The Budget Committee sat for a long while last month, reviewing the numbers in the parish finance budget proposal. Our fiscal year begins July 1st and the reality is that we cannot meet our expenses in the next year. The assessment levied by the Archdiocese on the parish from the number of properties needed to be insured is harsh. And the properties for which we are responsible require much maintenance. In fact, the Archdiocese is studying the possibility of reducing or eliminating the towers from Holy Cross Church. Finally, the administrator of our parish, Maria Vazquez said, “There really is nothing else we can cut from the budget, unless we close buildings and reduce our services.” It was clear no one was in favor of that option.
We are not alone in this bleak financial picture. Most inner-City parishes are hurting. And despite our best efforts to invite a sharing parish to assist us from the better off areas of the Archdiocese, but the reality is the Archdiocese is not in a position to help us much. They face their own bleak reality of loss and change. What is our strength, and always has been, is the people of our parish.
While financial resources are limited, the spirit of giving and serving is strong in the parish. Groups are strong that serve the needs of youth, immigrants, those suffering from domestic violence, and accompany the poor. In fact, our programming serves well over 300 youth a week! We also have networked with SOS Children’s Village, the City and State, to make sure we are available to serve the needs of as many as possible.
To be sure, the faithful of our parish have made a big impact on the lives of many. Moreover, our ability to raise funds from other outside resources is strengthening, but it will take time. The “Development” department of our parish is new and supported by the Claretians as we face our financial realities.
So, the Budget Committee made recommendations and the staff is working to balance the budget. Thanks to their work, we are proposing some changes for the summer. Office hours will change and we will close the office on Mondays. Also, we will reduce the office hours slightly on Saturdays from 9 am to 12 Noon. Immaculate Heart of Mary will also be closed on Thursdays and Fridays. We are reorganizing the structure of our services so that we save on costs.
As you feel some of these changes, thank you for your own volunteer service and support. You are a blessing in all your giving in this parish and our staff thanks you. We keep you in our prayers as well.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF