First of all I would like to congratulate the young men and women from our parish who were confirmed by Bishop Thomas last week! During our confirmation retreat last Saturday, I had the chance to ask the students questions, and I was impressed with their ability to name the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. My prayers and the prayers of the whole parish are with you young men and women who made this step to be confirmed. God has a plan for each one of you, and following His plan is sure to be an adventure. The parish is proud of you and inspired by you!
Next, thanks are due to all those people who put so much work into the Divine Mercy Confirmation Mass: our own staff and deacons, the sacristans, decorators, musicians and cantors, the FIAT committee, everybody who prepared for the reception after Mass. I would also like to thank those who helped prepare and serve dinner at the rectory with the Bishop, his emcee and the deacons and their wives. The Bishop truly enjoyed his time with us, and he was happy with our liturgy. I was very proud of the experience the Bishop had of all of you. I cannot reiterate all of the positive comments the Bishop made, but trust me that his experience of our parish was a very positive one.
On March 17 we had another finance council meeting. Here are some highlights:
-We went over the balance sheet, profit and loss report, and the payables report, as usual.
-We looked at the state of some of our repair projects. I already stated in an earlier bulletin letter that we would be moving ahead with the Antwerp bell tower moisture repair. We are still $16,000 short of the total needed, but the Bishop gave us permission to move forward, understanding we would be raising some more money. As of the writing of this letter, I see that our architect, the Martin-Riley company in Fort Wayne, has sent bid invitations to several companies. Denny O’Donnell has hosted a couple of on-site visits for us from companies interested in the project.
-Now that the organ has been removed in the loft at Antwerp, new risers and flooring have been added. At the time of the finance meeting, I was estimating about $500 materials, but that was just an estimate, not entirely well-informed…. but hopefully ball-park. Then we are looking at the possibility of $2,700 for new chairs up in the loft, so that we don’t have to keep carrying chairs from the loft down to the hall and back again when we have events. More research is being done on what type of chairs to purchase. There might be a chair design that has a front kneeler that folds down. I am so grateful for those who are working on this project, and saving the parish so much money by their generous donation of labor!
-We are also looking at the possibility of replacing the garage roof at Antwerp. That has been on our “to-do list” for quite some time. We are estimating about $3,600 for this.
-At Paulding we have received an anonymous donation that will cover the repair needed for water damage under the Windows on the narthex side of the nave of the church (about a $3,000 repair). You can see how the wall covering is puffed out under a couple of the windows. We received a bid to clean out the gutters, which were clogged and led to some of that damage estimated at $$1,000. We also asked Lee Construction to give us a price for putting screening over the gutters, so that they will not clog again, otherwise I am afraid we will have to go up every year and clean the gutters, at a cost of about a thousand dollars each time. The total on the gutter cleanout and screening is $9,500.
-Then at Paulding we still have to contact somebody to repair the flooring up in the organ loft, where we took out the huge air handlers last year. Then we have to build some shelving and perhaps a little more seating to make things neat and efficient for all the musicians and cantors serving Mass up there. We had a generous donation of $500 for this work. But I think it may take a bit more.
-You read already in a previous bulletin that the auction of Payne rectory items brought in $4,200 that can be applied towards the $9,500 cost of razing the rectory. Dan Gordon is doing that job for us. As of the writing of this letter, we are still finalizing the disconnect of some of the utilities. This job should be done within a couple weeks. Then I will be looking for a committee to help us plan what to do with that space where the rectory was. Initially I am thinking about 2-3 parking spots for clergy, which would make our parking experience much more positive over there. It’s a bit tight sometimes in front of the Morton building. And then it was brought to my attention at pastoral council that a group of people are suggesting some type of Marian grotto. I am very open to this idea (which would also have to receive diocesan permission).
-Many of these were updates on projects everybody already knows about. But there was one primary item of new business. That was talk about our plans to use FACTS much more fully in the coming year, not only to determine need for families asking for tuition assistance, but also to manage tuition notification and payments. There are many benefits to doing this, and the cost is quite low. In the long run, I am confident we will save money, and the handling of all kinds of tuition matters will become more efficient.
-We also explained how we will be reporting our tuition costs much more transparently in the future. For years now we have said to people that tuition per child is just over a thousand dollars (… An increase from year-to-year, of course, I am speaking very generally here.). But the truth of the matter is that for years it has cost us about $4,150 to educate each student. When families apply to the state for tuition assistance (Ed Choice grants), they have always claimed their tuition price at about $1,295. We have learned through various channels that if we acknowledge our actual cost ($4,150) as the tuition, we could get much more help from Ed Choice. I personally discussed this move with two other pastors with schools that have made these change years ago. It makes a lot of sense for us to do this as well. We will still offer parish assistance to each student, as we have been doing for years actually, and so the price each family has to pay per student really will not be jumping up any more than the usual yearly increase, but we will be accounting for our parish help per student as the aide that it is, rather than continuing to claim tuition at $1,295. I think this move will significantly reduce the parish subsidy of the school, which is absolutely essential in this day and age when we are looking to cut costs. We will soon have a mandatory meeting with the whole Divine Mercy School community to explain all of this in great detail.
So there are the highlights from our most recent finance council meeting. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,