First, we welcome back Cardinal O’Malley. This weekend the Cardinal opens the 2011 Catholic Appeal with Mass at Blessed Mother Teresa Parish – St. Margaret Church in Dorchester on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. He is also celebrating Mass tomorrow, Sunday, March 6 at 9:00 am at St. Michael in North Andover, and then finally at St. Brigid in Framingham on Sunday as 12pm. We think it is very good that the Cardinal is in town visiting parishes and we encourage him to spend more time in the Boston archdiocese visiting parishes and also engaging in governance of the diocese.
Much to our dismay, there is still no word about what was raised in the 2010 Catholic Appeal. The Boston Herald reports “Like last year, archdiocesan officials didn’t set an official fundraising goal because of concerns that parishioners might feel stretched by several ongoing campaigns, including one for school improvements.” School improvements? Is that the Jack Connors’ Catholic Schools 2010 Initiative–the one that was supposed to end last year, where all of the $70 million to be raised was supposedly coming from deep-pocketed friends of Jack? Is that millstone now hanging around the necks of everyone in the archdiocese?
Can anyone get a straight story from this archdiocese about what goal the team of 15 people under Kathleen Driscoll is accountable for hitting? BCI hears the top three people on her team are collectively paid somewhere in the range of about $700k in salaries alone. How can they ask Catholics to give towards the 2011 campaign without ever telling us what they raised in the 2010 campaign?
We said it before and we will say it again about the hypocracy from 66 Brooks Drive. Last November, when Kathleen Driscoll was announced as the new Secretary for Institutional Advancement and the new Boston Catholic Development Services was formed to centralize fundraising, we were all told this new effort would “ensure donors of…accountability.”
For an archdiocese who publicly criticized this blog last August, for “unfounded claims,” it would seem to us that the real “unfounded claim” is that the new archdiocesan fundraising structure would ensure accountability.
If the new archdiocesan fundraising efforts are characterized by “accountability,” then why is it that no one is accounting for what they have raised for the Catholic Schools 2010 Initiative or the 2010 Catholic Appeal? Exactly who is this fundraising group accountable to, and if they are not accounting to donors in the pews before they open their hands and ask for more money, who exactly are they accounting to?
Sorry, we got so wrapped up in the Catholic Appeal, we almost forgot the other welcome home.
Secondly, welcome back to Fr. James Flavin and Fr. Michael Medas, who just returned from a
boondoggle conference in New Orleans. They were attending the 2011 convention of the NOCERCC. For those not familiar with the organization, it is the National Organization for the Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy.
In case you do not know some of these names, here is who these people are:
- Father Flavin has a degree in counseling who has been director of pastoral care of priests since 2008. That means he primarily oversees treatment plans for priests with psychological problems including substance abuse, and as best as we can tell, he is liked and respected for his work in this area. However, the archdiocese also asked him since 2008 to oversee the Clergy Retirement Fund, even though he had no specific financial training or qualification for that function. To say the fund’s performance in recent years has not been good is an understatement. Then Carol Gustavson, who also had no skills in that area, got involved helping. Now Joe D’Arrigo, a consultant who has been trying to stabilize the fund, has just been officially named Executive Director, Clergy Funds. Fr. Flavin is no longer the fund facillitator, but maintains his role as director of pastoral care of priests–a very important role. We wonder how the trustees of the fund would grade the fund performance since 2006. Coincidentally, it may not matter anyway because the trustees have now changed, but that is a topic for a different post.
- Fr. Medas is Director of the Office for Clergy Personnel. According to this Pilot article, he was formerly director of the Apostolate for the Deaf and has lived in residence at parishes, including Our Lady Help of Christians, Newton, St. Mary, Ayer and at Holy Family Parish, Concord.
The NOCERCC and their convention are interesting when one digs a little deeper. Here is a look at the 2011 NOCERCC convention schedule and here are the related links from the NOCERCC website to other websites. We will leave it to you to reach your own conclusions after checking it out further. Suffice to say, we need to pray for our priests.
The conference, coincidentally, took place just before Mardi Gras, when a number of pre-Mardi Gras parades take place. The Loews New Orleans Hotel is “within easy walking distance of…the French Quarter” and cost $149/night for a room. Conference registration cost for members was $500 per person. Assuming the priests from Boston are NOCERCC members, the trip probably cost somewhere around $3,500 for 3 nights, 2 people, with airfares, conference registration and meals. Last July, when the archdiocese cut 20 positions to save money and Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson said, “Nearly all travel and conference budgets have been reduced,” some of us thought the archdiocese was actually trying to save money. Apparently we misunderstood the memo.
So, a hearty welcome back to Boston to Cardinal O’Malley. We sincerely hope you will be in town for a little while now and can work on reducing spending on excessive six-figure salaries. And welcome back to Fr. Flavin and Fr. Medas. We hope and pray that the learnings from the convention and benefits to the Boston presbyterate will pay off the expense many times over.