A parish perspective on the new financial relationship model

Sacred Heart Parish, North Quincy, volunteered to be part of the Phase One implementation for the archdiocese's Improved Financial Relationship Model (IFRM) after our Finance Council reviewed our parish's current support to Central Ministries and the envisioned support under the new model. The realization was the IFRM would be financially beneficial to our parish.

We felt that the two components of the new financial model would have a positive impact on Sacred Heart Parish. First, the monthly tithe of 10 percent of base revenue (offertory, grand annual, net rental income) is more equitable and simpler than the existing payment of multiple fees and taxes. It is easier to budget a monthly tithe than receiving surprise assessments, taxes and fees during the fiscal year. Second, the Catholic Appeal assessment of 8 percent has a rebate back to the parish of 50 percent over our goal, in contrast to the existing model of a rebate of 25 percent. With Sacred Heart parishioners always being supportive of the Catholic Appeal we see this as a "win-win" situation for all.

One of the expectations with this new model was to engage a fundraising firm for an increased offertory campaign. In past years, we had worked with a firm to help us on an increased giving program and on our grand annual campaign. These were done with successful results.

In May, without hesitation we chose the same firm to do our increased offertory campaign. This campaign was an opportunity for all registered households to prayerfully consider, "What return can I make to the Lord for all His kindnesses to me?" (Psalm 116). Our offertory increased 10 percent with this campaign.

Even though we are in the early stages of this new model, the Catholic Appeal component has been worthwhile to us. A welcoming rebate of a little over $8,000 is expected for our parish, an increase of $6,000 from last year's rebate.

During these challenging economic times, the financial sacrifices parishioners have made to the increased offertory campaign and the Catholic Appeal have had promising results.

Our willingness to be a participant in Phase One entitles us to resources and support from an Implementation Team, which is only a phone call and/or e-mail away. A meeting with parish service consultant Tricia Fraser was helpful to us in understanding how this new model would affect our parish after the June 30 closing of all the Catholic Schools in Quincy to form Quincy Catholic Academy. Tricia assured us that this transition to a new model is not to cause a financial hardship for any parish but to achieve a greater equity from one parish to the next. Also, for us to keep in mind that an annual abatement process is in place for both the monthly tithe and the Catholic Appeal assessment if a parish experiences a significant change in financial condition.

Another positive aspect of being a participant of the Phase One group is the camaraderie amongst the group of parishes. We have found the investment of our time at the luncheon/feedback sessions with the Implementation Team has been an opportunity to share our best practices and strive to make this IFRM profitable and equitable to our parishes and Central Ministries. Being served lunch on the Pastoral Center's "best china" was an affirmation that they truly consider us their leadership team and value our advice with this implementation.

We are hopeful that with this Improved Financial Relationship Model, that all parishes in the archdiocese will come to understand that we have a responsibility not only to the ministries in our parish but to the ministries beyond our parish boundaries which flow through Central Ministries.

Father John O'Brien is pastor and Arlene Dooley is the parish business manager at Sacred Heart parish in Quincy.