From the Pastor…FrMark_1

Last weekend I reported in this space that I had approved the parish’s operating budget for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1. That budget anticipates total parish revenue of nearly $2.1 million during FY2018. This includes $1.8 million of revenue from the Sunday Offertory collections, both the collection taken up during Mass and on-line donations. The remaining $300,000 in parish revenue includes interest income on several parish investment accounts, fees paid for religious education/ Edge/LifeTeen activities, and fees paid by participants in parish basketball and volleyball programs.

We anticipate expenses this next fiscal year of just shy of $2 million, leaving a budgeted cushion of $100,000.

In preparing the FY18 budget, the Finance Council and parish staff worked hard to make sure that we are good stewards of your gifts. At the very beginning of the budget process, we asked staff to prepare their program budgets not simply by adding a small percentage to last year’s figures, but by closely reviewing what we did last year and carefully planning what we want to do differently this next year. In this way, the budget becomes more than an account of parish revenue and expenditures; it becomes a statement about what ministries and programs are most important to the parish.

Given that Sunday worship is the most important thing we do at STM, we continue our strong investment in our parish’s liturgical life, especially the liturgical music program which we want to stabilize and improve. Accordingly, we have allocated substantial funds for a choir director, professional accompanists, singers, and cantors. We make this investment with the overriding goal of assuring the full, conscious, and active participation of you, our parishioners, in our worship.

In the coming year, we will increase our spending on our parish faith formation programs, including youth ministry. Specifically, in collaboration with Ignatius House Retreat Center, we have hired an additional full time staff person and a part time staff person to work with present staff to enhance this effort. I will say more about these hires in a future bulletin.

We also intend to continue our increased commitment to social justice and outreach ministries. This past year, because of your generous gifts to STM, we were able to increase our spending on care for the poor and other disadvantaged persons by more than $150,000 over the previous year when there was virtually nothing in the budget for outreach. Specifically, we were able to make major gifts to Cristo Rey Atlanta High School to support the education of four disadvantaged students($20,000); to Catholic Charities Atlanta to support the resettlement of a refugee family in the Clarkston area ($10,000); to co-sponsor the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home for a low income family in Lithonia ($50,000); to purchase medical equipment for a ServeHaiti health clinic in Haiti ($10,000); to provide emergency relief to the Loyola Wau Secondary School in South Sudan, including measures designed to enhance the security of the students who attend school in a conflict zone ($15,000); and to replace the roof at the Good Shepherd Orphanage run by the Missionaries of the Poor in Uganda ($40,000). All of these gifts were recommended by the parishioners who serve on our STM Social Justice Committee. We hope to continue this same sort of assistance at a comparable level this next year, but whether we can do so will depend on your continued generosity.

In anticipation of major improvements to parish facilities in the next two to five years, we intend to contribute as much as $100,000 to our capital reserve fund.

Certain expenditures that we cannot control will also increase, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits and utilities. By far the largest increase of this sort was our mandated payments to the Archdiocese of Atlanta for the support of Catholic schools (up more than $30% over the previous year) and for various Archdiocesan ministries (up nearly 30% over the previous fiscal year). The parish budget for FY18 includes more than $490,000 for these two assessments alone.

I repeat my thanks to the STM Finance Council for recommending a budget that is not only responsive to the changing needs of the parish but which also does so responsibly. I also thank Carol Palmer, our parish Business Manager. Carol has done a wonderful job tracking revenues and expenses and identifying ways in which we can be more accountable to parishioners.

Finally, I thank you STM parishioners for your generous support of the parish over the years. I encourage you to remain generous, for our ability to serve you well depends in large part on your willingness to contribute financially to the parish.

As we have done in the past, we will publish an end-of-year financial report to the parish as soon as possible after the final numbers are in. In the meantime, if any parishioner has questions regarding parish finances, he or she can speak directly to me or Carol or to any of the members of the Finance Council. Their names are listed on the parish website under “About STM,” and “Parish Governance.”

Fr. Mark