R.C. ledger in the black; Diocese up $109,804.
WORCESTER - The Diocese of Worcester - fighting off the downside impact of a sluggish economy - did some penny pinching and managed to turn around its finances during the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31.
An independent audit by O'Connor, Maloney & Co. P.C. of Worcester showed that the local Roman Catholic Church finished last fiscal year with an operating surplus of $109,804 after expenses that totaled $26,037,091.
That's a marked change from last year, when the diocese incurred a $315,690 deficit on expenses totaling $27,016,336.
Diocesan officials said bills were cut by nearly $1 million, thanks to department heads who exercised tight fiscal control over their separate budgets.
Bishop Robert J. McManus said the audit demonstrated that the diocesan officials have been "good stewards" of the donations made directly to the chancery or through the parishes.
Officials, however, said they remained concerned about getting a financial handle on the expenses related to retired clergy.
Despite a generous $450,000 subsidy from Partners in Charity, the annual appeal for the needy, there was a difference of $1,113,125 between revenues and expenses for the retirement programs.
Last year, those programs cost the diocese $1,036,127 over revenues.
As in other dioceses across the nation, more and more Worcester area priests are nearing the mandatory retirement age of 75. There are about 60 retired priests and another 120 in active ministry, officials said.
The diocese provides a subsidy for retired priests that is based on available funding and is primarily derived from parish and agency assessments, as well as Partners in Charity contributions.
In 2011 and 2012, each priest received a monthly stipend of $1,897.
The diocese also pays for certain health care benefits for retired priests.
For example, long-term custodial care expenses are funded by the diocese and an insurance policy.
Currently, the diocese pays for the first 60 days in a skilled nursing facility, with insurance coverage kicking in after that.
"While the trend of deficit spending in the area cannot and will not disappear in the coming year, continued analysis should help us determine a long-range strategy to bring it under control," said the bishop.
Officials said they were encouraged with the management of the Diocesan Expansion Fund, a borrowing resource for the parishes. That account ended up with a $492,965 surplus.
Unlike traditional budgetary formats, the diocese breaks out its financial picture department by department.
Overall, the diocese's assets stood at $99,153,140, compared with $98,268,437 last year.
Meanwhile, liabilities were reported at $69,252,933. In fiscal 2010-11, the diocese had liabilities totaling $69,752,780.
"As we pause to reflect on our operations this past year, it is with the firm resolve to do even more with these resources in the future," said Bishop McManus.
The audit was recently reported in several parish bulletins and is available online at www.worcesterdiocese.org.
The diocese serves about 110,000 Catholic households in Central Massachusetts.