Parish of St. Monica – An Assessment
An insert into this week’s parish bulletin provides an overview of parish financials for the first six months of the fiscal year. Details are posted on the parish website via a link on the home page. Some highlights:
A. The parish profit-and-loss statement shows that St. Monica continues to have a healthy financial status.
B. Income and expenses are within budget although a slight decrease in weekly “Sunday collections” has been noted. Thus the Finance Council continues to emphasize the importance of parishioners signing up for “electronic giving” which helps the finances of St. Monica especially during the summer months and during a winter such as this year when many parishioners aren’t physically in church and giving to the collections.
C. Given the recent history of the parish, it was the goal of the Finance Council to manage our assets to provide a financial reserve in case of any sudden, unforeseen and significant financial need (Examples: Plumbing or HVAC breakdown, severe roof damage, increased expenses due to severe winter weather). A general “rule-of-thumb” for non- profits is a reserve fund equal to 6-months of operational expenses. In addition, it was the hope to have $100K of “working capital” available at any one time to run the parish. These two goals were recently achieved by the parish. I wish to personally commend the Finance Council and thank the parishioners of St. Monica for achieving these critical and important financial goals!
In December, I held a series of “Town Hall” meetings to update the parish community on a number of items. These included the following:
* An overall pastoral assessment of the parish.
* Introduce the idea of the overall “formation” of the parish, the parish organizations and individual members.
* Provide an overview of the various parish organizations and programs as well as a general assessment of their status and plans for the immediate future.
* Propose a parish structure to align the Parish Staff and resources with the various parish organizations and programs.
* Provide a description of a plan moving forward to include immediate concrete tasks over the next 12 months.
After meeting and receiving general feedback from various organizations and parishioners, in January, I convened a meeting of the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, the Parish Building and Grounds Committee, the Parish Staff and a number of other parishioners who would provide input based on their professional skills. In addition, I invited a commercial real estate company to offer an assessment of the current market and help evaluate the parish resources. A professional moderator was also brought in to manage the session.
The goal was to solicit their input and advice and to arrive at concrete decisions to address the important issues raised at the ”Town Hall” meetings. Thus I wanted to report on the following items and actions:
A. After a 7-month job search and several interviews, it was decided to have Frank Pantano act as the new “Facilities Manager” for the parish. Several months ago, the Parish Staff and Building and Grounds Committee performed an evaluation of the building and grounds of the parish campus and drafted an in-depth, prioritized list of repair and replacement needs. Simultaneously, a detailed job description of the “Facilities Manager” position was crafted. This list has been examined and discussed by the Parish Staff, Building and Grounds Committee and Frank over the past two weeks. Frank had already been working on the most pressing issues (heating, roof leaks and boiler issues) and is currently developing a plan to tackle the other issues over the following months.
B. There has been much fruitful, exciting and hopeful discussion about the pastoral initiatives of the parish especially pertaining to the three “parish priorities” involving Liturgy, Adult Faith Formation and Outreach to the Youth. In addition there has been much interest in what St. Monica can do to reach out beyond the parish boundaries to support others in need. Finally we are examining ways to invite back our parish brothers and sisters who have been away from the parish.
C. To accomplish these hopes, dreams and goals, resources will be needed. These resources also need to be aligned and allocated according to the parish priorities. Thus there are two resource “tracks” that need to be examined and addressed: Immediate, ”mission critical” physical plant needs and longer-range plans to address the pastoral needs of the parish. In the “Town Hall” meetings I proposed looking at a 5-year window. Parish Leadership felt that the size and scope of such initiatives will require professional assistance to develop a multi-year plan, integrate and coordinate the various components, properly steward our resources and save money in the long run.
D. The Building and Grounds Committee developed a proposal outlining what the parish needs for this endeavor would be. A number of companies were contacted and RFPs provided. Several companies were initially interviewed followed by a second round of interviews. In the end, it was decided to employ the services of an “Owners Representative,” the Remington Group out of Wayne, PA to act as a project manager for this endeavor. The Finance Council approved an initial outlay for their services. Initial conversations will be with Frank Pantano and the Building Committee to do a more detailed, in-depth analysis of our facilities and make recommendation on priority items.
E. In addition, Remington will soon be meeting with several focus groups covering a wide range of parish interests to solicit pastoral needs, wants, hopes and dreams. Finally, the plan is for Remington to amalgamate all of this information into a comprehensive, 5-year plan, which will also offer St. Monica a number of suggestions, complete with cost projections and conceptual ideas to possibly address the future pastoral needs of the parish.
FAQs about “Owner’s Representatives” can be found here.
F. People have also inquired about St. Monica Parish in light of archdiocesan reorganization/restructuring and how this could impact any future plans of ours. To this end, later this month, we have arranged a personal meeting with Bishop John McIntyre and other members of the archdiocesan administration. Our goal is to provide transparency as to where the parish is and our plans moving forward; present the hopes and concerns of the parishioners; offer details of short-term, critical repairs as well as some ideas of other more long-term pastoral investments and finally, elicit any information and advice they might provide that could eventually have an impact on our parish as we plan ahead.
The Pastoral Outreach of the Parish of St. Monica needs to be a priority. Our parish has been quite generous in reaching out to others in need for many years. Unfortunately, as I outlined at the “Town Hall” meeting, we offer assistance to a broad number of people, families and organizations (close to 30). The real impact and effectiveness of our outreach efforts are unknown. Activities seem uncoordinated and disconnected from parish priorities. In addition we often provide financial assistance, but there seems to be little personal investment and very little attempt to develop personal relationships with the people and organizations we assist.
Organizing and improving our outreach efforts would require a significant investment of effort and hours and has proven difficult to “jump start” over the past several months. However, in an exciting development, Villanova University has offered the services of a “Non-Profit Consulting Practicum” team of MBA candidates. Their goal would be to develop a plan for a high quality, coordinated and sustainable “Parish Outreach Program” specifically tailored for St. Monica. The final plan helps fulfill the course requirements of the MBA students and comes at no cost to our parish. The team is made up of five MBA candidates with varied, professional backgrounds and they met last week with me and a group of parishioners interested in improving our parish outreach. Further details will be provided as this venture moves forward.