Paisley looks to laity to combat £3 million deficit
Publication Date: 2017-01-27
Hopes are high for innovative new approach to raising diocesan funds
Paisley Diocese has launched an innovative new campaign to try and pay off its £3 million deficit.
The new initiative was announced at all Masses in St Mirin’s Cathedral last weekend with parishioners being invited to become ‘friends’ of various diocesan projects and donate money to help clear the annual shortfall of £300,000.
A letter from Bishop John Keenan which will be read out at all parishes in the diocese in the months ahead said the diocesan finances were in bad shape and a change of culture was needed.
“Our diocese has been running a deficit of £300,000 a year which has accumulated to £3 million over the last decade,” he said. “We have funded this by using up our cash in the bank as well as profits from our cemetery and legacies that have come in. How the deficit has built up is no real surprise. It is the same deadly combination of rising costs and falling income that you know all too well from your own home finances. The number of Catholics attending Sunday Masses in the diocese has fallen by nearly 20 per cent in the last decade and that means less people putting money in the plate.”
Turning the tide
Bishop Keenan said this same scenario is being played out in ‘virtually every other diocese’ in the UK but ‘we want to act on it and turn the tide.’ Rather than bringing in professional fundraisers, he said he wanted to ‘put my trust in you, my own people, and I have every confidence that you will see us right.’ The bishop said he wanted the diocese to be deficit free. “To do this we need to find new savings and income amounting to £300,000 every year and today I am putting before you a simple plan which does just that by: cutting costs, raising parish levies and creating an ongoing fundraising programme.”
He added that the diocese had already found more than 100,000 pounds of savings by methods like using volunteers and renting out idle properties and would find a further 60,000 through a small increase in parish levies.
However the bishop said the ‘bulk of our efforts to eradicate the deficit will come from fundraising and I have appointed Fr Oliver Freney as our director of fundraising with a remit to raise £100,000 every year.’
“The heart and soul of his fundraising campaign will be in a ‘Friends Project’ and this is what we are launching today,” he said.
Friends in need
Fr Freney, administrator of St Mirin’s Cathedral, started his campaign there last Sunday, where he was joined by a team that included around 15-20 young parishioners to encourage those present to become a ‘friend’ of a chosen project within the diocese by making a regular contribution to it.
“If every member of our diocese signed up to give just £5 a year, we would be in surplus,” Fr Freney said. “At the weekend’s Masses, we called on parishioners to sign up to give a regular amount by standing order and would also welcome any cash or cheque donations.”
“I encourage our parishioners to think about our situation and give thoughtfully and generously,” he added. Fr Freney will be personally visiting all parishes across the diocese to encourage parishioners to take part in the new scheme.
Fr Stephen Baillie, the diocesan treasurer, gave vocations, education and youth as examples of projects people could support, and said he is hopeful the money can be raised.
—This story ran in full in the January 27 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.