Editor’s note: this is a June 2019 article that references Fr. John Nemanic as St. Michael’s pastor. As of Aug. 1, 2020, Fr. John is no longer at St. Michael’s, and the work of the Parish Leadership Council (PLC) has since been concluded.
St. Michael Catholic Community’s first Town Hall, held on June 6, 2019, was a great evening. If you missed the presentation or want to review it, you can watch it below:
83 parishioners heard Fr. John present some of the past year’s accomplishments, discuss the parish financial and pastoral realities, and outline his pastoral priorities for the upcoming year. The agenda included meeting our incoming Parish Leadership Council, interacting with members of the Finance Council, and getting to know our new Director of Operations, Suzy Moutinho.
Parishioners were treated to tours of the refurbished Youth Centre from some of our own UNITE teens and had an opportunity to speak with Society of Saint Vincent de Paul members about their outreach work on the 25th anniversary of their service to the parish. Sandy Leia was pleased to recognise the increased number of people enrolled in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and beginning their faith journey here at St. Michael’s.
A lively Q&A session followed the presentation. The following is a summary of some of the questions and Fr. John’s responses.
- General revenues for 2018 were similar to that of 2017, but the building fund donations dropped substantially. At the same time, our interest expenses increased. Why?
- The interest costs increased due to two factors: the increase in our interest rate and the financing cost of purchasing a new rectory in 2018.
- The importance of paying down the building fund is that by reducing interest expense, we can redeploy those funds to “people and programming.”
- Why add the expense of a rectory purchase?
- When the church was first built, the building committee decided to renovate the existing on-site house to accommodate two priests. At the time it was a temporary measure until that portion of the site was redeveloped to accommodate another building (such as elder care, parish hall or another development).
- With the assignment of a third priest to St. Michael’s in 2017, the Finance Council reviewed the situation. They deemed it an inefficient use of resources to renovate the existing priest accommodation. There were a number of considerations behind this decision:
- The size of the house was insufficient to accommodate a third priest or their guests.
- It would be inefficient to renovate or upgrade it, as the house would be demolished once the permanent building planned for that location was started, which was thought at the time to be within five years.
- Once the Diocese assigned St. Michael’s a third priest, it was necessary to rent a condo nearby with additional monthly rental costs.
- The Diocese recommends priests live off-site to promote a work-life balance.
- Purchasing a home for three priests made fiscal sense by acquiring an asset that could be easily sold in the future.
- With the approval of Bishop McGrattan, a new rectory was purchased in 2018. The former priests’ house continues to be rented at market rates in order to make the best fiscal use of this building until it needs to be demolished in the future.
While the rectory purchase decision was taken with the input of Bishop McGrattan and following the Finance Council’s review and approval, some of those at the Town Hall stated that this decision and its rationale was not well communicated to the broader parish community.
Going forward, Fr. John, the Parish Leadership Council, and Finance Council confirm their commitment to better communicate significant decisions to our parishioners and to clearly explain their underlying rationale. In the meantime, parishioners are always encouraged to reach out to Fr. John, any member of the noted leadership councils, or staff with any questions or concerns.
- With the financial position of the parish being as it is, and with the current recession, why add personnel to the parish payroll at this time?
- Fr. John spoke in detail about how the parish priorities are confirmed by where the community allocates its funds. In our case, decisions to allocate resources to a Youth Minister, an Evangelization Director and a Volunteer Coordinator all show our focus on the importance of these functions. Our strategic plan clearly shows a need to focus on youth, and we know that the surrounding catchment area contains a population where approximately 29% of the population are youth under the age of 19. Fr. John presented some moving testimony about the impact that the UNITE program has had on the teens who attended this past year.
- If you would like to learn more about our youth program, check it out by visiting saintmichael.ca/youth.
- Most people in our neighbourhood work during the day. There is a large amount of activity in the church during the evening, so the evening receptionist allows service to those visiting the church and also gives support to the many volunteers who are there in the evening.
- Additional caretaking staff have allowed us to offer a clean church to ensure a pleasant environment. With so many functions occurring at St. Michael’s, our caretaking staff are challenged to respond to all the demands of setting up and keeping our church looking its best.
- Why not offer reconciliation on Sundays?
- Sundays are the busiest days for priests. At this time, there are no plans to offer reconciliation on Sundays.
- Why not offer a Spanish Mass?
- There are a number of Spanish-speaking parishioners here at St. Michael’s and it would be great to be able to offer a Spanish Mass. We are fortunate to have a Spanish-speaking priest at St. Michael’s right now. However, this could change at any time and it is not reasonable to start a Spanish Mass that we may not be able to do long-term.
- As well, it isn’t possible to offer Mass in all the languages represented by our parishioners. Just seeing the many different nationalities represented at our annual cultural celebration Taste of the World will attest to this!
- When our priests speak another language, they are delighted to offer reconciliation, counselling and other pastoral services in their additional language(s). Please contact the parish office to request these services.
If you missed our presentation, please know that we are working hard to build up the community of faith here at St. Michael’s and respond to the needs of the parish and the wider community. Fr. John is grateful for the incoming Parish Leadership Council and those parishioners who came forth during the Expression of Interest to participate in building up our community.
Any of the priests, members of the Parish Leadership Council, or the Finance Council will be happy to answer any questions or receive input. You can speak in person to them or contact the Leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to learn more about the Parish Leadership Council.