BY Peter Diamond | July 19 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4-accounts

‘Transparency is the key’ to healthy Church finances, says Paisley Diocese treasurer

Transparency is key to healthy church finances, the treasurer of Paisley Diocese said as new accounts for 2017 revealed the diocese has reduced its deficit.

Fr Stephen Baillie, diocesan treasurer, said: “In this day and age transparency is key, and I think more and more people want to know where exactly their money goes.

“These documents reveal the cost of day-to-day running of the parishes in the diocese and it often shocks people just how much things can cost.”

 

Diocesan funds

According to the report, at December 31 2017, Paisley Diocese’s total funds amount to £17,922,915 compared to £17,340,904 in 2016.

The deficit in curial unrestricted funds was £149,172 compared to £1,661,837 in 2016 and the annual spend is £537,000.

The Trustees addressed the deficit by transferring £1,000,000 in 2017 from the designated cemetery fund and £1,000,000 from the designated retired priests fund to the curial unrestricted fund.

Accounts for all parishes in the diocese have now been published online.

 

Clearer picture

Fr Baillie, parish priest at St Joseph’s Church Clarkston, said a new financial approach has helped ‘paint a clearer picture.’

“I’ve been the treasurer for three years and it is quite a demanding role. I would say but there is great support within the diocese and from Bishop John [Keenan],” Fr Baillie said.

He added that fundraising is ‘a big part of the plan to reduce the current deficit and become more cost effective.’

 

Informing the people

“It’s often good to make people aware of the costs facing a diocese and expenses that people all add up,” he said.

“We have recently moved to Sage [software] rather than Microsoft Word which has given us faster and more efficient access to updating accounts, which is great because it lets us get on with our pastoral duties.

“Previously the accounts from each parish had to be handed in every six months but now they’re handed in every month so it helps develop a clearer picture, quicker.”

 

Campaign

 

In January 2017 a campaign was launched within the diocese to help reduce the deficit and annual shortfall of £300,000.

Bishop John Keenan revealed at the time that the 10-year shortfall had resulted in a £3 million deficit for Paisley Diocese.

The number of Catholics attending Sunday Masses in the diocese has fallen by nearly 20 per cent in the last decade, reducing funds.

The latest report revealed that Mass attendance among Catholics in Paisley Diocese is 22 per cent.

 

Bishop’s house

The report also reveals that the Trustees transferred £300,000 from the curial unrestricted fund to the designated Bishop’s House fund to allow a future bishop the option of purchasing a new bishop’s house.

Currently Bishop John Keenan is living in St Fergus’ Church Paisley along with parish priest Fr John Morrison.

Fr Baillie said: “The money from the sale of the bishops house has been ring-fenced and it will be there for any future bishop who wishes to buy a residence.”

 

Religious atmosphere

Under the ‘plans for the future’ section of the report the ‘general assessment’ of the diocese was that: “The general religious atmosphere in the diocese is positive and this is a hopeful sign, even amid secular times that are continuing to dissipate a sense of Faith and the value of religion in society.”

Within the ‘general diocese plan’ it was highlighted that ‘the priests are faithful to Christ and to the Church.’

 

Good shepherds

It adds: “They are good shepherds to their people and are well-regarded by them.

“Even though worn by physical and ministerial tiredness they have adapted well to being fewer in number than previously, even if this means a greater pastoral burden.

“There are no significant discipline problems among them. There is no evidence of harmful extremes of doctrine or of liturgical practice.

“There is a good spirit among them, something which can be seen in their spiritual, liturgical and social gatherings, and in their relationships with the bishop.

The positive spirit of the diocese is due in large part to the positive spirit among the priests.”

Fr Baillie added: “Ultimately our job is to try and spread the Gospel and Good News.”

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