On Thursday, January 28, we had another finance council meeting. The following are some of the main points:
-We reviewed the balance sheet, the profit and loss statement, as well as the payables report. Also, a couple council members quickly summarized their internal audit for the month.
-We have finished the charter for the vocations endowment fund, started with money from Doris Phlipot. Both the Diocese and Doris’s family are content with the language in the charter. We determined the make-up of a small vocations endowment board. Next step is to meet with a couple financial experts (parishioners) to determine exactly how we want to use the Catholic Foundation instrument of the Diocese for this money, i.e., how to spread the money over investments of varying risk. Then we have only to invest the money with the Diocese accordingly.
-We received a $10,000 grant from the diocesan August Schaefer Liturgical Endowment Fund to help us eventually purchase some new hymnals. The Endowment Board and Diocesan liturgical representatives thought the project was worthy. This would save us almost $6,000 a year that we now spend on missalettes. And the hymnals should be good for at least a quarter of a century! But there is a process of my speaking with musicians, getting their feedback, getting the congregation familiar with the proposed hymnal, educating the congregation about the Vatican vision for music, etc., etc. Such a thing does not happen overnight. The money is earmarked, until we are ready to use it.
-After speaking with both the pastoral and finance councils in past meetings, and speaking with individuals and groups for some time now, it seems there is quite a lot of interest in a new parish directory. I have in mind a few people, representatives from each campus, that I would like to approach to spearhead the project. If families jump on board to purchase family portraits in conjunction with the new directory, it ends up costing the parish little-to-nothing.
-Rainell Koenn received a $2,500 grant from the Monsanto Foundation, which she has designated for Divine Mercy School. We are so grateful for the generosity! The money has not yet been earmarked for a specific purpose.
-At the school, we passed our state fire inspection, with very little that has to be brought up to code. Still, there is a recommendation to put in some type of alarm system that would notify us off-campus of a fire in the middle of the night. We received one quote for $17,000, but perhaps it will not be necessary to spend so much, since the Fire Marshall said we were in compliance. Is there a less expensive way to achieve an off-campus notification system? We are studying that question.
-Also at the school, we are going to use a company called FACTS to manage all of our tuition. I suggested FACTS when I came to the parish. Many Diocesan parishes use it. We have been using FACTS only to verify financial need for those families asking for assistance with tuition. For a nominal fee, we can ask FACTS to handle all of the tuition, and this will save us much work in the office. We will make the fee part of our tuition expense. Sometimes we end up spending a disproportionate amount of office time on individual financial cases. FACTS will greatly reduce this time. I also think that a third-party organization could add some objectivity to the whole process. Because we are the Church, sometimes imagined as a financial charity organization, it can be more-difficult-than-normal to collect tuition that is due in justice.
-As of the writing of this letter, we have collected $48,088.50 towards repairing the moisture problem at our Antwerp campus. This is $18,412 short of the total cost. I am very impressed with the generosity of so many people giving to this project. Although we have to stop publicly fund-raising for this project, because of the Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal [but we can still take donations!!], I think we have raised enough funds to move forward. The finance council agreed with my idea of asking the Diocese for permission to give our architect, Martin-Riley, the go-ahead for assembling bids for the various components of the project. So we will ask the Diocese for permission, promising eventually to raise half of the money still outstanding, i.e., about $10,000. This way, we will only dip into the savings about $8,000 for the sake of this project. (Although we would love to raise the total $18,000 still needed.) I think that is very reasonable for such a large repair on one campus.
-For only hundreds of dollars, because the labor was entirely and generously donated, the boys’ sacristy at our Antwerp campus has been beautifully renovated. I am so grateful for this work!
-The organ loft at Antwerp still has to be repaired: putting in some risers and some new flooring where the organ was removed. This will be only some hundreds of dollars in materials, I think. Then we should purchase some chairs for the loft, rather than having to carry chairs back and forth between the loft and the hall every time there is an event. The chairs would cost close to $2,700. I do not think that will be a quick purchase.
-We also need a new garage roof in Antwerp (about $3,500), and we need to reorganize about one third of the garage, putting in shelving to accommodate greater storage. I am estimating about a few hundred dollars for this storage room renovation.
-I recently had more people tell me about how bad the sound at Antwerp is, if you sit directly under the choir loft. It feels “dead”. We are looking at the cost of a couple small speakers for underneath the loft.
-At Paulding we purchased two new walking microphones for the priest and deacon. We also purchased a new mixer and a couple of microphones for the choir loft. Thanks again to the anonymous donor who underwrote these items! Somebody asked me about the possibility of speakers in the basement that would serve anybody who has to be down there during Mass, i.e., people trying to calm crying babies. That led me to discover there were already speakers downstairs, but that they are burnt out. So we are getting a couple new speakers, using the wiring already in place, and also adding a switch to allow the speakers to be turned off for Children’s Liturgy of the Word. [If too many people go down there during the homily, claiming to be listening to it, I will know something is up!] If anybody wants to underwrite these speakers, please let me know!
-We received an anonymous donation of $2,900 to repair the buckling (water damage) under three of our windows in the nave at Paulding. We expect it will be some left over, and this will go towards cleaning out the eaves troughs as well. But at the same time we clean the eaves troughs, we want to put up leaf guards/screens, so that we do not have to spend so much money each year for the cleaning. We are researching the best type of guards to use. The generous donation will not cover all of the eves’ trough cleaning and repair.
-We received (renewed) permission from the Diocese to take down the rectory at Payne. You remember that permission was received for this project even under my predecessor. To date, the rectory has been emptied of pretty much everything. Larry Gorrell is organizing all of the rectory content for an auction on February 27. I am very grateful to Roseanne Glass, her son, and a small team of parishioners who put in many, many hours of volunteer time on this project. We learned there is asbestos in the crawlspace that will cost $3,300 to remove, and removal is required. Next we are trying to figure out exactly what has to be done to disconnect the water and electricity and gas, making sure to leave water, electricity, and gas connected for other connected, such as the Morton building, the hall and the church.
-It seems the sound system at Payne has been adequately repaired by purchasing two new walking microphones, with their transmitter, and then a new mixer. Thanks again to the anonymous donor for this!
-At Payne, we still have to address the problem of a very damaged parking lot. It does not make sense just to seal it. There are definitely major sections that have to be cut out at least a bit, with new asphalt filled in and a new sealer over all of it. From the $100,000 gift that was given under my predecessor, we still have $6,381 set aside for the parking lot repair at Payne. But I am sure from our initial investigation that the repair will cost much more. More numbers to come.
-We think all the bats have moved now to another home. The exterminator assured us that they would survive quite nicely. A “bleach bomb” type of treatment was applied to the attic space, and now we should think about how to clean up many, many years of bat droppings. (Anyone looking for volunteer work that will provide a straight ticket to heaven?) Witnesses who were present when the bats first started leaving counted at least 155 of them!
On another note, I stopped by the Special Olympics organized by the Knights of Columbus, their wives and other parishioners last Saturday. I was very proud to see parishioners living out the Catholic idea of outreach to the community in this way. Precisely because of the Faith, Catholics can be expected to step up in extraordinary ways to serve society. It’s what our Lord wants. [I also saw many players who could trounce me on a basketball court!]
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,