IFRC Letter #1 to Pastors

November 25, 2008


Dear Father/Monsignor:

We would like to update you on an important initiative underway across the Archdiocese of Boston, which we hope will improve the financial relationship between our Parishes and the Archdiocesan Central Ministries located at the Pastoral Center. Cardinal Sean has authorized this work, and the Improved Financial Relationship Committee (IFRC) has been established. The Cardinal has asked both of us to co-chair this committee.

The IFRC was formed to advance earlier work and dialogue that was done under the umbrella of ‘evaluating/improving the model of how parishes support the RCAB.’ You will recall, from November 2007, Scot Landry’s survey requesting your input on a ‘Common Practice Model.’ This model, utilized in many other dioceses, was perceived to be a more simple/fair/transparent alternative to our current mix of The Catholic Appeal, school & other taxes, special collections and fees. Based on survey input and regional meeting follow-up in early 2008, and given the importance of this financial relationship to the broader pastoral mission of the Church, the IFRC was formed to lead further study and consultation and recommend a course of action to the Cardinal.

The October 3rd edition of The Pilot announced the formation of the IFRC and we have been ‘up and running’ for about a month. The purpose of this letter is to share some additional detail on our work, advise you of what is ahead, and to communicate our commitment to keeping you regularly informed of our progress.

The attachment to this letter presents the IFRC mission, our ‘vision of success’ and key goals. We are now focused on finalizing our strategy and action plan, which will include the following critical components:

  • Gathering/analyzing additional benchmark data from other dioceses and other data as needed
  • Conducting a collaborative and consultative process to request input and ideas from all stakeholders to an improved process and formula
  • Modeling impacts of various formula options on both individual Parish and the Central Ministries income
  • Developing the recommendation, transition and implementation plan
  • Preparing and delivering a robust and comprehensive communication plan

In completing all of this work, the IFRC will be guided by the following questions/considerations:

1.  How can the Archdiocese help parishes in challenging financial circumstances in conjunction with an improved model?

a.  Data is being gathered on each parish’s financial health and on its parish support to the central ministries of the Archdiocese. This data, at a high level, will be shared at vicariate consultations.

b.  Goal of a new model of financial relationship is to be revenue neutral in year 1, in terms of the sum of total parish support to the central ministries of the Archdiocese. Depending how individual parishes compare to the average fair share of all parishes, individual parishes may see increases or decreases in the amount of support requested. Any hope for increases in total parish support in future years would be tied to increases in total parish revenue.

2.  What pastoral and administrative work, in support of the Church’s mission, is included under the umbrella of “parish financial support of the central ministries of Archdiocese”?

a.  Define scope of initiative & what needs to be funded

b.  What is the near-term, 3-5 year projected need?

3.  What is the on-going process by which goals (Parish & Central Ministries) will be set?

a.  How will goals be communicated, performance measured, shortfalls addressed, and adjustments made as necessary?

b.  What are the various roles/responsibilities of Parishes, Vicariates, Regions, Central Ministries and the Archdiocese in this process?

c.  What principles/measures are required to enhance accountability and fairness, and build a more collaborative and supportive environment that recognizes our mutual interdependencies and common goals?

4. How should Parish goals/assessments be calculated?

a.  Which revenue streams should ‘count’ towards goal achievement?

b.  Should there be an abatement or goal-adjustment process? If so, how should this work?

5.  How should we transition to this new process and financial support model?

a.  What will be the timing?

b.  What will be the communication plan to parishioners, all stakeholders?

c.  How will potential risk be mitigated/managed, especially given today’s challenging financial circumstances?

d.  How will we evaluate the implementation to assess effectiveness and efficiency, and make mid-course corrections as warranted/indicated?

Throughout the course of this initiative, we intend to communicate with you on a regular basis, to both update you on progress and address any concerns. At a minimum, we will send you a letter/report every two months – followed up by a Conference call to get your immediate feedback. The IFRC fully recognizes that the success of this initiative is dependent upon on-going and meaningful 2-way communications between both the parishes and the committee. Also, at any time and for any reason, please feel free to contact any member of the IFRC.

As to next steps, we will be requesting additional input from you in the next week. Questions specific to this ‘improved financial relationship’ initiative will be included as part of the Catholic Appeal 2008 feedback survey, which you will be receiving shortly. Please carefully consider these questions and give us your feedback. In last year’s survey, we received 109 responses – about a 35% response rate. We’d like to do much better this time around. Please note that we will be sharing all of this input/feedback with you as soon as we have consolidated it. Secondly, please share this information with other priests who may be assigned with you in your parish and with parish staff and finance/pastoral council members, as you deem appropriate.

Thank you for your support of this important initiative. Collectively, we have a unique opportunity to both improve the old model of financial support within the Archdiocese and transform the way we all work together to strengthen the Church of Boston and even more fully realize Her pastoral mission.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Bryan Parrish, VF

Representing the South Region

Steve Barrett

Representing The Catholic Foundation Board

On behalf of our fellow IFRC Members:

  • Very Rev. Richard W. Fitzgerald, VF, Pastor, St. Paul, Wellesley, Representing the West Region
  • Rev. Msgr. Paul V. Garrity, VF, Pastor, Saint Mary, Lynn, Representing the North Region
  • Rev. Msgr. Francis H. Kelley, VF, Pastor, Sacred Heart, Roslindale, Representing the Central Region
  • Very Rev. Paul Ritt, VF, Pastor, Saint John, Chelmsford, Representing the Merrimack Region
  • Mr. Paul Sandman, Esquire, Representing the Archdiocesan Finance Council
  • Mr. Herb Lynch, Esquire, Representing the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council
  • Mr. James P. McDonough, Chancellor, Representing RCAB Central Services
  • Very Rev. Thomas S. Foley, Episcopal Vicar for Parish Life & Leadership, Representing RCAB Central Svcs.
  • Mr. Scot Landry, Secretary for Institutional Advancement, Representing RCAB Central Services
  • Brother James Peterson, OFM, Assistant to the Mod. of the Curia – Canonical Affairs, RCAB Central Svcs.
  • Denise McKinnon-Biernat, Director of Parish Financial Services, Representing RCAB Central Services

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