January 08, 2005

Diocese cuts its fiscal losses

Telegram & Gazette

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette Staff


The Diocese of Worcester ended the 2004 fiscal year with a loss of $271,300.

Although the diocese finished in the red, the losses were significantly less than the previous year, when the diocese had a loss of nearly $800,000.

Bishop Robert J. McManus, in releasing the financial report, said most services operated within their budgets, “and I offer my thanks to our diocesan directors for their commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

“Numbers, however, cannot relate the impact we have had through our various agencies and ministries upon the tens of thousands of people we serve throughout our diocese and Central Massachusetts,” the bishop said.

The diocese received income from parishioners through what is called the cathedraticum for a total of nearly $2 million. The insurance program yielded $729,595, and investments brought in $640,120. Bequests to the diocese brought $127,725 in income.

The report, also to be available online at www.worcesterdiocese.org and printed in yesterday’s edition of The Catholic Free Press, was issued after a complete audit by O’Connor Maloney & Co. P.C. of Worcester. The fiscal year ended Aug. 31.

The largest losses came from the St. John Cemetery system, which continued to invest in capital improvements at many former parish cemeteries that joined the system in the past few years. The cemetery deficit was nearly half of the previous year’s deficit. The cemetery system ended up $377,528 in the red this past year.

The Catholic school system took in $15.7 million in revenue and ended the year with a surplus of $111,529. This included income of nearly $13 million from tuition, $1.7 million from fund-raising, $658,275 from the bookstore, $158,550 in parish assessments, and $118,345 in other income.

The Diocesan Expansion Fund, which functions like a bank, ended the year with a surplus of $154,512. The fund received $1.9 million in investment income and another $1.8 million in interest on loans it made. The fund paid out $3.2 million in interest on its savings accounts, spent $237,986 on loan forgiveness, and administration of the fund cost $196,300.

The Priests Retirement Fund also operated at a loss of $289,862 because of costs involved in assisted living and medical services for older priests being cared for in rectories. The diocese managed to cut the loss from the $577,288 deficit the previous year.

The retirement fund received $519,000 from the Bishop’s Fund, $939,004 in parish assessments, $268,755 in investment income, and $246,071 in donations. It cost the diocese $148,000 to maintain priests at the Vianney House for retired priests, which is operated by the diocese, and it cost more than $1.4 million to support retired priests. The diocese paid out another $660,633 for priests in nursing homes or assisted living care.

Diocesan central administration took in more than $3.4 million, but expenses also exceeded its budget, and it finished with a loss of $41,754.

The diocese continued to pay for services related to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. A number of the pending civil lawsuits related to alleged incidents of sexual abuse were settled in the past year. Several are still pending, and six new suits were recently filed. The diocese said it paid out $131,875 for all legal services it incurred during 2004. The Office of Healing and Prevention received a total of $170,845.

A total of $82,100 was paid out in therapeutic assistance. The fiscal affairs office operated with a budget of $386,999. Interest on debts was $624,540.

The Priests’ Financial Assistance Fund, which retired Bishop Daniel P. Reilly testified in a deposition is where priests can be paid when they are removed from ministry because of misconduct allegations, was set at $349,457. The diocese has said, however, that not all this money goes for removed priests, but it also goes for priests on leave for medical reasons.

The financial report also shows that the diocese created a “bad debt” reserve of $115,000 and had a “loan receivable write-off” entry totaling $210,000.

Also in central administration, the bishop’s office spent $209,047. The bishop’s residence cost $107,066. Donations and memberships cost $233,813. The Moderator of the Curia cost $120,479. The Tribunal, the church court, cost $249,696 to operate. The chancellor’s office spent $74,928. The Vicar for Priests was budgeted at $19,121, and the Vicar for Religious had a $50,471 budget.

The Bishop’s Fund took in more than $3.8 million and spent it all on the programs that the fund supports. The Catholic Free Press, the diocesan newspaper, took in $821,475 in revenue, but expenses exceeded that amount and the paper ended with a loss of $25,240. The communications office spent about $124,000.

Posted by kshaw at January 8, 2005 08:58 AM