Browsing From the Pastor's Desk

Out of Business

Sep 8, 2017

I don’t like to think about it. And I certainly don’t like to talk about it or write about it. But our parish finance council, made up of parishioners like you, told me I must do something. So I must think about the unthinkable… think, talk and write about the fact that we could go out of business.

There is a simple fact behind almost every business closure… income is insufficient to cover expenditures. And that is quite frankly the situation we are in. The fiscal year ending June 2017 ran a deficit of just over $100,000. The projection for this current year is over $200,000. Some of you who have been watching the numbers as they appear in the bulletin every week have asked me how we can go on when the weekly collection falls so short of weekly expenses. Obviously we cannot go on indefinitely.

In answer to their question, we do have a cushion of sorts, some funds saved up over past years. But before too long the cushion will be used up and then we will have to sit on the hard, uncomfortable facts and what that would mean for the parish… at the very least, sharply reduced services, or possibly closure or amalgamation with another parish.

The weekly collection does not have to exactly balance our expenses. We do receive some planned gifts and thankfully are remembered in the estates of some deceased. But we must come much closer to matching income and expenses than we have been.

How do we find ourselves in this situation now? A number of reasons. One is that many parishioners do not realize we have this problem. This parish has significantly exceeded its goal…meaning you have contributed much more than was expected…to the ACA and Beyond Sunday Campaigns. You didn’t know we too were in need.

Of course, our costs go up every year, and we do our best to reduce them where we can and be careful about spending. But it does cost to maintain our facilities and provide good pastoral care to you. Some parishes have cut youth programs or PSR, reduced Mass schedules or personnel, closed buildings and sold off portions of their property. We feel that here, as we get calls from area nursing homes to please come and anoint the sick or dying because they can’t reach a priest in their own parish. I am glad to say that we are generously responsive to our neighbors, just as you are.

Many of our original parishioners who very generously built up this parish, and the cushion of funds that gets us by, have downsized, moved out of the parish or on to assisted living facilities or to their eternal rewards. Their considerable financial support is sorely missed now.

Our finance committee is in the process of reallocating our “cushion” funds in the Archdiocesan bank in such a way that they will earn more interest income for us, and going forward that will help reduce the deficit by about 50%. However, there is an inherent risk associated with our investment in higher earning funds. You may remember back in 2007/08, institutions generally lost 33% of their invested funds when the bottom fell out of the stock market, and that shock was felt in the whole economy. The market goes up and down, although in the long term the trend is up.

As long as we can keep our invested funds working as investments earning interest or dividends, we should be safe. However, if we need to draw on these funds to cover our normal operations, that will shrink the amount available to invest, reduce the income from investments and eventually our cushion will be eliminated… if we depend on it for operations.

So the bottom line is, to keep us in business, I need to ask you to give more to St. Anselm Parish. As I pointed out two weeks ago, one of the precepts of the Church is the obligation to financially support the Church, and Saint Anselm Parish is your Church home. But only you know how much you can afford to give. I hate to ask, but no one knows better the value of Saint Anselm Parish, no one has a greater interest in keeping Saint Anselm Parish active and strong in its mission to serve the people of Town and Country and Creve Coeur.

We need your help. Please. You need your help. I pray for you every day and pray you will keep us in business.

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