Twin Cities Archdiocese seeks bigger cut of collections

  • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 23, 2013 - 4:25 PM

Catholic leaders are also considering a $165M capital campaign for schools, programs.


The Twin Cities archdiocese wants Catholics to dig deeper into their pocketbooks to support schools and other church ministries.

About one-fourth of the nearly 190 parishes will see their assessments on the collection plate and other income rise from 8 to up to 9 percent; parishes with schools will catch a break on what they have to pay.

At the same time, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is considering a $165 million capital campaign shared with parishes and other partners to pump money into Catholic schools, charities, seminarian education and preservation of the St. Paul Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

The moves come at a time when many Catholics are still upset with church leaders for contributing nearly $650,000 to the campaign for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which failed Nov. 6.

Archdiocesan officials say they’ve been considering the new assessment and capital campaign for years. Critics contend the efforts indicate the church’s political activism has hurt its bottom line.

“The motivation for the archdiocese to do this is that … an independent campaign, they’re fearful it wouldn’t produce the $165 million …. By piggybacking on the parishes they could hope to be more productive,” said Robert Beutel, a St. Paul attorney and co-chair of the board of Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, a frequent critic of the archdiocese.

Revenue from the new assessment formula is to be collected beginning in fiscal year 2015-16, based on parish collections starting fiscal year 2013-14, which begins July 1. The last time the assessment changed was 1999, according to an archdiocesan spokesman.

For parishes that operate schools, the archdiocese will keep the assessment at 8 percent and eliminate assessments on school tuition and income. Next school year, the archdiocese will have 91 schools, most operated by parishes.

More support for schools

“From a financial position, we’re trying to assist those parishes that are contributing to the Catholic schools,” said Tom Mertens, chief financial officer of the archdiocese. “The whole idea behind the assessment change was to simplify, to clarify and then to support Catholic education.”

Income from assessments — which help support the archdiocese — totaled about $14 million last fiscal year. Mertens said he can’t project how much the new formula would raise.

The Rev. Paul Jarvis says the revised formula is a move in “the right direction.” He leads St. Joseph’s in Rosemount, which operates a K-8 school with close to 220 students.

“I know I might be biased as a pastor of a parish with a school, but it benefits all parishes,” he said. “Many of the graduates of our parochial schools will be going on to be worshipers at other parishes, many of which will not have schools.”

By contrast, the St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis fears the assessment may impinge on parish priorities.

In April, the church sent a letter to supporters seeking $500,000 for upgrades to the gym, hospitality hall and other projects before the new assessment takes effect July 1.

“The challenge is that we have a limited time to raise contributions for these improvements so that the dollars will not be subject to the archdiocesan assessment of 9 percent,” according to the letter from St. Joan’s pastor, the Rev. Jim DeBruycker.

Mertens said all parish contributions are subject to assessment, but the new formula will make that more clear.

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