latter group contributing at the same rate as the former its total pledges would be some $128,200 higher than they actually are.

Individual Parishes

Of those parishes that kept their schools all but two are currently ahead of the DOR average. Our Mother of Sorrows, having raised some $17,354 more than its assessment, is clearly outshining the rest. (I wonder how Fr. Bradshaw is pulling that off.)

Almost the opposite is true of the parishes that lost their schools, with only three at or above the diocesan average.

It is obvious that CMA lacks the appeal it once held at these 12 parishes, almost certainly due to resentment at the way the 2008 school closings were handled by the diocese and Bishop Clark's ongoing refusal to address the dozens of legitimate questions that still remain.

I do hope, however, that those of us who now refuse to donate to the CMA are at least giving their parishes what they otherwise would have given the CMA. Right now those 12 parishes are more than $143,000 short of their combined assessments and, were the CMA drive to end today, the bishop would just take that amount out of their Sunday collections. Without the buffer of extra donations to the parishes in lieu of CMA pledges, such a confiscation would wreak havoc with a lot of parish budgets, something that none of us want to see.


gretchen said...

Fr. Bradshaw got down to brass tacks with the parishioners at MOS and told us that if we don't come up with the CMA money, the bishop will just take it from the collection. It's pay now or pay later... (He's a very eloquent speaker, but when it came to CMA, he was pretty blunt!)

Mike said...


Some of the other pastors are just as blunt but don't get the same results.

Perhaps it's the British accent?

Anyway, Fr. Alex can ease off now. MOS is already 20% over it assessment.

gretchen said...

Fr. Alex is very passionate about his church (and The Church) and his passion is contagious. The British accent certainly doesn't hurt, either!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
Good post!

I have another tip for you

Anonymous said...


This site seems to link to a lot of anti-EWTN, anti-SSPX, pro-NCR articles...?

~Dr. K

Mike said...


One of my Google Alerts is "catholic schools" and that phrase generates frequent hits on

From what I've seen they focus on linking to Internet articles related to Catholic education, usually in Canada (hence the ".ca") but occasionally in the U.S. I cannot remember them flagging an article that other sources didn't also pick up on.

Was there something specific on that website you wanted me to look at?

Nerina said...

Hi Mike,

What bothers me so much about this annual "appeal," is that it wreaks havoc on the local church's budget. I don't give to the CMA for many reasons, but I am very torn over giving to my church to make up the difference. I don't want my church punished, but sometimes it does things that make it difficult to support it. I can't get into details, but I wonder how well my weekly support is being used sometimes. Plus, those parishioners who give to the CMA simply lower their donations to the church. They pick one or the other, but they often don't pick both. We may meet our CMA goal, but the deficit will grow in weekly collections. It is a very frustrating situation.

You know, if Bishop Clark was taking the money and actually serving "the least among us" instead of wasting it on questionable catechesis and poor formation programs I might have more enthusiasm for the appeal.

Mike said...


You're not alone. I've heard similar things from many people. The average DOR parish seems to leave much to be desired. Fortunately (for me) Holy Cross, while not perfect, goes in for far fewer of the "innovations" that other parishes are experiencing.

I have been tracking my parish's weekly collections this past year and I can't say I've seen the same thing as you have. There was a drop off over the summer followed by a spurt in the early fall and then a slight decline around the time the CMA got rolling. This, however, is also the time the snow birds start heading south, so was the drop off due to competition from the CMA or to parishioners sitting out the winter in Florida? It's hard to say but I suspect a bit of both.