The Diocese of Rochester’s 2002-03 financial statements tell two stories — one about the success of the Partners in Faith capital campaign and the other about mounting fiscal pressures faced by the diocese, according to James M. Rinefierd, chief financial officer. A condensed version of the audited statements appears as a supplement to the Catholic Courier monthly edition for April, 2004.
Pastoral Center operations posted a surplus of $159,874. The diocese posted an overall deficit of $489,650, a sharp contrast to the previous fiscal year’s deficit of $9.3 million .
Partners in Faith’s success contributed to the fiscal improvement, Rinefierd said. The campaign — which had raised $11 million by the end of the diocese’s fiscal year in June 2003 — exceeded its $50 million goal by 10 percent, he noted. The campaign will fund endowments for Catholic schools, Catholic Charities and faith formation. Proceeds also will go toward parish projects, enhance the priests’ pension fund, and finance the renovation of Sacred Heart Cathedral and the construction of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry’s new facility.
Yet Rinefierd cautioned that the diocese continues to face mounting financial pressures, including declining proceeds from the Thanks Giving Appeal. Each fall since its inception in 1981, the TGA has solicited donations from Catholics throughout the diocese. It is the diocese’s primary fundraiser, providing approximately half of the annual budget. In 2003 the TGA was rolled into the Partners In Faith campaign, but the appeal will be reinstated in the fall of 2004.
Pledges to the 2002 TGA fell 8 percent short of the appeal’s $4.931 million goal, Rinefierd noted. That shortfall, coupled with investment losses and rising health-insurance costs, forced the diocese to lay off nine employees in April 2003.
Rinefierd noted these other highlights of the financial statements:
- Investment losses declined significantly in 2002-03 compared to results from 2001-02, when the diocese posted a net investment income loss of more than $4 million. Investment losses for 2002-03 were $530,432, a figure that reflected rebounding in the stock market during the fiscal year, Rinefierd said
- The diocese’s self-insurance fund presents a particular challenge. The costs of insurance policies have climbed 20 percent per year in each of the last three years, he said, and the diocese has been forced to increase its deductibles for property claims and worker’s compensation to soften the blow. During the mid-’90s, Rinefierd added, investment returns on the insurance fund generated an average of $1.2 million per year, but in the last three years, the insurance fund suffered investment losses totaling $1.2 million. Additionally, claim expenses increased an average of 22 percent per year in the last two years.
- Rinefierd said the diocese has increased premiums charged to parishes by 30 percent over the last two years and encourages claims control through more vigilant maintenance of facilities.
He emphasized that rising insurance costs were not produced by the sexual-abuse scandal, noting that the diocese has paid out a total of $600,000 since 1992 on claims related to sexual abuse, as opposed to $14.2 million on all other claims during the same period.
- The cost of priests’ pensions also is rising, Rinefierd said, noting that the number of retired priests has grown 40 percent over the past 10 years, from 74 in 1993-94 to 103 in 2002-03. Over the same period, the cost of funding priests’ pensions has risen 97 percent, from $571,000 in 1993-94 to $1,127,000 in the past fiscal year, he said.
Rinefierd said he foresees further improvement for 2003-2004, and encouraged diocesan Catholics to support the TGA’s return this fall. “The appeal is critically important in allowing the diocese to conduct its work, and provide ministry and support to parishes, schools and agencies,” he said.
Rinefierd said the complete financial statements are available on the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org.