For the full unedited audio version, please listen to Fr. Chas’ homily on 9-21-2014.
This is the second in a series of bulletin articles addressing the diocesan parish audit. This week, I would like to give you a broad overview of the financial situation of the parish, highlighting those areas that are of great concern. As many of you know, the parish has a considerable debt. At the end of this past fiscal year, June 30, the outstanding amount owed to the diocese was $615,041. As your new pastor, I am committed to a high standard of fiscal responsibility. The parish living on borrowed money has crippled our ability to move forward in various areas that would enhance and grow our parish. Thus, the bleeding will stop this year; we will not spend money we do not have.
The Good News!
The good news is that this parish audit, further discussions with the diocese, and a gracious offer have given us a path to be debt free by the end of this fiscal year! Sound impossible? Well, it will require a great deal of sacrifice, but it can be done! One major reason it will be possible is because one of St. John’s former pastors, the late Fr. Francis Murray, is still looking out after us from above.
Upon Fr. Murray’s passing away, he bequeathed a generous amount to three different parish entities: 1) $420,000 to the general fund of St. John the Evangelist Parish, 2) an amount yet to be determined to our parish’s Heritage Fund, and 3) an amount yet to be determined to the St. John School Endowment Fund. The reason why the exact amount for the Heritage and Endowment funds have yet to be determined is because the funds of his estate have yet to be officially settled. It is realistic, however, to expect about $300,000 for each fund. His bequest has confirmed even beyond his earthly life the great love he has for God’s people at St. John.
Fr. Murray’s parting gift of $420,000 has positioned us to clear away much of our debt. $300,000 of that amount goes directly to repaying the debt, leaving us around $120,000 to continue making our regular payments of $10,000 per month. Subtracting this parting gift from the total debt of $615,041 leaves us with about $200,000 left ($195,041 to be exact).
This is where the graciousness of the diocese comes into play. If the parish pays $100,000 of that remaining amount by the end of this calendar year, December 31, 2014, the diocese will forgive the other half ($100,000), as an incentive to invest in the growth of our parish through new evangelization initiatives.
Therein lies our challenge! We have a little over three months to raise $100,000, and the diocese will match that amount. $100,000 is too much to lose, so should we not make that amount, we will have to make the necessary cuts to achieve that objective. Thus, I urge you to invest in the life of our parish! Let us thank Fr. Francis Murray for being a great instrument of God’s divine providence by now doing our part to be proper stewards of our priceless parish, the “mother church of Jackson!” You can do this in three ways:
- Please make a pledge to what I am calling the “Thank You, Fr. Murray!” fund, the goal of which is the remaining $100,000 for our parish to be debt-free! As Fr. Francis’ present successor, I will make the first donation to that fund of $1,000. Now we only need 99 more!
- Please increase your weekly offertory pledge. These are difficult times not only for each household, but also for the parish as a whole. Since the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1, we already have a shortfall of $16,906 to stay on budget, which means we are running short of our weekly Sunday amount by about $1500 per week.
- Please sign up for our online giving. This allows you to be more intentional about what you invest into the parish and will reduce the amount of work for our counters. Click on the “Parishioners” tab on our parish website.
Poised for the Future!
As your new pastor, I am very excited about the direction of our parish. I hope you feel the same. Great things are ahead, and we will have great reason to celebrate at the end of this year when we will be poised for the future…thanks to Fr. Francis’ generosity and now yours!