Members of the Presbyteral Council voted “to receive” the 2017-2018 budget for the offices of the Diocese of St. Cloud and heard reports about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal and the Encuentro process at their meeting March 28 at the Chancery in St. Cloud.
Joseph Spaniol, the diocese’s finance officer, presented a balanced budget to the council, which is comprised of priest representatives from around the diocese and serves in a consultative role to the bishop.
Budgeted revenues and expenses total approximately $6.1 million for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The budget includes an 8 percent increase for health insurance premiums beginning in January 2018.
The budget still needs final approval from the diocesan Finance Council and Bishop Donald Kettler.
Collections for this year’s Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which kicked off in February, totaled $716,000 as of March 22, Spaniol said. The appeal goal is $1.3 million.
Curt Hanson, director of the diocesan Development Office, told the priests that a second letter asking for contributions to the appeal will be sent in late April or early May to people who didn’t respond to the first letter.
Council members were asked to report feedback about the appeal they received from pastors in their area. Some pastors want the appeal’s promotional materials earlier, and Hanson said he would work to ensure materials for the 2018 Bishop’s Annual Appeal arrive in parishes three weeks before kick-off weekend.
Hanson said his office also is working on a new online system that will allow pastors to check the progress of their parish goals at any time.
Timothy Johnston and Elizabeth Neville, co-chairs of the Diocesan V Encuentro event set for Sept. 24 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, provided council members an update on Encuentro efforts in the diocese.
The fifth national Encuentro is a four-year process of reflection for all Catholics to help discern ways the church in the United States can better respond to the Latino/Hispanic presence and develop future leaders. Parishes and dioceses are invited to participate in the process and collect information for a national Encuentro event in 2018 and the creation of a national pastoral plan.
Johnston, director of the diocesan Worship Office, and Neville, director of the St. Cloud Mission Office, noted that some parishes are hosting study groups around the process in preparation for the diocesan event in September. Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, will deliver the keynote address. Each parish of the diocese is being asked to send a delegation to the event, Johnston said.
In other council business:
- Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, told the priests that the agency plans to hire in the near future for two part-time positions: an immigrant outreach coordinator and refugee outreach coordinator.
- Bishop Kettler offered a brief follow-up report on the 11 listening sessions held in February and March around the diocese in response to 74 claims of alleged sexual misconduct made against the diocese and 31 clergy members under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which ended last May. At the sessions he attended, the bishop said he offered an apology for what happened and invited anyone who has been abused to come forward to receive healing and assistance.
- Council members discussed the diocese’s baptism policy and asked that it be restated for pastors and revised as needed to address special circumstances, including the baptism of foster children and adopted children.
- In his remarks, Bishop Kettler said he and representatives of the diocesan Planning Council will host three sessions around the diocese this summer for priests to give their input for developing a pastoral plan in light of an expected decline in the number of active priests in the diocese between 2020 and 2030.