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Pastoral Council hears upbeat financial report at March meeting

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arch-logo-COLOR--finalThe Archdiocesan Pastoral Council continued to discuss revision of its bylaws and membership parameters at its regular meeting March 5 at the Bartlett Center on the campus of the Athenaeum of Ohio.

However, the commission first heard an upbeat report on the archdiocese’s finances from its own oversight committee and members of the central office financial department. Commission member Ron Kienzle, who headed the oversight committee, said the finances were in excellent shape, “because the archbishop doesn’t spend money he doesn’t have.”

Kienzle said the health of the archdiocese shows that the parishes are for the most part healthy financially and that the archdiocese’s self-funded insurance plan yields stable investment revenue. He added that the priests retirement plan was 65 percent funded, which had gotten it out of the “red,” and that he could foresee that it would be 80 percent funded and in the green in a very few years. “I have no worries about it.”

There was some discussion about the continued need for the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal, even though the One Faith, One Hope, One Love foundation drive has been very successful, besting its $130 million goal. “The CMA is maintenance, the foundation funds are for growth,” Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr told the group.

Finance Department Director, Richard Kelly, said that it was accurate to say that the financial picture was stable and added, “the quality of our assets has improved dramatically.”

Controller, Tom Twilling, said there was a need for improved software to manage the archdiocesan finances and he said they were moving in that direction.

Archbishop Schnurr said credit goes to the generosity of the families in the archdiocese. “Cincinnati is the 8th largest in ordinary collections of the 195 U.S. dioceses,” he said.  There are many with larger populations that do not do as well.

“I believe it’s the Midwest. The faith is strong in the Midwest and we see that in the support we get from our people.” He said. “It is reason for great encouragement.”

In a side discussion about the health care plan, which is classified as a “Cadillac plan” under the Affordable Care Act, Kelly said the archdiocese would be facing significant fines. But if the plan were to change in benefit levels, deductibles or employee contributions, the archdiocese would lose its grandfathered status and have to provide birth control coverage for its participants.

“They’ve got us in a pickle there,” he said.

The ongoing discussion of the purpose and operation of the commission was discussed briefly which lead to the appointment of a committee tasked with examining the proposed changes to the By-laws and bring recommendations to the next commission meeting for a vote. The committee includes members Carl Peirolo, Annie Egan, Michael Hall, Robert Gerth and Michael Suffern.

Among the 11 provisions to be discussed was the method of forming an agenda for each meeting and the inclusion of Hispanic and more young adult representation. There was concern that adding members to the commission would dilute its ability to function, but Archbishop Schnurr said there was no reason a single member could not represent a variety of categories. (Deans appoint members to the commission as recommended to them by pastors in the given deanery.) Saying that he wouldn’t want “to lose geographical representation” on the commission, the archbishop said, “We’re missing out on the contributions of young Catholics in this archdiocese.”

“Are we integrating young people into the life of the parish?” He said that while there were many programs for young people but the day-to-day parish life did not often include younger members. “We’re not doing it well here or in the parishes.”

In other action, the commission discussed expansion of the faith formation segment of its meeting.

This report first appeared in the April 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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