It’s something we all should do so that we can properly manage our financial affairs. Businesses, governments, schools, colleges and universities, as well as charitable and social organizations, are required to prepare and submit budgets for the approval of their constituents. Even not-for-profit entities have to do this, and thus the Church at the parish and diocesan levels is expected to operate with a budget to ensure proper stewardship of contributions received in support of its mission and ministries. Just as secular institutions operate on a “fiscal year” which may or may not coincide with the calendar year, so too does the Church. For the Diocese of Buffalo and for Holy Apostles Parish the fiscal year runs from September 1st of one year to August 31st of the succeeding year. Indeed, since we’re now at the middle of July our Finance Council is working diligently to have our budget finalized at our August meeting.
If you’ve ever been involved in such a process you know it can be rather complex and time consuming. Our starting point is to project what our income is likely to be and then consider how this will compare to the expenditures that will be incurred for the operation of the parish. Here it is important to note that the funding should come principally from the Sunday and Holy Day collections. Although we do have auxiliary income (such as rental income from the lease with Chautauqua opportunities for the Holy Family Center) and extraordinary receipts (as from bequests and currently from the Upon This Rock Initiative), it is really the regular offertory receipts that determine the health and direction of our parish. There is a cause for concern here, and I want you to be aware of how this will affect our budgeting.
For the past several years there has been a steady decline in our regular collections. There are a number of factors in play bringing about this situation, some of which are beyond our ability to control such as the decline in the Chautauqua County population causing a concomitant reduction in the number of parishioners, and economic factors affecting peoples’ ability to contribute to the parish. The end result, however, is less financial resources to meet our obligations. We thus have to look at ways to reduce our expenditures. Yes, we do have the blessing of the auxiliary and extraordinary receipts; however, it would not be good stewardship to rely on those to meet our regular obligations. A portion of those funds needs to be held in reserve in part to provide a “rainy day fund” to cover the costs of unexpected and unpredictable repairs.
Thus, as we plod through the details of budgeting I would ask that you say a prayer for the work of our Finance Council that we may prepare a responsible budget for the coming fiscal year that demonstrated good stewardship of our parish resources.
Be at peace,
Father Dennis Mende