Boston Pastoral Planning Problems

April 30, 2013

As Phase One of the new Boston pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission, is being rolled out, early indicators are that the plan is going to be anywhere from somewhat to highly problematic. This is the plan that will group Boston parishes into collaboratives staffed by a single pastor, with a shared pastoral service team (PST). For a while, BCI tried to stay neutral, if not cautiously optimistic about the plan, but each week as we see and hear more about the rollout, the more concerned we become.

BCI sees multiple problems.  At a high level, they include:

  • Promotion of the agendas and beliefs of those who dissent from the faith, pretending it is part of the “new evangelization”
  • Failure to plan for former pastors who will no longer be pastors
  • Unnecessary reductions in Mass schedules and availability of the sacraments
  • Unresponsiveness to the concerns of faithful Catholics by Cardinal O’Malley, Vicar General Bishop Deeley, and Assistant to the VG Fr. Bryan Parrish
  • Lack of understanding of the key success factors for evangelization (as exemplified by the meeting in Braintree this past Saturday)

It will take many posts for us to go into all of these.  We will start with just a preview of the first two areas today.

As seen here, the pastors for all of the Phase One collaboratives were announced recently:

Pastors of the Phase One Collaboratives

As of last week, all of the Pastors for the Phase One Collaboratives have been named. Each one has responded generously and willingly to implement the Pastoral Plan as Pastor of one of the Collaboratives. We promise them our prayers and support in the days and months ahead. These new Pastors are:

1. Saint Luke and Saint Joseph, Belmont ~ Fr. Thomas Mahoney
2. Saint Mary, Saint Margaret and Saint John, Beverly ~ Fr. Mark Mahoney
3. Saint Mary, Saint Theresa, and Saint Andrew, Billerica ~ Fr. Shawn Allen
4. Saint Mary, Brookline ~ Fr. Brian Clary
5. Saint Mary of the Angels, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Lourdes,
Jamaica Plain ~ Fr. Carlos Flor
6. Saint Mary and Sacred Heart, Lynn ~ Fr. Brian Flynn
7. Our Lady of the Assumption and Saint Maria Goretti, Lynnfield ~ Fr. Paul Ritt
8. Saint Lucy and Saint Monica, Methuen ~ Msgr. William Fay
9. Saints Martha and Mary, Lakeville and Sacred Heart, Middleboro/Rochester
~ Fr. John Sheridan
10. Sacred Heart and Our Lady Help of Christians, Newton ~ Fr. John Sassani
11. Saint James, Saint John, Immaculate Conception and Sainte Anne, Salem,
~ Fr. Daniel Riley
12. Saint Jerome and Immaculate Conception, Weymouth ~ Fr. Joseph Rossi

About 3/4 of the present group of pastors are new to their collaborative. Apparently Fr. Paul Soper, Director of Pastoral Planning, (who had a Voice of the Faithful group at his most recent parish for several years), is driving this and is largely getting his way with the pastoral appointments.  BCI is told they want hand-picked “chosen” ones in collaboratives, so in some cases the normal pastoral appointment process is bypassed and politics kick in.

BCI is going to share brief comments on just one appointment to exemplify our point about promotion of dissident agendas and beliefs–Fr. John Sassani.   He offers yoga in his parish, despite the known objections of the Vatican and risk to the spiritual health of participants. His history of allowing promotion of agendas that dissent from the Catholic faith is well documented in his parish bulletins.  Just take a look at the books his parishioners are encouraged to read in their book club, and see this comment from Newton church-hopper:

BCI you should look closer at Our Ladys. Besides glass vessels for the blood of Christ, look at the kinds of faith formation programs they have.

Our Ladys Book Club was reading “sister” Joan Chittister’s “In Search of Belief” last fall.
http://www.ourladys.com/3communications/12_OLbulletin1117.pdf
Chittister is a dissident nun, 60′s leftist and new-ager, supports women’s ordination, speaks at Call to Action conferences.

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=160011

What an insult to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Fr. Sassani to have “Our Ladys Book Club” reading a book by a dissident nun who disobeyed the Vatican’s request she not speak at a women’s ordination conference!!!!:
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=4090&CFID=32341358&CFTOKEN=68695370

There are many other examples we will have to cover in a future post. Readers tell BCI that Our Lady’s is very much a “new age” type parish–far from orthodox in liturgies and ministries. They are now paired with a parish that had been led by a very orthodox pastor.  All in the Boston Archdiocese should ask why a pastor who allows and encourages his parishioners to read this garbage would now be made pastor of a collaborative. Is this an early indicator for future collaboratives?

Then there is the new problem created–we have too many priests for the available pastor slots, so a number of former pastors are now sitting on the sidelines. 50 priests were forced to resign their roles this spring to make way for Phase 2 collaboratives.  (Normally, maybe 10 pastors change at this time of year, so 50 is a big number). There were 12 open roles for pastors of collaboratives, plus some additional openings not formally a part of the collaborative effort.  Because a lot more pastors were forced to resign from parishes than there are available pastor roles, a number of former pastors now have no place to go. The reasons are varied–some parishes cannot afford a second or third priest, some of the new pastors do not want certain of the former pastors as parochial vicars, some former pastors do not want to now be a parochial vicar, and there are issues and agendas on both sides (whether real or perceived).

To deal with this new problem, sources tell BCI that the office of Clergy Personnel has hired a new psychiatrist to coordinate the treatment of priests’ issues, including those associated with displacement and moving assignments. We are not kidding.

BCI has been praying for the success of the pastoral planning effort in Boston, and still hopes it is successful. But we are beginning to have very serious concerns about execution of the new pastoral plan, and the implications for the typical Boston parish. Readers are invited to share their initial reactions to what they are seeing of the implementation so far.

Advertisements

How Boston Archdiocese Spends and Manages Your Money

February 10, 2013

BCI hopes that all in Boston are digging out well from the blizzard and have power and heat.

With the news Friday that the Catholic Appeal raised $14.2M in the most recent fundraising year–slightly above the $14M goal, and beating the goal for the first time in 3 years–BCI thought it would be appropriate for everyone to see exactly how the Boston Archdiocese is spending donor funds. In addition, it is interesting to see how all of the overpaid folks in the Pastoral Center with excessive six-figure salaries do in keeping to their budget plan.

There are four things that jumped out at BCI immediately from looking at the numbers.

1) Almost 50% of the $35M in Central Operations expenses in the most recent fiscal year were for Administrative costs (“Management and General”)–in other words, other than paying for programs that directly build the Kingdom of God.  Look at page 24 in the 2012 Annual Report.

2012 expenses

To BCI, it seems like $16.8M is a lot to spend in “Management and general” expenses in order to deliver $14.8M worth of programs.  But the Cardinal, the Finance Council, and 16 lay execs paid nearly $4M in salaries and benefits must think this is a pretty good ratio, because they continue to feel comfortable continuing with business as usual at 66 Brooks Drive.

2) The Boston Archdiocese Central Operations overspent their budget plan by nearly 30% in 2012.  They had a budget plan going into the 2012 fiscal year that called for spending $27.8M (see bel0w), and instead they spent $35.3M (see above), an overspend of nearly $8M or 28%.  You can find more details on the 2012 budget plan in this 2012 BCI blog post, including the table below from the 2012 budget plan:

Q. How many overpaid lay archdiocesan executives does it take to overspend a budget by 28%?
A. 16. Paid nearly $4M in salaries in benefits.
How many readers can afford to overspend their household, business, or parish budget plans and survive for very long?  Perhaps if the Pastoral Center paid lay salaries proportionate to what clergy are paid–as the Holy Father’s “Motu Proprio” directs, they might find their executives would be a little more careful with how they spend donor funds.

3) The budget plan for 2013 under new Chancellor John Straub– who said he wants to “maintain transparency and enhance it where we can“–is considerably less transparent than for 2012 (one high-level page vs a dozen pages previously), and shows a lot of money still paying for admin, legal, and fundraising costs, that do not advance the mission of the Catholic Church.

2013 budget

Of  a $27.8M budget, $9.5M is “Administrative services” and if you add that up with the General Counsel and Fundraising, you get $12M of $27M spent on expenses that do not contribute to the salvation of souls. For that matter, one can also argue that $1.6M spend on excessive salaries for Catholic Schools Office staff who do not actually deliver any Catholic education does not contribute to the salvation of souls, but that is a topic for another day.

4) Mr. John Riley, of St. Pauls in Wellesley is listed as a parish fundraising coordinator for the Catholic Appeal. BCI understands from readers that he is the brother of a diocesan priest and is a former private sector CFO. To be fundraising for the Catholic Appeal, surely, he must not be aware of the excessive six-figure salaries, wasteful spending and breach of fiduciary responsibility by the archdiocese.   If anyone has his email contact information, please send to BCI so that we can alert him to the problems and invite his participation in pressuring the archdiocese to solve them.


Fleecing the Flock in Boston

February 4, 2013

As we continue exposing the violation of fiduciary responsibility in the Boston Archdiocese, we wanted to share with you another excellent video by ChurchMilitant.TV, called “Fleecing the Flock.”

Here are some highlights from the Michael Voris video:

[Voris] “The Boston Archdiocese .. which it needs to be stressed, has been a hotbed of dissent and wildly unorthodox treatment of Church teachings .. not to mention the epicenter of the homosexual clergy sex abuse crisis ten years ago .. also, unsurprisingly finds itself over a hundred million dollars in debt. That’s what you get when you depart from the truth – Catholics falling away like snowflakes in a blizzard.

A dozen chancery personnel are each making gross amounts of money for the work they do. The top dog on the list is the secretary for education. This woman needs a wheel barrel to take home her pay each week .. get this .. over a third of a million dollars each year in pay. Compare that to the NY City Superintendent of Public schools .. who only makes $250,000 a year.”

[BCI] Are there published, measurable goals for Catholic schools?  Are they being met?  What is the program and what are the standards for Catholic faith formation in Catholic schools? Why has the excessive salary of Schools Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill increased in recent years? What exactly has she achieved?

[Voris] And as you move down the list of Boston Archdiocese workers .. the numbers .. the gross salaries are nothing if not .. well gross. It’s one thing to make a living wage .. its another thing to be cashing in on dying particular church. 16 people are pulling down nearly 4 million dollars between them in annual pay and benefits.

A little history beyond the numbers here will help. A couple years back when lay people began complaining about the exorbitant salaries being paid .. out of a sense of embarrassment, the archdiocese put together a “committee” to look into it. One gets the sense that this is NOT what Our Blessed Lord meant when He said .. do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

So this committee canvassed other archdioceses around the country and came up with a salary range for each position. It found that many of its workers were on the high end of the range, so in response .. the archdiocese just halted some pay raises.

[BCI] The “committee” is, once again, how Cardinal O’Malley removes himself from responsibility or accountability for fleecing the flock.

[Voris] That people who are working for the Church are in fat cat positions .. whether in Boston or other places smacks of unethical or immoral .. if not down right sinful. Armed with this knowledge .. one begins to wonder if the reason so little actually changes in chanceries all over the country is because those who work in have a VESTED interest .. a REALLY VESTED interest in not rocking the boat.

Why on earth would they rock the boat and risk a quarter million dollar pay check and retirement plan? Another question – Is it even just for people in the Church to be making
that kind of money, when they have so clearly failed, in epic fashion to advance the Church, grow her numbers, heck even hold serve.

The Church is in all out retreat across the country, thousands of parishes closed, many hundreds of schools shuttered, millions having walked away from the faith and yet the
people who operate the machinery and pull the levers are practically laughing all the way to the bank. This situation is approaching spiritually criminal.

The money that goes into these people’s paychecks and retirement plans comes from the faithful and the collection basket. How many are sitting in those pews struggling in a
wrecked economy .. only to be feeding a bloated bureaucracy and not even really aware of it.

And what about the idea of working for the Kingdom, also, primarily being a vocation? Not that a living wage can’t be earned, of course it should be. But isn’t a hundred
thousand dollars a year enough. After all, that’s more than TWICE the average income for a family of four in the United States. Would $75,000 suffice. All over the country .. good hard-working faithful Catholics labor away to advance the truth of the faith .. to help save souls .. to preach the kingdom.

They work in apostolates like this .. I can assure you making NOTHING even approaching those kinds of pays. They work in Crisis Pregnancy centers .. home schooling centers .. new and upcoming colleges committed to the faith .. high schools that had to be started because the Professional Catholic crowd has failed both miserably and spectacularly in every aspect of their job .. other than negotiating their professional sports sized compensation packages.

Just how much does an Archdiocesan Communications director make in NY or Los Angeles, or Philly or Chicago? How about the Human Resources Director or the Education Czar in these places – are they all making massive six figure salaries?

And if they are – where are the results? In the private sector – it is argued, that the enormous salaries are paid because of the person’s expertise and skill and that the
company is growing and raking in profits and the top brass are responsible for that and so they SHOULD be handsomely compensated.

[BCI] Not a single one of the people below, not all even Catholics, will rock the boat. What results are they delivering? Mass attendance continues to drop in Boston, Central Operations is running a $6M annual deficit, the diocese has almost a $140M debt, the financial situation in parishes continues to get worse, and Catholic schools are being closed, yet the salaries remain excessive and some are increasing.RCAB salaries 2012

Whose fault it is? The blame rests ultimately on Cardinal O’Malley, then on Vicar General Deeley, Chancellor  John Straub, and Finance Council Vice Chair Jack McCarthy. Next it rests on all of the “Professional Catholic” and non-Catholic lay executives who have asked for these salaries and are willing to participate in “fleecing the flock” by accepting the fat paychecks. Pastors should be complaining at vicariate and Presbyteral Council meetings and start refusing to fork over their IFRM payments. And the people in the pews need to stop donating to the Catholic Appeal, complain to their pastors and ask their pastors to complain to the archdiocese.


Debt-Ridden Boston Archdiocese Pays Lay Execs $3.7M, Violates Fiduciary Responsibility and Motu Proprio

February 1, 2013

The Boston Archdicoese, saddled with $137 million in debt and operating deficits of $11 million in the past two years, paid their top lay executives $3.7M in salaries and benefits in the past year. They acknowledge many are overpaid, and to add insult to injury, they even gave raises to some overpaid execs last year. This excessive spending on salaries violates the diocese’s fiduciary responsibility to make proper use of donor funds, and it also violates the recent Motu Proprio from the Pope Benedict XVI. Because the Massachusetts Attorney General has oversight for Non-Profits and their use of donor funds, she has reason to intervene.  Meanwhile, Cardinal O’Malley appears to be fiddling, as the fiscal and moral version of “Rome” is burning.

There is enough content here to take multiple blog posts. We will cover as much as possible today and continue in subsequent posts.  That Boston was paying excessive six figure salaries to lay execs has been a public complaint for more than three years. That nothing is being done about it, even with the window-dressing of a “Compensation Committee” formed in 2010 is an even bigger travesty, especially even after publication of the Pope’s “Motu Proprio.” First we cover the “Motu Proprio” and diocesan code of conduct guidelines, then the salaries, the Compensation Committee report, and then examples.

“Motu Proprio

Signed on November 11, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and officially in effect December 10, 2012, the Motu Proprio says salaries need to be in due proportion to analagous expenses of the diocesan curia.

§ 4. In a particular way, the Bishop is to see that the management of initiatives dependent on him offers a testimony of Christian simplicity of life. To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.

Priests in the Boston curia are paid about $41K annually.  How can anyone in the Boston Archdiocese claim that the $300K+ salaries of their top execs are in “due proportion” to the analogous expenses of the diocesan Curia? Here is our December blog post describing the violation.

Archdiocesan Code of Conduct

The diocesan Code of Conduct says:

“Church Personnel will be responsible stewards of the resources, human and financial, of the Archdiocese and any Archdiocesan Affiliated Organization with  which they are associated, observing both canon and civil law, and making decisions concerning the disposition of resources that reflect Catholic social teaching.”

Salaries Disclosed in 2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Annual Report released on Friday, January 18, reports that 16 lay executives are paid more than $150,000 a year, and on top of that, another 10 are paid $100K or more a year. The salaries of the top-paid execs can be found in pages 77-82 of the pdf.  12 of the 16 people paid $150K+ are listed in the report, but it is easy for anyone to determine with high certainty who the other 4 are from the Pastoral Center directory based on titles.  (BCI knows several are paid $200K+ and the others a little less than $200K, so we assumed an average of $200K for their salaries in the table below).  To make it easier for you to see all 16, we have arranged the publicly available data in the table below (click on image to zoom):

RCAB salaries 2012

Compensation Committee Report

The short version of the story here is that the “Compensation Committee” formed in November 2010 to study compensation and address the complaints about excessive six-figure salaries spent tens of thousands of dollars of donor funds and accomplished next to nothing.  Their “report,” if you can call it that, is on page 83 of the Annual Report.  They hired a consultant, AON, to do a study, which probably cost a minimum of $30K.

“We determined that the competitive environment varies by position. Depending on the job, the arena in which we compete for talent includes some or all of the following: other Catholic organizations, other not-for-profit groups, and for-profit organizations. The peer group against which we measure ourselves is tailored for each position. The consultants accessed numerous data bases containing applicable information, and conducted a custom survey of Catholic dioceses. The results of the study are as follows:

a. Six of the senior lay executives are paid between the 50th and the 75th percentiles;
b. Five of the positions have attributes that are unique to our Archdiocese, and are paid comparably to peers in the Archdiocese with similar levels of responsibility; and
c. Five of the senior lay executives are paid above the 75th percentile.

“The Committee believes that, over time, most senior lay executive positions should be paid at approximately the median compensation (or 50th percentile) identified in the salary study, as updated from time to time.”  There is more, but wait a moment.

In other words, a) 6 of 16 people are slightly to somewhat overpaid, c) 5 of 16 people are way overpaid (note, there is no upper limit specified, so some could be off the charts overpaid), and b) 5 other people are overpaid comparably to their Boston Archdiocesan peers who are overpaid, but we justify it based on their “unique attributes.”

Hmm.

Now the “unique attributes” justification:

“There are, however, factors that may require pay at levels that differ from the median, and the amount any particular individual is paid should reflect such factors. These include the nature of an individual’s experience to include the time and performance in the role, the uniqueness of an individual’s qualifications, the scope of the position relative to those included in the salary study, the strategic importance of the position, and the urgency and seriousness of any problems that need to be addressed. All individuals in the group are currently paid at a level that is consistent with our compensation philosophy.”

So, once they determined that basically everyone was overpaid, then they apparently created a “compensation philosophy” to justify overpaying everyone. That philosophy is summed up here:

“Our philosophy is based on the belief that senior lay executives are employed by the Archdiocese to advance the mission of the Church, and that accomplishing this goal requires competent, compassionate, efficient and effective leadership. The purpose of the compensation system is to enable the Archdiocese to attract and retain individuals whose personal goals and achievements are in harmony with the Church’s teachings, and whose motivation, talents and capabilities will assist the Church in achieving its objectives. This means that our pay practices must be: (i) competitive, so that we are able to hire people with the requisite qualifications; (ii) equitable, so that our employees are paid fairly relative to one another; and (iii) realistic, so that they reflect economic conditions in the Archdiocese and in the wider world.”

Without seeing the actual AON study, there is no proof they achieved (i) or (ii) and lots of other evidence they did not, and it is abundantly clear they have not achieved a compensation scheme that reflects the economic conditions in this archdiocese, where 40-50% of parishes cannot pay their bills and Central Operations lost $11M in the past 2 years. They apparently missed the “Motu Proprio” and should go back to work to add a new item “(iv) pay in due proportion to analogous expenses of the Boston diocesan Curia.”

The poster-child for excessive compensation, Mary Grassa O’Neill (see “Up in alms over salaries”), is perhaps the highest-paid lay Catholic diocesan employee in the country, making far more than public school superintendents in New York and Los Angeles who have 10X+ more responsibility. She just had her pay upped from $325K to $341K. Just one more quick example of the evidence they are over-paying is:

Carol Gustavson: Executive Director Lay Benefits: $169,190. A proud ex-Catholic whose previous experience was as a labor attorney for a newspaper. When they slashed lay pensions in 2011, readers reported she was unable to respond to basic questions about pensions in the public meetings. As reported here, she was making $149,999 before her job as Executive Director of HR was reduced by about 2/3 in 2011. Other archdioceses we surveyed said they were not paying their head of HR nearly what Carol was making when she was responsible for HR and paid $149,999–coincidentally, just enough to fall below the $150K limit for reporting in past years.   Jim DiFrancesco is “Director of Human Resources” and Carol is largely just responsible for Pension/Medical Trust (minus the prior work of dealing with plans for 10,000 Caritas Christi employees who now are Steward Healthcare’s responsibility).  A pension/medical plan administrator for an archdiocese like Boston makes around $80-85K.  Amount of excessive pay: $70-80K.  Oh, we forgot, she is also responsible for bringing yoga into the Pastoral Center.

The whole situation is frankly, preposterous.  It will take us multiple blog posts to address the depth of the problem.  Now that the Boston Archdiocese has just finished giving fat raises to most of overpaid people (a topic for the next post), all the Compensation Committee is doing is the following:

At the Committee’s recommendation, no merit increase was granted for FY 2013 to any member of the senior lay executive group whose salary was at or above the applicable median. In the future, compensation should be limited to levels that satisfy our compensation philosophy through tools such as renegotiation of contracts, sunsetting of current pay and/or salary freezes.

In the future?  How about in the present while the archdiocese is $137M in debt (not counting the $50M in lay benefits owed to former employees, off the books entirely now), is running a $6M annual operating loss, and has half the parishes in the red? Why not immediately start reducing salaries by 10% as of 90 days from now, with successive 10% cuts every 90 days until they get overpaid execs where they need to be?

Every Catholic, plus the Attorney General and Vatican should be up in arms about this financial scandal. If you care about the future ability of the Boston Archdiocese to carry on the saving mission of Jesus Christ, click below to send a copy of this blog post via email to the Papal Nuncio  [nuntiususa@nuntiususa.org] the Massachusetts Attorney General Division of Public Charities [charities@state.ma.us] and the Boston Globe [newstip@globe.com].


%d bloggers like this: