Home Diocesan News Diocesan CFO values efficiency, accountability and Catholic values
Diocesan CFO values efficiency, accountability and Catholic values Print E-mail
Written by Mary Ellen Pellegrini, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 30 June 2017 14:29

After 25 years in banking, Patrick Kelly was looking for another opportunity to continue utilizing his accounting and finance skills. In December 2008, he found that new chapter when he was hired as chief financial officer for the Diocese of Youngstown – only his second job since college graduation.

Kelly loves the multi-faceted aspects of his current position, he said. “I oversee the accounting function for the central offices but also offer insight in helping our parishes, schools, and other institutions with their bookkeeping and accounting function,” he explained.

With 25 elementary schools, six high schools, and four cemeteries among the diocese institutions, as well as central office administration, there is no typical day for the CFO.

“I can be at a cemetery meeting in the morning, at one of our nursing homes in the afternoon negotiating a contract, and at a parish finance council meeting in the evening, assisting with plans for remodeling or new construction,” Kelly noted.

Whatever the day brings, the Boardman St. Charles parishioner said he tries to practice efficiency, accountability, and a commitment to Catholic values in his job.

Kelly draws from his banking background continually, he said, especially with property management. “When our parishes and schools enter into a banking relationship for construction, remodeling or property acquisitions, I have to review that,” he said.

Kelly’s involvement, however, begins long before the loan application is submitted. “I’m there from the initial concept on through each project.” With projects ranging from several weeks to a year for completion, “we want to guide parishes on the right path financially, [so they can] ask the right questions as they begin planning and develop well thought-out proposals so they can minimize problems, meet their financial obligations and continue their mission,” he continued.

Some factors which Kelly encourages parish finance councils to consider are the total cost, fund-raising strategies, available grants, zoning issues that could occur if an expansion encroaches on a property line or over a utility easement, adequate insurance, proper vetting and bidding, and ways to modify plans when needed to fit the budget.

“We try to encourage open communication every step of the way. We want to prevent problems for the parishes and schools, to be viewed as a resource and a sounding board so they don’t hesitate to call us with any question,” he related.

Both in assisting diocesan institutions and in overseeing the diocesan central offices, the CFO stresses the importance of being good stewards of monies received. “We don’t spend what we don’t have,” he stressed.

The main source of revenue to fund the central offices and support diocesan ministries comes from parish diocesan assessments – eight and a half percent of each parish’s Sunday, Christmas, and Easter collections.

“That’s the baseline that we use to fund lay ministry projects, evangelization, religious education, Catholic schools. Then we build expenses according to the anticipated income,” said Kelly.

The central offices’ secondary source of income is its allocation from the Bishop’s Appeal. Two-thirds of the Bishop’s Appeal collection goes to Catholic Charities, and one-third goes to support other diocesan ministries.

Along with his other duties, Kelly manages diocesan investments, which include the Diocesan Foundation and employee benefits and the priests’ and lay ministry pension plans. The Diocesan Foundation, about 74 separate accounts, encompasses specific parish ministries, school scholarships, priest formation, cemeteries and other entities.

Because the diocese is self-insured, risk management for diocesan facilities, personnel, parish festivals, mission trips and other day-to-day issues also falls under Kelly’s responsibility. “We have to keep money to pay property and liability claims as well as health care claims,” he explained.

Kelly enjoys the wide range of duties and encounters that occur throughout a normal week. “It can be all different types, from parishes to schools to cemetery to administrative,” he said.

The challenge, he noted, is maintaining the high level of programs and services with a somewhat shrinking demographic. Fewer parishes and a decline in the number of diocesan Catholics translates to a reduction in income. “You can’t provide resources unless you have your resources. We try to maintain programs but we do have to be conscious of our personnel costs.”

Evolving technology has aided in managing some of the challenges. Kelly instituted video conferencing to save travel time, standardized the diocesan payroll system to manage the data bases for health care coverage, and computerized records to track parish buildings and real estate to “make sure we insure it properly. [These changes] enable us to be more efficient in how we do things,” he said.

 
 

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