New members appointed to archdiocesan finance council

BRIGHTON -- When Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley was looking to appoint three new members to the Archdiocese of Boston’s Finance Council, he turned to lay people who are experts in their respective fields.

Jack Connors has helped build a successful advertising firm, Jack McCarthy has assisted non-profit companies with accounting and finance and Jim O’Connor has served as a chief financial officer for many years.

The cardinal, head of the 20-member council, is seeking greater lay involvement in the financial operations of the archdiocese, according to James P. McDonough, the archdiocesan chancellor and member of the council.

Cardinal O’Malley had previously appointed McCarthy as head of the financial transparency initiative, which released its report in April this year. He then appointed O’Connor to head the committee charged with reviewing the organizational and managerial structure of the archdiocese and restoring it to financial health.

“We’re very fortunate to have tremendously successful businesspeople who are willing to give their time, energy and expertise,” McDonough said. “We’re blessed to have that.”

All three of the new council members have outstanding records, he added.

Jack Connors, together with three associates, founded the firm of Hill Holliday in 1968. The company is now one of the top 20 advertising and marketing communications firms in the country, Connors said.

Connors serves as chairman of the board of directors of Partners HealthCare System. He is also chairman of the board of Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare and Dana-Farber/Harvard CancerCare, chair of the board of fellows at Harvard Medical School, vice chairman of the board of trustees of Boston College, and a trustee of Brandeis University and Emmanuel College.

“Jack has distinguished himself throughout the community on numerous boards and committees, which he has played a leadership role on,” McDonough said.

Connors said he looks forward to helping the Church rebuild and have the resources necessary to continue its mission.

“There’s been a lot of focus on the finances, but the reality is that the mission of the Church is not a financial mission, it’s a spiritual and a human mission,” he said. “The finance council’s job is to make sure there’s enough resources available for the cardinal and those who work with him and for him to respond to the mission.”

Jack McCarthy, who led the transparency project, recently retired from a 37-year career with the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked exclusively with non-profit organizations. McCarthy is now a principal at Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Non-profit Organizations and an adjunct lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government.

He has served on several boards of trustees, including the board of Catholic Charities, Boston College High School and the Pine Street Inn.

McCarthy said he hopes to work with other members of the finance council to reestablish the credibility of the archdiocese.

“The single most important goal that we all have is to reestablish the credibility in every aspect of the central operations of the archdiocese with the parishes and the larger Catholic community in Boston,” he said.

Reestablishing the communication lines will ultimately have a “tremendously positive financial impact” on the archdiocese, he added.

As the leader of the financial transparency committee, McCarthy helped the archdiocese produce financial disclosures on par with the disclosures made by any public corporation, McDonough said.

“He will be a great help as we move forward, providing a level of board oversight that is really important for any company, particularly an entity as large and expansive as this,” McDonough said of McCarthy.

Jim O’Connor established a private merchant and investment bank in the 1980s called the Chartwell Co. He was also a partner at Arthur Andersen & Co. for over 10 years and chief financial officer of SW Industries for seven years.

He is also a member of the Knights of Malta and headed the organization for six years.

O’Connor said both the archdiocese and its finance council are in “great shape.”

“We’ve got the operations straightened out. The financial aspect for the time being is OK,” he said. “We’re not bleeding anymore, and there’s good credibility.”

O’Connor added that he hopes to help the archdiocese continue to build credibility and regionalize services.

“We want to bring the day-to-day stuff closer and closer to the parishes and the people,” he said.

The council must also work to support Cardinal O’Malley, he said.

“I don’t know many CEOs who could ever have survived what he’s gone through, and he never loses his sense of humor,” he said. “He’s a man for all seasons. He knows what he knows and knows what he doesn’t know, but if you explain to him something he gets it very quickly. He has enormous pastoral abilities.”

O’Connor has a great knowledge of the operations at the archdiocese because of the work he has already done, McDonough said.

“Jim O’Connor has become very familiar with the operations here as the chairman of the implementation committee, which is a group that worked over the course of the last year to help get the budget back in balance,” he said.

McDonough added that the goal is to have a more proactive finance council that will begin a process of building a long-term plan for the archdiocese, which faces several challenges.

“There are some unfunded liabilities that face us as we go forward. There’s a substantial amount of deferred maintenance in some of the urban churches especially. There’s significant liability in the clergy pension funds,” he said.

The archdiocese needs a capital plan, which will involve building an endowment for the services it provides, he said.

For the first time the archdiocese has implemented a committee structure that will allow chancery offices to access the knowledge and advice of committee members. Already Connors will chair the archdiocesan Development Committee and McCarthy will be chairman of the Audit Committee, McDonough said.

Diocesan finance councils are required by Canon Law. Members serve five-year terms. The cardinal is required to consult the council on some matters and seek their consent or approval on others.