Boston Archdiocese Budgetary Hocus Pocus

We will return to discussion of the upcoming “ad limina” visit next time.  But since money is always a big topic for the folks at 66 Brooks, BCI felt it might be helpful for them if we gave some advice and guidance in how to be more “transparent” and “accountable,” as the archdiocese says they want to be.

Every year, the Chancellor publishes a proposed operating budget for the fiscal year.  And every year, as the Office of the Chancellor adds more staff (such as his $200+K/year fully-loaded Exec. Director of Finance and Operations), naturally, the depth of what is released publicly in the operating budget grows thinner and thinner, and the budgetary magic tricks become tougher and tougher to figure out.

Here are the budgets  for 2010 (a 34 page document), 2011 (a 4 page document), and 2012 (a one-page document).  If you look carefully at the 2010 and 2011 budgets below, you will notice a few of the tricks and illusions.

Child Advocacy and Victim Assistance which was $2.975 million in 2010, and $2.5 million in 2011, has completely disappeared as a line item expense in 2012.  Poof!  Gone!  Dropped from $2.5M a year to $0/year–like magic!  Have Barbara Thorp and her team of social workers all been let go?  Is the archdiocese no longer paying for counseling and therapy?  No–they are still there in the same offices doing the same work.  Their costs have just been magically moved off the Central Ministries budget to someplace else. Perhaps the Chancellor will say it was just an “in” and matching “out” from insurance, so there is no need to show it this year, even though there was a need to show it in past years. Or, maybe the expense is simply hidden underneath a silk handkerchief or behind the black curtain.  While we wait to hear from the Chancellor and his six-figure salaried aides where the $2.5M is hidden,  BCI will drop illusionists David Copperfield and Chris Angel a line to see if they can help us find the missing expense.

Decreased Allocation for Faith Formation and Evangelization: This dropped from $5.5M in 2011 to $4.1M in 2012.  Some of that was due to special one-time funding for the “Catholics Come Home” program in 2011.  But there is still a dramatic cut in this area after allowing for Catholics Come Home.  And remember too, this is the year that Pope Benedict XXI has declared a “Year of Faith“–“a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time.” It is a time for a “new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ.”  BCI is curious as to how the Cardinal will explain in the upcoming “ad limina” visit to Rome how the Boston Archdiocese is giving” new impetus” to faith formation and evangelization when the budget in this area was cut by nearly 30% year over year.

Increased Funding for Administrative Services: At a time when everyone is tightening their belts trying to do more with less, administrative services costs have grown from $9.5M in 2011 to $9.95M in 2012–just $50K shy of $10 million.  If the central ministry expenses are indeed to be believed at a total of $27.8M, that means the central bureaucracy at 66 Brooks is consuming 36% of the total budget for administrative expenses, with not even one line-item level of detail provided to Catholic faithful to justify these costs.  (Those of you still giving to the Catholic Appeal, take note).

Beyond the above, there is the $500K increased expense for fund-raising in order to raise the exact same amount as last year, and more.  BCI will stop for now.

If anyone reading BCI is versed in magic or finance and can explain the secrets behind some of these budgetary tricks, please drop us a line. Meanwhile, we hope and pray that the Chancellor and his staff and the fundraising folks can find a way to reduce their costs so evangelization, campus ministry, prison ministry, youth and young adult ministry, adult faith formation (something better than “Why Catholic?”) and strengthening of faith in this “Year of Faith” can get some more support and funding.

40 Responses to Boston Archdiocese Budgetary Hocus Pocus

  1. Donna M O'Brien says:

    Oh, boy! It just keeps getting worse and worse. Can anyone tell me how much of the Grand Annual Collection in parishes has to go to the Magic Shoppe at 66 Brooks? Just curious. BTW: well written post, as always. I pray for your continued devotion to justice for our Church.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Hi BCI – Great analylis and fantastic attention to detail! Thank you for printing this for all to see, comprehend and be educated.

      Will be back in Town on Tuesday – in Las Vegas now and my only observation is that, from an economic perspective, one cannot believe we are still in a recession. The Wynn Towers where I am staying is full, the Andre Agassi Foundation event that is here has concluded, and we raised $18 Million for his Las Vegas Schools Foundation in one night. Regards.

  2. Great Analysis! I bet the fur is flying at the Chancellory now! Maybe instead of this appeal they should just pray to St. Jude. Let them put their faith where they hope money will be! Can you imagine Jesus and the 12 Apostles sending out “appeals for money? Can you imagine them paying HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS or even Widow’s mites to Madison Avenue PR firms to write “Plea Letters?” I enjoyed this article more than any other that I have read about the Boston Archdiocese since Cardinal Law left. Good job!

    • Michael says:

      I think the prayer should be to St. Anthony … something lost and can’t be found … please St. Anthony look around.

  3. qclou says:

    I believe the Grand Annual tithe is 17% like the total Offertory Collections.

  4. Former Employee says:

    I would really like to see the Fundraising Office’s strategic plan with projections.

    More staff mean greater expenses naturally, but normally there is a projection to justify the cost….especially that high a cost.

    And a question : Which of these line items represent the “parish tax” (aka Appeal assessment) which is being collected? I would think it a seperate line item given it’s potential impact.

  5. Mack says:

    I’m not an accountant so maybe this is a silly question, but why does the line for fundraising have no income but only expenses? I thought fund raising is supposed to –you know — bring in funds. (Unless that’s for the Catholic Appeal and they’re just showing it separately.)??

    Also, there’s no income listed for the semaries but only an expense of 45,000. Do the seminarians pay any tuition at all? And how can St John’s and John 23rd exist with a budget of only 45,000? I would think that wouldn’t even cover utilities, let alone salaries, etc. It seems strange to me.

    • Presbyter says:

      The Seminaries are not covered under central administration’s budget as they are separate legal entities, they have their own budgets and endowments that attempt to cover expenses. Seminarians do not pay tuition and nor should they as they are giving their lives in service to the Church. They must however pay for their own books, cars, car insurance, etc. Yes they are required to have cars to get to and from field education and what not. Some even have part time jobs to pay for these things. Who knows what the 45k was for…it’s a pittance for support of the great work done at both seminaries.

      • rf5580 says:

        Isn’t there a collection on the feasty of Pentecost that helps the seminaries? I would also hope bishops fropm other dioceses would contribute to the seminary if their candidates are there.

      • Mack says:

        Thank you for the clarification, Father!

      • Objective Observer says:

        RCAB seems to treat the seminaries like piggy banks. This is not OK as the seminaries are completely separate entities; they are graduate schools, and their only link under civil law to RCAB is that the cardinal is chairman of their boards. They are not any part of Corp Sole and the cardinal (personally) violates all kinds of financial standards and IRS rules when the chancellor pressures the seminaries to quack like Corp Sole.

        The financial sleight of hand that appears to be employed in the RCAB relationship with the seminaries amounts to contraverting donor intent by sending seminary funds to support RCAB (think of the Brighton property sale where RCAB kept the proceeds). BJXXIII has managed to push the chancellor away a bit but sadly it looks like the leadership at SJS has only managed to talk a good game while it seems like the chancellor has put them on a very short pipeline that funnels money to RCAB. The seminaries are separate entities and must be treated as such in the spirit and the letter of the civil law. Any provision to the contrary is not kosher with groups like the IRS and shouldn’t be with the Mass. AG.

        The seminaries’ second collection appears to be used to fund the vocations office, and a limited number of expenses for only some Boston seminarians. If you look at the RCAB and SJS financial statements for FY 2010 posted on RCAB’s website, you’ll have a tough time reconciling what appears there with the facts. Notice that RCAB owes SJS $40M from the property sale. Why is that OK? Why are donor dollars being siphoned off by RCAB? And why is it OK for Sean to supply only a blank stare when asked about this?

        With the wonderful news that the seminaries are getting quite full, how can we stand by and watch if the chancellor is taking their resources to cover his bloated central budget?

        Lastly, it appears that seminarians’ tuition, room and board is paid by their own bishop, except for Boston. Boston seminarians (at least at SJS) appear to be funded by St John’s endowment.

        If the new VG can’t put canonical and civil requirements ahead of appeasing the chancellor, will the last Catholic in Boston put out the lights as you leave?

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      Mack, I think the income associated with the fundraising is reflected in the $14 million for the Catholic Appeal in the top.

  6. Mack says:

    I also see there’s a note at the linked statement:

    * “A comprehensive budget report for Fiscal 2012 will be made available to parishes in the Fall 2011. If you have any questions, please contact Kevin Kiley at 617-746-5776. Thank you.”

    Maybe we should all call Mr Kiley!

  7. Little Red Hen says:

    In each budget, there are line item amounts under “revenue” for offices that I would think shouldn’t be expected to produce revenue — the Catholic Schools Office, for example. What revenue can they be referring to?

  8. rf5580 says:

    A while ago someone said that the crowd at 66 Brooks couldn’t manage the 11p-7a shift at 7-11. One pastor said that the $325,000 per year Mary Grassa O’Neil receives is more than his annual parish budget. If Msgr Deeley doesn’t do something about the corruption that is spoken about in the BCI then he will be part of the corruption.

    • Michael says:

      Mary Grassa O’Neill is underpaid. Do you know what she does? She takes parochial schools (one’s under the direct control of a Catholic priest, a pastor) and she magically transforms them into “Catholic Academies” (ones not under a pastor’s control or authority).

      This will be particularly helpful when in the near future Catholic schools not only allow children (abused) living in same-sex households to enter and create spiritual confusion (for the children of the poor slobs forking out tuition for a Catholic education), but actually endorse and promote transgenderism and homosexuality in the “catholic” school. She has already turned a blind eye toward the promotion of the Transgender agenda in failing to take any action with Sacred Heart “Catholic” school’s (not a parochial school) recent antics.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        How about requiring all the Catholic School students in the RCAB to take take the same State mandated test (MCAS) that public school students take so that Catholic parents can have a basis for comparison when they make a decision for their childrens’ education. How about requiring that Catholic school teachers be certified the same way public school teachers are? Duck those arguments, Folks, and you are subjecting our youth to sub-standard education. Also, those standards can be used by you as a basis to judge the salary that the woman who is bashed about on here receives. If she has qualified students at schools that produce stellar students then she is worth what she gets and, BTW, 325K may not be an overpayment if she produces. However, if she equates “her” results by the number of academies are created, she and we are jerks and she should be fired.

      • CuriousCatholic says:

        BobofNewton- The state teachers union doesn’t allow catholic school students to take the MCAS so that the performance of catholic schools doesnt trounce public schools. Catholic schools would do this in a heartbeat.

      • Carolyn says:


        Many students from Catholic schools take the ISEE to enter Boston Latin School for 7th grade. This is the same test taken to enter Nobles and Greenough, Belmont Hill and other independent schools for the same grade. Catholic school students have a stellar record on the ISEE. This test not only assesses knowledge (as MCAS does), but reasoning and critical thinking — the keys to the ability to learn at a high level. (Public schools have students with special needs but they are usually absolved of the MCAS requirement.)

        National standardized testing consistently shows Catholic schools across the archdiocese outperforming not only public schools in the same towns, but public schools nationally. This is likely due to the highly structured teaching environments and the ability of Catholic schools to keep classes fairly small. That said, Catholic school students tend to be drained out by highly competitive schools beginning in 7th grade. Most of them qualify for financial assistance at private schools, and many of the Boston residents go to BLS.

        Mary Grassa O’Neil had nothing to do with any of this during all those years that she presided over the school committee in Milton. And paying her more than the NYC and Boston supers get is comical. Explain her compensation to anyone except the heads of elite boarding schools and you’ll get heckled, or worse.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        Thank you Carolyn. And Curiouscatholic. Can either of you provide support forvyour statements? I would love to have some backup to support my feeling whichbis the same as yours. Thank you in advance for your kind assistance.

      • VeritasVeritatis says:

        In response to BobOfNewton:
        Any suggestion that the standards of the public schools be applied to Catholic schools are not to be taken seriously.
        The Catholic School exists to protect children from the government schools, intellectually, morally and spiritually.
        Whether or not they are accomplishing that mission is irrelevant to this argument. If I recall my Baltimore Catechism correctly, placing one’s children in a government school is a sin, even more so today I would think than at the time of that publication.
        The public schools are inferior to Catholic schools and to home-schooling in most cases. There should be no standard set for either of those things that looks to government schools.

  9. rf5580 says:

    Notice in local government, when Prop 2 1/2 overrides fail, municipalities often “find” funds to support city and town services. Surprise, surprise. The bureaucracy at 66 Brooks is resembling the self-serving government politicians and their pals more and more each day with their magic tricks.

  10. Time for a change says:

    Its all smoke and mirrors. Chancellor Smith always published the Central Fund audited financial statements. If the current Chancellor wants to say he has a balance budget and have any credibility he has to publish those statements. A balanced budget with no actuals to compare it to has zero credibility.
    If its true show us. If not, I for one, conclude its smoke and mirrors. Putting out the 2010 Central fund statements would take only a couple of keystrokes.

  11. Jack O'Malley says:

    Whenever I drop an envelope into the collection basket, I make it an IOU for $100.

    It is dependent on the expulsion of the avaricious oligarchy in Braintree not least Mary “La Grassa” O’Neill, the excommunication of Jack Connors, the moneychanger in the temple, the exile of Bernie Law to the Egyptian desert with a modest stipend for locust sandwiches at the local KFC (it tastes like chicken, Bernie), the assignment of Cardinal O’Malley to an obscure Moslem villiage in Africa to flog his non-Indo-European lingustic skills evangelising the jihadists, the restoration of the True Mass in all parishes of the archdiocese, and the celebration of a pontifical solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica by “Motu” Necktie Joe Ratzinger.

    I am in hock to the tune of about six grand plus as of the present date but I don’t think there will be any takers. I love being debt-free.

    • Novus Ned says:

      Ahh Jack and his “wit”
      Must be nice knowing you’ll never have to pay that bill.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Good luck, Jack! I think your $6K is secure and I guess the needs of your parish and your fellow parishioners appreciate your largesse “in absentia”.

      If people like Jack Connors and others followed your charitable example, the RCAB would indeed be in distress. I respectfully take a different approach. Enjoy the week and drop another $100.00 IOU in the box. BTW, I trust you sign the note with your name and address right? Yeah, right!

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      Actually, I sign it “BobofNewtn” just on the off-chance Bernie Law does retire to the sands of Egypt.

      BTW, the thing was supposed to be satire. Only satire. Come on.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        Sorry I missed the fact that it was satire. My apologies indeed. Enjoy the week and feel free to use my name on the collection envelopes.LOL. Bob

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        No problem. I must be losing my edge. Not that I ever had one! Have a good week yourself.

    • DFW says:

      Good luck Jack when you meet Jesus (hopefully) and he asks you “how have you supported MY church?” All your excuses and disagreements with decisions of the Apostles he chose will sound like excuses. Your intentions or rationalizations won’t matter – your actions will. Pray for a little humility – you come off as an angry know-it-all.

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        Jeez, DFW, I hope you won’t be sitting at the right hand of the Son of God. I’ve a suspicion you won’t be. You really missed the whole point, didn’t you? Did you just fly in from Texas or what? Welcome to God’s country.

      • Novus Ned says:

        DFW you are correct

  12. Mack says:

    The 2010 budget, which had more info, shows expenses of 596,335 for the Cardinal’s office. The document says, “The Cardinal’s Office supports the Cardinal and the work he does throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.” I’m wondering exactly what he did that cost that much money.

  13. qclou says:

    also flights to Ireland for ‘+himself’ and staff support and other flunkies. [Comment edited by BCI]

  14. bitsnbytes says:

    Are parishes supposed to be paying a “tax” on collections now? Where does that money figure into the FY12 budget?

  15. VeritasVeritatis says:

    The use of “hocus pocus” in the title was not well thought ought;
    or perhaps it was.
    We are wanting to expose the abuses,
    not the essential mission of the Church,
    or I ought to state that those whom I know and myself
    are interested in that.
    My first exposure to your website now has me thinking that perhaps it is run by those who are anti-Catholic rather than those who wish to end abuse and strengthen the Church and that thought will endure.

    • VeritasVeritatis,

      Perhaps you are new here. Reader feedback is welcome and appreciated, but your accusation of BCI as being “anti-Catholic” has no basis whatsoever. BCI is not clear at all on the nature of your criticism, and your comment suggests you may be confused about the focus of BCI.

      BCI is very much pro-Catholic and wants to strengthen the Catholic Church. Look at the last paragraph of the post. “Meanwhile, we hope and pray that the Chancellor and his staff and the fundraising folks can find a way to reduce their costs so evangelization, campus ministry, prison ministry, youth and young adult ministry, adult faith formation (something better than �Why Catholic?�) and strengthening of faith in this �Year of Faith� can get some more support and funding.”

      This post exposes some aspects of the lack of transparency in the archdiocesean budget process and how the Archdiocese is spending money in ways that do not necessarily strengthen the Catholic Church. Those could be considered “abuses” of trust and “abuses” of donor funds. For example, we reported an increase in administrative expenses while the overall budget is reduced, including a reduced allocation for faith formation and evangelization. Our hope in sharing this information is that the archdiocese will refocus her priorities on spreading the saving mission of Jesus Christ, rather than continuing to spend more money on bean-counters while the number of beans to count has been shrinking.

      Why the word “Hocus Pocus” in the title? For two years you see funding for a $2.5M line item in the budget, and suddenly, the next year, that same line item has completely disappeared. Now you see it, now you don’t.

      Your comment that you think BCI is “anti-Catholic” is completely without merit. We would ask that you reread our posts before posting criticism of this nature in the future.

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