In the past weeks, I have been dedicating this bulletin article to the topic of stewardship of our parish and facilities. All relevant information can be found in previous bulletins. However, at all masses this weekend I will briefly summarize and explain the situation.
Our parish has generated a significant debt of $316,000 as of July, 2018. We are currently unable to pay all of our expenses so we are operating in a budget deficit. For the past few years we have been generating a debt of about $50,000 per year, which is primarily due to the loss of significant income from our rental properties.
I have worked closely with the Finance Council to form this plan to address these problems. Here is a summary of the plan:
1) Participating in a Parish Turn-Around Project which involves a thorough analysis of our expenses and income.
2) Continue fundraising. Income has increased from the Dinner Dance, Summerfest and Pan American Festivals.
3) Continue exploring ways to reduce expenses beyond what we have already done.
4) Continue focusing on the significance of our weekly income from collections, our main source of income. We ask the faithful to contribute $3-$5 more each week.
5) Considering the sale of our convent with Archdiocesan approval. I will focus on this last point today all weekend masses.
Our convent is not used at all by the parish. Although we do generate some rental income from the convent, it is insufficient to meet our needs. We have been unable to attract additional renters in the convent because the building requires significant upgrades in order to comply with city building codes. We also cannot afford to pay for these upgrades just as the building continues to develop additional problems. The parish cannot sell the building without the permission of the Archbishop of Chicago since the Archdiocese holds title to all its buildings; therefore we seek permission to sell the convent.
The Archdiocese has asked us to consult with the parish in general to show support for this sale. Such support is necessary before a sale can be considered. For this reason, we are conducting a signature campaign at all weekend masses.
The Finance Council and I will be speaking at all the masses this weekend, and then we will ask you to show your support by signing a petition. These signatures will be delivered to the Archdiocesan Office of Real Estate along with a letter asking for approval of this sale. We will then wait for the response of the Archdiocese and continue from there.
The Finance Council and I have been meeting with various groups and individuals to explain this situation and answer questions. If you would like to discuss this with us, you are invited to a meeting on Wednesday, June 26 at 7 pm in the Rectory Pine Room. Our Lady of Lourdes is a prominent parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago and we will do whatever it takes to continue growing and flourishing for many years to come. Thank you for considering this request by signing this petition today at all the masses. If you prefer, you may sign the petition in the rectory until July 1. The Finance Council and I have had many meetings in regard to this plan, but I welcome your comments as well.
Thank you. Please join me in praying for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
Fr. Mike Shanahan