Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
As you know it has been three years that we, the Vocationist Fathers, have been here. I think you are experiencing and appreciating the spiritual and social upbringing that we have brought to this parish. We have completed a great deal together! I feel this is the right time to give you a clear understanding of the parish’s financial situation.
In 2014, I was planning to join the Air Force as a Chaplain; then I came to find that my superior, Fr. Louis, was asked by then, Bishop Paul Bootkoski (Emeritus Bishop of Metuchen), to have the Vocationist Fathers serve at St. Cecelia’s. Fr. Louis appointed me as Administrator. Upon answering my concerns and questions Father Louis told me that I was going to a wealthy parish with strong buildings, where I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Then the rain came…our maintenance staff was running and placing buckets all over the Church. The entrance of the Church façade was tilting out. It was then that I knew it was not a “HEALTHY” building….needing immediate repairs; a roof, air conditioning system and brick work, etc.
When I arrived I reviewed the financial reports of the parish and came to know we were in a huge deficit of over one million dollars. I realized then that we needed to make immediate changes, as well as assess the long-term needs of our parish. I came to identify that the current bank balance was $74,000.00 and our expenses were $69,500.00. St. Cecelia had an outstanding mortgage of $282,117.00, as well as prior year’s unpaid Diocesan assessments of $1,076,220.00. We started eliminating all excessive expenses such as unnecessary personnel, contracted services and even the Rectory household expenses. I want to make you aware that in the past 3 years St. Cecelia has turned around the day to day financial situation of the parish. After an annual loss of $326,000.00 (in 2014), the parish showed a slight profit of approximately $2,000.00 in 2016.
Additionally, the school expenses were being paid by the Edison Board of Education. The lease agreement between the Diocese and Edison Board of Education gave them the school building rent free for 2 years with the stipulation that they renovate the building, replace the boiler and roof. Any time over the 2-year agreement period the Board of Education was to pay for every 6-month extension a payment of $900,000. They stayed one 6-month period and the Diocese received $900,000. But, that amount was applied to St. Cecelia’s mortgage and a portion of prior Diocesan assessments. I’ve spoken with Bishop James Checchio and one month’s rent of $150,000.00 will be for the renovation of our kitchen in Lourdes Hall; which has already been approved and we are currently waiting for a start date.
As you may have heard, last month we signed a lease with the Woodbridge Board of Education to lease St. Cecelia School for 5 years with renewal options for 25 years. Woodbridge Township is absorbing the cost of nearly $7 million to make all the necessary renovations and to bring the school up to ADA code. The school rent of $450,000.00 per year will ensure our ability to pay off all our debt in the near future, as well as make other improvements as they become necessary to the Church properties. Every year the Diocese assesses us 15% of our ordinary income $88,300.00, plus subsidy for elementary schools $35,400.00, high schools $4,200.00, insurance $92,047.00 and 25% of rental income $112,500.00 which totals $332,447.00.
It is very important that you, the parishioners, realize that your weekly Offertory collection is what will keep the Parish viable and meet its day-to-day obligations. I ask that if you are a regular contributor to please maintain your giving. If you are not a regular donor, please consider doing so as your means permit; whether by using envelopes or through Faith Direct. On February 6, 2023, (in five years) St. Cecelia’s will be celebrating its 100 Anniversary as a Parish Community and we, the parishioners, are proud about our 100 years of history. We appreciate and are grateful for the previous generations for their generosity to make the situation viable to practice our faith. I wish, hope and pray that we continue on the same path for future generations and that the Parish of St. Cecelia is here for another 100 years.
God Bless You,