SAFE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM
Archdiocese of St. Louis Safe Environment Program
The purpose of the Safe Environment Program is to create a safe environment for our children. All volunteers are required to comply with the Procedures developed to implement the policy.
September 4, 2019
I have some important information to share with you, as well as a vital request. Please read this letter in its entirety and prayerfully consider what is being asked of you.
During the month of August, the Archdiocese conducted a financial audit of Immaculate Conception Parish and Holy Child School (which is the standard practice when a new pastor is installed). The audit includes an examination of both our finance practices (how money is collected, recorded, disbursed, etc.) as well as the financial state of the parish and school. The auditors found that we have done a good job of coming into compliance with Archdiocesan policies with the handling of money. These policies are designed to protect a parish and school from fraud, theft, or misappropriation of funds. They are fundamentally a protection of our assets.
But the auditors also conducted a thorough review of the financial state of our parish and school. Our parish has been running on a balanced budget, although somewhat frugally (breaking even, but barely). That is the good news. Regarding Holy Child School, the auditors identified a serious problem, and it involves our parish subsidy to Holy Child School. (The parish subsidy to the school is the amount Immaculate Conception gives to Holy Child School each year to help the school meet its operating expenses.) The auditors tell us that Immaculate Conception parish must immediately increase its annual subsidy to Holy Child School by 101,000 dollars or the school will be operating at a severe deficit for its current fiscal year. This will affect rather seriously our ability to meet our expenses. That is the purpose of this letter to you.
Before I explain how we can meet this need, I will first explain how we got there. As it turns out, for the past fifteen years, the parish subsidy to the school has been too low. It should have been increased incrementally each year at a higher rate than it was. Both the subsidy and the tuition were able to remain relatively low each year because every time the school faced a deficit, it would suspend the school assessment payments to the Archdiocese. (Both parishes and schools are assessed or “taxed” by the Archdiocese in order to pay for Archdiocesan services to both institutions.) For fifteen years, this was a cycle: the school would be in the black and pay the assessments, which would then drive the school into the red. The school would then suspend payments, sometimes for long periods, in order to be in the black. As a result, we currently are in arears with the Archdiocese by 53,000 dollars (which accrued over many years). Had the parish subsidy been properly adjusted each year, the assessments would have been paid and the school would have had enough money to meet its operating expenses. But that was not the case. We must now adjust the annual subsidy each year to reflect the actual cost of having a parish school.
I would first like you to know that for some time now the parish has resumed our assessment payments to the Archdiocese because it is the right thing to do. Thanks to Elaine Phillips, our parish bookkeeper, we recently received an Archdiocesan matching grant for payments on past defaults. It is a small consolation that there are other schools and parishes in much worse shape, with unpaid assessments of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Adding to our current need to increase our annual parish subsidy to the school is the fact that education costs have gone up. We have an excellent school faculty, good programming, and a decent building, but our subsidy is not enough to adequately cover the costs. While we can look at how to reduce costs, there isn’t much to reduce during our current fiscal year. We have one class for each grade level on the school side, and, with the departure of Claudia Anderson, we are down to a secretary and a bookkeeper on the parish side. We share a maintenance man and a religious education coordinator. So the lion’s share for now will have to come from an increased subsidy.
I know this is a lot to ask, but my request is this: whatever you are currently giving to Immaculate Conception Parish, please increase your giving so that we can increase our subsidy to the school. As I said before, on the parish side, we are breaking even, but barely (and that includes our current subsidy to the school). We can only increase our subsidy to the school by an increase in your already-generous giving. While a 101,000 dollar increase sounds like an incredible amount, we will be able to do it if people are willing to help. If 200 parishioners increase their giving by ten dollars a week, we will have met our goal to subsidize the school. If 100 families increase their giving by twenty dollars a week, we will have met our goal. I’m sure there are also some very generous people who will give far more than that, and both I and the people served by Holy Child School will be grateful. And even if you are not directly connected to Holy Child School, your gift will benefit the parish which subsidizes the school, since it is our responsibility to meet that need.
On our parish website there is now a link where you can make a one-time donation to the parish subsidy to the school (it is a restricted account and the money cannot be used for other purposes). We will also be doing the financial portion of our stewardship appeal this coming weekend (September 7-8) and you will have the opportunity to pledge how much you will be increasing your financial giving to the parish. If you wish to pledge your entire increase in giving to the parish subsidy to the school, then please specify it on your pledge card and then in your check memo, designate which amount is unrestricted (used for parish operating expenses or some other purpose) and which is intended for the subsidy to the school. (If you do online giving, you can set up recurring payments for the subsidy in addition to your regular giving). Finally, beginning in October, there will be a specific envelope in your envelope labelled “Parish Subsidy to Holy Child School.” My hope is by November 1, we will have received enough pledges and immediate donations to cover the cost of our additional subsidy to the school.
There is on important aspect in my request to you: whatever your current parish giving, the additional pledge for the parish subsidy must truly be additional. If you simply transfer your current giving amount to the subsidy for the school, then we will be robbing Peter to pay Paul and the parish (and eventually the school) will be thrown into a deficit. The well-being of both Immaculate Conception Parish and Holy Child School are intertwined. If one is in crisis, then both are. Anyone who supports the parish but not the school, or the school but not the parish, does not understand the reality of the situation. We have to be strong together in order to support one another.
I believe that certain measures need to be taken in order to avoid such problems in the future. As pastor, here is what I am proposing:
I know this is a long letter, and it is not the happiest of news. I’ve only been pastor here for a year and while I love it, this is the part that is hardest for me. It is very difficult to make this sort of request. But it is also inspiring for me, because I know how many of you will respond beautifully and generously. Please know that you are in my prayers, and even on days like this, I am so grateful to be part of your lives.
Our twice-yearly church inspection was completed by Rich Kwiatkowski of SSC Engineering. He reported no change in the condition of the church from the November 2018 inspection. (In fact, for the past few inspections, there has been no discernable change.) While this doesn't mean that we don't still have the same issues we had before, it does mean that we are currently in a "static" period where there is not rapid deterioration. Barring the level of high winds or seismic event that would damage most 19th century structures, we still have some breathing room while we, along with the Archdiocese, engage in regional pastoral planning.
Please click on the link below for the Daily Mass Readings:
The Most Blessed Sacrament is not a relic or a memory,
it is Jesus Himself. He is all-powerful, all-loving, all-perfect
and anxiously waiting for us to visit.
All the treasures and wonders of this world are nothing
compared to Who we find in Adoration. Will you reserve an hour
on the first Friday every month to be with Jesus between 8:30 am and 6 pm?
26 WAYS TO SPEND AN HOUR WITH JESUS
1. Slowly read Sacred Scripture until something hits you. Then LISTEN. (Lectio Divina)
2. Pray the Holy Rosary.
3. Let God look at you and love you—unconditionally.
4. Tell Him something that made you happy. Then LISTEN.
5. Tell Him what you are afraid of. Then LISTEN.
6. Tell Him what angers you. Then LISTEN.
7. Speak about your loved ones.
8. Pray for an enemy.
9. Talk with Him about work.
10. Sing a song for Him in your heart.
11. Promise to trust Him.
12. Imagine Our Blessed Mother or one of the saints sitting next to you and praying with you.
13. Renew your loyalty to His Church.
14. Lean on Him. Tell Him you love Him.
15. Thank Him for the Sacraments.
\16. Tell Him your failures. Ask for help. Then LISTEN.
17. Slowly recite the Beatitudes.
18. Pray one Our Father slowly.
19. Pray one Hail Mary slowly.
20. Pray the Creed slowly.
21. Pray for the Sanctification of Priests and Holy Vocations.
22. Ask Him to show you the next step.
23. Look at yourself. Count your gifts. Then thank Him.
24. Ask Him to show you if you have hidden any talents, and to help you use them in a way that pleases Him.
25. Pray for the world.
26. Enjoy just being in His presence and in His peace
Online Giving is a great way to help your
administrative staff while supporting our church.
Signing up is easy - you can use a computer, tablet,
The following is our recently completed Feasibility Study. This report demonstrates that our parishioners are very excited and supportive about the New Church. The big obstacle will be paying for it.
With the help from the Holy Spirit and through the guidance of our building committee we will get the job done.
God Bless you.
-Fr. Larry Huber