Special thanks to all who supported the Mission Appeal last Sunday. If you were unable to make a contribution and still wish to do so, there are still a couple of weeks left before the deadline when the parish needs to send the donations to the Mission Office. Please remember to make checks payable to: Saint John Paul II Parish. On the memo line, please note “Mission Appeal.”
I am not present with you for liturgy this weekend because I left for a week of retreat on Friday. I will be with 45 other Sisters of Saint Joseph at one of our retreat centers (in Wheeling, West Virginia). Each year I make a retreat from among many offered at the various retreat centers in Michigan. Every so often, we have what is called a “Congregational Retreat” led by a team of directors. It is a week of reflection on our Mission and Charism. This is a year of “Congregational Retreats.” Several dates and locations were proposed and sisters were asked to sign up for the one that best met their schedules. Originally, I thought I would be able to attend one in June in Kalamazoo, but that didn’t work out. I am really looking forward to being with my community and spending a restful, peaceful, prayerful, and spiritually enriching week. Please pray for all of us this week.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus predicts his passion and death. It certainly makes Peter uncomfortable, so much so that he basically tells Jesus that he is wrong because no such thing is going to happen to him. Jesus rebukes him, calling him “Satan”, and telling Peter that he is an obstacle to him. What difficult words to hear! I am sure that Peter thought of himself as a faithful disciple and here Jesus is calling him “Satan.” Jesus goes on to speak about the cross to his disciples and warns them: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” On our part, this Gospel passage can lead to some powerful reflection, some difficult questions, and the need to search our hearts and be brutally honest with ourselves. As Jesus speaks to Peter and his disciples, he is speaking to us. Are there or have there been times that Jesus spoke to us in the same words he spoke to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!” Did it shock us and shake us up enough to change our ways? Have we ever been obstacles to the mission of Jesus or the mission of the Church? Do we, as followers of Jesus, really understand the reality of the cross in our lives? Do we realize that when we act less than Christian we fail Christ and are an impediment to his continued presence and ministry within the Church? These may be tough questions to ask ourselves, but Jesus is asking them of us today.
I would like to encourage all men of the parish interested in becoming part of our newly forming Men’s group to attend a meeting on Tuesday, September 2 at 6:30 PM in the Ed Center (Harrison Drive). Come, make some acquaintances with the men of our parish, and share your ideas and hopes for Saint John Paul II Men’s Group
As I mentioned in last week’s bulletin, I will continue to address some issues that seem to need continued clarification. Again, I will be as thorough as I am able.
Today, I would like to share some information regarding financial matters.
- When the three parishes of Saint Matthew, Saint Josaphat, and Saint John the Baptist merged to form Saint John Paul II Parish, we applied for a new tax ID number. As of July 1, 2014, the other three tax ID numbers no longer existed. No checks could be written from those accounts nor could any monies be deposited into those accounts. Once any outstanding checks cleared the bank, those accounts were officially closed.
- All checking accounts, saving accounts, restricted funds, designated funds, endowment interest, insurance money, etc. from the three former parishes were placed into one account: Saint John Paul II Parish.
- Within the account for Saint John Paul II Parish, there are many sub accounts (both for income and expenses) for the different commissions’ budgets and the different organizations’ income and expenses. Though there are no longer separate checking accounts for each commission or organization, I have assured the leadership of those groups that money is there in the account and that there is no problem in obtaining that money when needed.
- Within Saint John Paul II Parish budget is an accounting for income and expenses incurred for each of the 12 buildings that are now part of our parish. This is most helpful for the monthly reports reviewed by the Finance Council. It gives a good picture of exactly what each building costs to operate and what each building generates in terms of income.
- It seems that there needs to be a clear understanding that all money (no matter the organization, collection, or sponsored activity) belongs to the parish. I will share two examples: 1) Any collection taken up within the parish that is earmarked for the diocese (i.e. Annual Mission Appeal, Campaign for Human Development, Retirement for Religious, etc.) or a collection for a special cause (i.e. hurricane relief) goes through the parish books as income. That is why the diocese and the parish always give the directive to “make checks payable to the parish.” The parish sends a single check to the diocese for the amount collected which the diocese, in turn, incorporates into all the donations that come in throughout the diocese for the same cause. Then, the diocese sends that total amount (which has now gone through their books as income) to the specific organization for which the money was earmarked. [Please note that the parish itself never sends a check on its behalf to any of these designated organizations because they are diocesan collections]. Thus, those monies appear both in the parish budget and in the diocesan budget. 2) The same principle is operative in the case of a youth sponsored bake sale or pop can collection, a parish sponsored casino trip, a parish fundraiser, funeral luncheons, or donations made to the parish food pantry. All monies are deposited directly into the appropriate income category in the budget, as well as the expense category (once the monies are spent and distributed). Money never exchanges hands between parishioners and just remains there. Should any officer, chairperson, representative of a given organization, fundraiser, committee, or commission project receive money from another parishioner for a certain project, that money should be immediately turned into the Business Manager for the designated project.
- The parish has a petty cash account for minor expenses as well as accounts with various companies and vendors (including A & M, Jack’s, Gordon’s, the ACE Hardware store, liturgical and music companies, etc.). If an authorized person (staff member, organization member, etc.) needs to purchase anything, the person simply requests petty cash (if it falls into that category) or fills out a form for “permission to purchase” from the Business Manager (which is signed by the pastor/pastoral administrator).
- All income and expenses are reported monthly to the Finance Council by the Business Manager.
- Each organization and commission will receive a monthly or quarterly report of its income and expenses (provided by the Business Manager).
- All of the procedures that were followed to merge the three parishes’ finances together are in accordance with the manual: A Future Full of Hope: Parish Implementation 2014 (prepared by the Office of Finance of the Diocese of Saginaw).
- On March 11, Deb Bierlein (CFO of the Diocese) and Joan La Pointe (Finance Office) met with Natalie (who was, at that time, the bookkeeper of all three merged parishes) and me, at their request (meaning, a mandatory meeting for us) to go through the above mentioned manual page by page (which took nearly three hours) in order to make sure we clearly understood the timeline of the merger and how finances were to be merged and handled. At that time, it was determined that there would not be any separate checking and savings accounts for groups and organizations at the newly formed Saint John Paul II Parish.
- Just for clarification: when there were separate checking and savings accounts in parishes in the past, there were very strict guidelines as to how finances are to be handled: 1) pastor or pastoral administrator’s name is to be on the account, 2) two signatures are to be on every check, 3) when any expenses are incurred or invoices are received for items bought by an organization, the payment for those are made to the parish and the parish pays the bill (so as to have an accurate account of purchases for the sake of budgeting and reporting), 4) any amount $1,000.00 or more must have the approval of the pastor/pastoral administrator and their signature on the check as well, 5) any cash assets in excess of $10,00.00 must be placed on deposit with Inter-Parish Deposit and Loan Program of the diocese (and that money is still “owned” by the parish), and 6) a report must be sent into the diocese at the end of the fiscal year along with the total parish report prepared by the bookkeeper. All of these guidelines are clearly stated on the diocesan report form that the treasurer or chairperson of the organization prepares each year. In addition to those guidelines, any organization that has its own check book must have the address of the parish on the account (not an individual’s address), any cash on hand must be kept at the parish offices, and the checkbook must be accessible to the pastor/pastoral administrator and bookkeeper.
- There have been some questions raised regarding the parish envelopes. When determining which envelopes to include in the monthly packets for Saint John Paul II Parish, note was taken of the various envelopes included in all three of the merged parishes’ packets. Holy Day envelopes were eliminated because only one of the three parishes used them in the past. The former Saint Josaphat Parish had a “fuel fund” envelope to help cover the cost of the heat in the winter and the air-conditioning in the summer. It was decided to keep this envelope in the packet, only twice a year. It is a gold envelope now entitled “Utility Fund.” Both Saint Matthew and Saint John the Baptist Parishes had an envelope for the building fund. That envelope is included in the packets every other month now. It is blue and is entitle “Building Fund.” It is for unforeseen repairs and to help generate income for a handicap bathroom. As of this past week, we encountered some unforeseen repairs: a hole in the roof of the former Saint Josaphat Convent building that needed to be repaired as well as some flooding in the basement of the same building and some rotting of wood at the Old Saint Josaphat School Building (rented by Carrollton Public Schools) that needs to be taken care of.
- The Parish Finance Council, a required Council in every parish, has the task, through its budget committee, of preparing the annual budget which is approved by the Pastoral Council. The Parish Finance Council closely monitors the budget by reviewing the monthly budget report and making recommendations either to adjust the budget or to continue to move forward with the budget. It is the task of the Finance Council to oversee the grounds and the buildings and to make recommendations as to general maintenance and improvements needed. When I write articles about the various commissions in the future, I will give more detail as to the many other responsibilities of the Finance Council.
Since the financial information have shared with you has taken much more space than I initially thought it would, I will wait until next week to speak about handicap needs and the parish food pantry. This will also give you the time to digest all the information I gave you today regarding finances. Thank you for taking the time to read this comprehensive information.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ