The faithful venerate the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the sanctuary after an annual Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the celebrant.
The archbishop also blessed the image, which was carried into the cathedral by members of the Grupo Guadalupano, an organization of Mexican Americans. (Photo by Aaron Joseph)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of religious women, though initially met with some resistance, ended up promoting a greater sense of unity in the church and helped the women become more aware of how God is working in their lives, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
"May the self-assessment and dialogue sparked by the apostolic visitation continue to bear abundant fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of religious institutes in fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to their founding charisms," said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, the prefect, at a Dec. 16 news conference at the Vatican.
BRISTOL – The Archdiocese of Hartford Office of Religious Education and Evangelization (OREE) presented its annual Faith and Evangelization Congress on Nov. 15 at St. Paul High School in Bristol. This year’s theme was titled “Making God Known: Sharing the Stories of Faith.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Preceded by a procession of flags from the nations of the Americas and the recitation of the rosary in Spanish, Pope Francis and thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vatican.
Shawnee Baldwin, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization, was honored with a regional leadership award Dec. 6 from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.
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.
NEW HAVEN – As many headed out to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, hundreds of area children received a free and much-needed gift as the Knights of Columbus distributed new winter coats to children in need at seven sites throughout Connecticut on “Black Friday,” Nov. 28.
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.