Parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will begin to pay a new assessment of $2.50 per registered family in support of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education (OCE).
For a parish in the archdiocese with a median 1,787 registered families, the new charge amounts to an additional $4,467.50 per year.
As explained in a memo this month from the archdiocese to all priests and parish business managers, the salaries for the staff of the divisions of Elementary Education and Catechetical Formation in OCE had been assumed by the normal parish assessment until 1993.
The $1.2 million annual subsidy for those offices ended at that time, and the costs were borne by the Archdiocesan Educational Fund, established in 1967 to support Catholic education.
But now, the fund’s leadership “no longer wants to subsidize the work of the Office of Catholic Education,” the memo read. “Instead, the board wants to put its resources into programs at individual educational institutions.”
Without support from the fund and even after two years of staffing reductions, a new source of revenue was needed to pay the projected $982,000 costs for the offices in the next fiscal year.
Secretary for Catholic Education Christopher Mominey presented alternative funding approaches to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who sought the input of the Council of Priests.
At its Feb. 26 meeting the Council voted unanimously, according to the memo, not to add to the archdiocese’s current operating deficit and instead endorsed the plan for the parishes to assume support of the two offices.
Invoices for the new expense, based on 2014 parish registration data, will be sent to parishes in September. The parishes may pay the full amount all at once, or half in September and the balance in the following January.
The invoice is separate from the normal parish assessment which is based on 10.5 percent of the parish’s total annual revenue.
The memo described the functions and staff of both offices. The Elementary Leadership Team in OCE consists of a superintendent, three assistant superintendents, a director of governance and one support staff member. No salaries, nor full- or part-time status of staff, were indicated in the archdiocesan memo.
The team’s functions to support Catholic parish-based and regional elementary schools include curriculum management, standardized testing, professional development, advice on personnel matters, teacher certification, working with new boards and advisory councils on the local levels, and other tasks.
More than 38,000 children are registered in elementary schools of the archdiocese.
The Office of Catechetical Formation employs a deputy secretary, director of Catholic mission and identity, director of youth and young adult ministry, a program coordinator and support staff member.
Tasks include service to non-Catholic students in parish religious education programs (PREP), supporting the pastors and directors of religious education, assisting with personnel and other issues concerning DREs and PREP, providing spiritual and professional development for DREs, managing catechetical certification, running the annual convocation for 800 catechists, assisting with preparation for the reception of sacraments for certain children, and other catechetical tasks.
About 40,000 children participate in parish religious education programs.
In an unrelated memo, the archdiocese announced it has outsourcing its centralized insurance services.
Insurance claims, calculations and billings for parishes, schools and offices are now managed by the firm Porter and Curtis, which has been the insurance broker and adviser for the archdiocese for several years, according to a memo to priests and parish business managers this month.
Risk management will become a focus as Porter and Curtis hopes to “prevent workplace accidents and injuries, as well as reduce claims by preventing their risk,” the memo read, adding the archdiocese hopes to “manage insurance program costs in a prudent fashion.”
Of the three staff of the archdiocesan Office of Insurance Services, two are now employed by Porter and Curtis; the third, Margo Toland, remains an archdiocesan employee and will be liaison with the firm.