VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Like many Catholic parishes, the Vatican has turned to a raffle to raise money; the difference is, though, the prizes are items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.
WEST SIMSBURY – A parishioner walks up to her pastor and says, “I want to give you my kidney.”
Pastor smiles and says, “Okay.”
Don’t expect a punch line. It’s no joke.
Father Michael G. Whyte arrived at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in 2007 and has been pastor there since 2008. A type 1 diabetic, he began experiencing extreme tiredness and nausea at about that time, signs of kidney failure due to the diabetes. Doctors gave him three choices: go on dialysis and live five or six more years; do nothing and die within six months; or get a kidney transplant and – if it’s from a live donor – live 20 to 25 years.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be taken up in parishes nationwide on Nov. 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Echoing the teaching of Pope Francis, the collection focuses on the theme: “CCHD: Working on the Margins.”
“In the United States, many Americans continue to face the effects of a stagnant economy, debilitating unemployment, a dehumanizing cycle of poverty, and growing civic disenfranchisement,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Up above the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, Saint Peter's Church shines as the beacon to the Holy Land from the old port city of Jaffa. Peter's vision of the clean and unclean took place here at the house of Simon the tanner. Jaffa (Joppa in biblical times) was also the departure port for the prophet Jonah's encounter with the whale.Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer, a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Hartford and a regular contributor to The Catholic Transcript, visited Israel Nov. 4-11 and shared the sites through these photographs. The Israel Ministry of Tourism and El Al Israel Airlines arranged the “Catholic Highlights of Israel” tour primarily for writers, editors and photographers for Catholic media. The photos marked "Photo of the Day" are available for download for free. They will be highlighted periodically.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The world's bishops are called to be servants and shepherds who use their position to care for people and the faith, not to seek power and boost their pride, Pope Francis said.
The church has no place for men with a "worldly mentality" who are seeking a career, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Nov. 5.
"It's sad when you see a man who seeks this office and who does so much to get there and when he makes it, he doesn't serve, but struts like a peacock, living only for his own vanity," the pope said.
BRANFORD – St. Mary School’s seventh and eighth graders are learning science and math from Albertus Magnus College faculty now as part of a new partnership.
The partnership is designed to improve the St. Mary students’ competitiveness in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study. The school’s STEM program aims to provide students with a dynamic, engaging series of educational experiences based on an innovative, in-depth and hands-on approach to science.
More than 80 people wanted to know the answers to these and other questions during a discussion Oct. 25 at St. Mary Parish Center, led by certified public accountant Matthew A. Byrne, fiscal coordinator for external affairs for the Archdiocese of Hartford. The discussion was part of a series on financial transparency and accountability in the Catholic Church, sponsored by the Farmington Valley affiliate of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF).
Finances in every diocese are governed by a Code of Canon Law, Mr. Byrne explained. This code calls for the establishment of a finance council for each diocese. The council’s duties include preparing a diocesan budget, examining the annual report and offering counsel to the bishop on fiscally related items.
Finances at the parish level are governed by the pastor, with guidance from the diocese, Mr. Byrne said.
“The Archbishop is responsible for the Archdiocese. The [pastor] is responsible for the parish,” he said.
As detailed in a book called The Temporal Goods of the Church, which interprets the Code, Mr. Byrne explained, “The goods do not belong to any individual, but are administered by the pastor.” These administrative duties are in addition to the pastor’s roles as preacher and sanctifier, and include managing a budget; keeping up property; paying salaries, insurance and debts; making investments; and doing assessments. A pastor’s role as fiscal administrator often prompts him to recruit lay people to help.
A few other points Mr. Byrne covered included:
Q. What happens when a parish closes or merges with another?
A. The assets revert to the Archbishop, who decides how best to distribute them.
Q. Why do parishes usually become linked rather than merge into a single parish?
A. Merged parishes may present future liability problems because of the properties they administer.
Q. What pitfalls does a parish face when accepting a bequest of real property?
A. The new owner or administrator of real property assumes all liabilities attached to that property.
Differences in accounting methods at the parish level have made it difficult for parish reports to be consolidated at the diocesan level. As a result, Mr. Byrne spearheaded a drive to standardize parish accounting and data management methods.
“Some pastors manage two or three linked parishes,” Mr. Byrne said. “Why have two or three different accounting systems?”
A new, standardized, front-end system was first tested in six parishes and includes a data-base of parishioners, school tuition, payroll and bar-coded offertory envelopes. “We feel this is the future for parishes,” Mr. Byrne said. “We have this in about 25 parishes now.”
The research for the new system was funded by the Archdiocese. A parish’s up-front cost to convert to the system is about $2,500 plus equipment, if needed.
During the discussion period, a parishioner asked about retirement funding for priests. Mr. Byrne said the pension “is almost 100 percent fully funded” in a separate trust. Administrators meet twice a year to set funding for contributions. “It is in very good shape,” Mr. Byrne said.
Asked about the availability of a publicly disclosed summary of fiscal accountability at the archdiocesan level, Mr. Byrne said, “That day will come. We’re not there yet.” An independent audit is conducted annually, however, he said.
The second in the two-part discussion series on financial transparency and accountability in the Catholic Church featured Jack McCarthy, a retired partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Mr. McCarthy chaired the effort to produce the financial transparency report by the Archdiocese of Boston. He discussed the challenges of communicating the complex issues in that report in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis and parish closings.