The following is the first in a series of reports issued by the Finance Council in late summer 2014.  These reports explain our parish's financial situation and call on all parishioners to work together to keep St. Francis strong.  God has great plans for us, but our co-operation is required.  Links to the remaining reports are provided below this first report.

The future of St. Francis de Sales:  Thrive or Just Survive?  Grow or Contract?

A Call to Action from the Parish Finance Council, July 2014

The parish of St. Francis is a vibrant Catholic faith community, striving to live out the Gospel both as individuals and as a community.  Some years ago, our parish set out on a path to become a stewardship parish, a community whose gifts are intentional, sacrificial, and proportional to one’s blessings.  Many parishioners have embraced the practice of stewardship, and many have given generously to our Growing our Faith Capital Stewardship Campaign, launched late in 2012.  That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news.  Financial contributions to our parish are not keeping up with our needs. Regular updates in the parish bulletin show that we consistently fall short of our financial stewardship goals.   Offertory and CSA contributions have fallen short for several years now, requiring us to use reserves to support programming.  In fact, our annual offertory has been declining, though parish membership is increasing.  Our capital campaign has been a huge blessing, but pledges are only about 74% of our target.  So, some of the projects to be funded by this campaign may have to be canceled.

The Finance Council has been watching these trends with concern.  However, we understand that some families were hurt badly by the recession.  Also, we expected more relief from the payoff of our mortgages.  And, frankly, we’re not good at asking for more money—especially shortly after a capital campaign. 

Parish leadership has been working hard to make do with the resources entrusted to the parish.  For example, for fiscal year (FY) 2015, both our pastoral associate and our outreach director will be working only half time at St. Francis.  Nonetheless, the Finance Council projects a cash-flow deficit of $98,000 for FY 2015, assuming offertory is the same as FY 2014.  That’s 8% of our budgeted spending and 11% of offertory.  At this rate, our reserves will completely run out in a few years, so we must turn the situation around.  If contributions do not increase significantly, we will be forced to reduce our services and ministries.

What kind of a parish do we want?  One that is just surviving?  One whose services and ministries are contracting?  Our parish leadership believes that God is calling us to thrive as a faith community, to grow in our discipleship.  So, let us see our current challenges as an opportunity to mature in faith and stewardship.

The Finance Council has written a series of reports to help parishioners understand our situation and the choices we face.  Please take time to read these reports, to consider your own stewardship commitments in light of our needs, and to pray that our parish is able to remain strong.

Report 1 Introduction (similar to above, but in bullet-point form)

Report 2 Overview of financial needs of St. Francis

Report 3 Relief from mortgage payoffs

Report 4 Catholic Services Appeal shortfalls

Report 5 Capital Stewardship Campaign

Report 6 Living as a frugal, vibrant parish

Report 7 Stewardship: a foundation for a healthy parish