February 04, 2019
Those of you who have been following the Parishioners for Justice website may have seen the recent exchange of letters in the blog category. The letters inquire about some of the apparent irregularities in the management of the finances of the parish. The letters have led to two responses, one from the chair of the Finance Council of the parish and a second one from the Director of Finance of the Diocese. Although both response letters express indignation that questions would be raised in a written document, neither quantitatively addresses the issues raised. A letter subsequent to the last response raises very specific questions; but no response seems to be forthcoming.
There is one interesting development. Following the last letter sent to the Diocese pointing out inconsistencies up to $2000 weekly between the CFA numbers reported by the Diocese and those reported in the St. Isabel bulletin, the bulletin stopped reporting CFA numbers. Of course, if only one set of numbers is available, there will be no further discrepancies! Perhaps the timing is coincidental. The end of January marked the end of the CFA appeal year. The Diocese claims that the CFA assessment for each parish is set at 26% of the Offertory collection. For the new year that has just begun, the assessment for St. Isabel is stated as $148,000. This would be consistent with an annual Offertory collection of $569,230.77. The Offertory collection for 2017-2018 reported by the Finance Council of the parish this last November was $559,656.02. This translates to an expected CFA assessment of $145,510.56. It appears that the assessment for this coming year exceeds the appropriate amount by $2,489.44. Perhaps there is some other revenue stream that the Diocese also taxes. This should be clarified or the appeal goal should be adjusted downward.
More remarkable is the fact that the goal for the just concluded year was $192,000, the same as the preceding year. The reported Offertory collection issued by the parish for the 2016-2017 fiscal year was $609,443.49. At a tax rate of 26%, this translates to a CFA goal for the just completed year of $157,675.31. Thus, the CFA assessment that the parish was required to meet seems to have been excessive by $34,324.69.
Without any apparent effort on the part of the responsible parties to answer specific financial questions, one is left to wonder what the actual situation is. With the Orchid Ball upcoming where the Diocese is hoping to fatten its CFA coffers, it is surprising that no clarification is forthcoming. There are many fine charities, Catholic and otherwise, that do excellent work and provide transparent accounting. They are worthy of support.