Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Our Lady of Mercy is not financially viable."

A few days ago I reported on some information that had come my way from several sources.  The subject was a report issued by the finance sub-committee of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte PPNM Steering Committee.

Much more detail has now been published.

From the Holy Cross Church bulletin ...

Pastoral Planning Update June 2009

The Eastern Greece/Charlotte Steering Committee has been working together since the Spring of 2008 to create a new pastoral plan for our six parishes, Holy Cross, Holy Name of Jesus, Our Mother of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Charles Borromeo, and St. John the Evangelist. This process has been undertaken at the request of Bishop Matthew Clark. The Steering Committee is made up of four representatives from each parish. There are currently three sub-committees, Ministry and Worship, Finance, and a Pastors committee.

Finance Sub-Committee Report

On May 26, 2009 the finance sub-committee provided its report to the full Steering Committee. It must be remembered that the recommendations of the sub-committees are simply that...they are recommendations. The full Steering Committee will have to choose what portion of the reports from each of the sub-committees will be adopted, and in what form, and to what extent, if any, they will be so adopted.

Once the Steering Committee has prepared a revised five year plan, meetings will be held with parish pastoral councils and staff for their input to the plan. A revised draft will then be prepared, parish “town meetings” will be held, and parish pastoral councils will meet to make any final revisions to the plan, so that the six parish pastoral councils can affirm the plan and submit it to Bishop Matthew Clark.

The Finance Sub-Committee of the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Steering Committee in its report to the Steering Committee recommended the closing of Holy Name of Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy. Some of the factors considered by the Finance Committee are as follows:

  • Bringing more parishioners together in fewer parishes would result in more robust remaining parishes.
  • Overall weekend Mass attendance for the six parish EG/C planning group has decreased 36% (decrease of 3,015 from 8,313 to 5,298) over the past ten years.
  • Demographics are not favorable for any meaningful growth in numbers of parishioners in the EG/C parishes.
  • From a financial perspective the number of parishes should be reduced from 6 to 4.
  • Because the number of priests available for assignment in our parishes and within the diocese as a whole will continue to decline in the short-term future, we should not try to maintain any more parishes than necessary.
  • The closing of Our Lady of Mercy & Holy Name of Jesus would have the least impact within the EG/C planning group. They represent 12.2% of average weekend liturgy attendance, 13% of annual sacraments, and 8% of religious education children.
  • These closings could eliminate over $500,000 of expenses, and these resources could be redeployed and better utilized at other parishes.
  • There is more than adequate space and programs at the other four parishes to absorb all of the parishioners from Our Lady of Mercy and Holy Name of Jesus.
  • Clustering parishes does not seem to be justifiable from a financial standpoint. Priests and staff could be better utilized at other parishes to serve the needs of all of the people in fewer buildings.
  • Our Lady of Mercy is not financially viable.
  • While Holy Name of Jesus is currently financially viable, with average Mass attendance of 372 parishioners (7% of the total EG/C Mass attendance), the continued use of limited priest resources is not justified.
  • Continuing to use financial resources to maintain and repair excess buildings is not justified. There are more than sufficient buildings at the other four EG/C parishes.

What’s Next?

As a result of the recommendations of the finance sub-committee, the Steering Committee has scheduled an additional meeting on June 16, 2009 for further review of the report. It is the intent of the Steering Committee to adopt a proposed configuration of parishes within the planning group at the regularly scheduled June 30, 2009 meeting.

The Steering Committee feels very strongly that action must be taken no later than the June 30 meeting to adopt a proposed configuration of parishes so that other aspects of the plan may go forward. Until such a decision is made, it is impossible to do any real planning for the group. It must also be remembered that the plan will still be subject to review by the parish pastoral councils and eventually by Bishop Clark.


Interstate Catholic said...

Just read the HNOJ bulletin online.
Looks like they are going to fight for their church.

God bless them!

Anonymous said...
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Mike said...

Dr. K.,

"Bringing more parishioners together in fewer parishes would result in more robust remaining parishes."

This is merely a variation on the bishop's usual pie-in-the-sky line, the one he uses when suggesting parishes cut back on their number of weekend liturgies:

"While a change in Mass times is difficult for people, you may find that with fewer Masses each weekend, there could potentially be even more vibrant liturgies with fuller participation by the congregation."

AFAIK, it's never worked for a parish. I see no reason why it would work for a planning group.

Interstate Catholic said...

I would settle for reverent liturgies rather than vibrant ones.