By Sister Laura Goedken, OP
In answer to Father John Spiegel’s letter to the editor last week, our diocesan budget does reflect what is happening in our parishes.
The Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA) parish goals are based on the parish ordinary income. If the ordinary income for a given parish goes down one year, this drop is reflected in the next year’s ADA goal. If the total ordinary income of all parishes drops, the overall diocesan goal of the ADA goes down the following year. Collectively, ordinary income of the parishes decreased in fiscal 2010; this was reflected in the decreased diocesan ADA goal for fiscal 2012. The delay of one fiscal year is a matter of timing. Budgets must be approved and ADA goals set before fiscal data comes in from parishes.
The diocesan budget is heavily dependent on the ADA. When income drops, our expenses must drop. It is not unusual for our employees to be told they would receive very little or no salary increase and they need to decrease department budgets. The diocese creates a budget each year just as all parishes do. Projected income is based on income from the prior year which is what parishes also do.
All dioceses in the country are supported by their parishes. Some have what is commonly referred to as a tax; others have an annual appeal. Most dioceses have both; we do not. Most dioceses base the amount asked from parishes on the individual parish ordinary income. Our amount is 16 percent of ordinary income. Although complete data is not available for all dioceses, the percentage of the combined tax and the appeal ranges from 15 percent in some dioceses to as high as 26 percent in other dioceses. Our percentage is very modest.
Some dioceses return back to the parish any amount raised over their appeal goal just as we do. For other dioceses, the overage is kept by the diocese.
The annual appeal in all dioceses supports the operations of the central diocesan offices. It pays for the services of staff who provide a wide array of services for parishes. This includes Bishop Martin Amos who attends national and regional meetings representing us, serves on many boards and committees and goes to parishes to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation. The appeal pays for the education of our future priests and deacons. Our school superintendent serves our Catholic schools in the same way a superintendent does in local public schools. Our finance office handles the employee benefits for many parishes and schools, assists the finance staff in parishes and schools with accounting, deals with personnel issues in parishes and so much more.
We are grateful to all our people who donate so generously to the Annual Diocesan Appeal. You are furthering the work of the Church and living the Gospel of Jesus.
(Sr. Laura Goedken, OP, is development director for the Diocese of Davenport.)