Archdiocese fully committed to transparency, says Finance Council

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Rick Duenas, member of the Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC), provided an overview of the Catholic schools assessment during the AFC Press Conference held in the St. John Paul the Great Center for Evangelization on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. The Most Reverend Archbishop Michael Byrnes, left, observed the PowerPoint presentation displayed on the screen. (Photo by John Michael Pineda / jpineda@umatuna.org)

Briefing report about costs  of operations, assessments of parishes and schools

By Umatuna Si Yu’os Staff

A press conference was held on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at the St. John Paul the Great Center for Evangelization regarding the financial position of the Archdiocese of Agaña.

Most Reverend Archbishop Michael Byrnes, along with the chairperson of the reconstituted Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC), Richard Untalan, and member Rick Duenas, provided an overview of the current status of the archdiocese on matters such as operating budgets, revenue, and Catholic school and parish assessments.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Michael Byrnes gave an introduction to the Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC) Press Conference on July 11, 2017 and said, “Some of the things that were done and many of the things that were not done in the past¬—we leave it in the past.” In the background (L-R), are Rick Duenas member of the AFC and Richard Untalan, head. Reporters from various news outlets attended the press conferences as well.
(Photo by John Michael Pineda / jpineda@umatuna.org)

Archbishop Byrnes expressed that there were many standards and policies that were lacking or missing regarding the operations of the archdiocese.

“Some of the things that were done and many of the things that were not done… we leave it in the past… What was happening is no longer acceptable here,” the archbishop said during his opening statement. “The Church of Guam… deserves an open and transparent profile and it deserves a chancery and an archdiocese that works at the highest level of effectiveness that we can. That’s our commitment.”

Untalan began by emphasizing that these reports and assessments were not, in any way, directed to the sexual abuse cases or lawsuits.

Richard Untalan, chairperson of the Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC), followed the archbishop and emphasized that the parish and Catholic schools assessments has “absolutely nothing to do” with the sex abuse cases. The AFC Press Conference was held in the St. John Paul the Great Center for Evangelization on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (Photo by John Michael Pineda / jpineda@umatuna.org)

“Let me start by saying one thing that I want to make absolutely clear. The reorganization which resulted in the reassessment of parishes and the imposition of assessment on schools has nothing to do with the sex abuse cases,” said Untalan.

Untalan also mentioned that many policies and procedures are also being updated.

According to Rick Duenas, the archdiocese was at a deficit by at least $160,000 each year for the past six years in parish assessments due to under-collected payments. A Catholic schools assessment was never established and the Office of the Superintendent of Catholic Education was being covered by the Chancery.

The 26 parishes and 14 schools under the archdiocese, Duenas said, were “operating on an independent basis rather than a cohesive unit within the archdiocese and with the Chancery.”

Now, the archdiocese will be projecting a $1,071,026 increase in revenue from parish assessments, $637,056 from Catholic schools assessments, and $110,600 from Catholic school operation student assessments.

These assessments would vary depending on the specific needs and revenues of each parish. Each school would have an annual fee of $25 per student to cover operating costs of the Catholic Schools Office in the Chancery, including the superintendent’s office. They would also have a $12 per student monthly fee which is projected to help increase revenue for the Chancery’s operations.

Each parish school and school is flexible to choose how they may generate funds to pay the assessments.

Although they are behind by about six months, the AFC is looking to update parish and school financial information on a monthly basis, according to Duenas. Ms. Josie Villanueva, the Archdiocesan Finance Officer, along with the finance department have been making visits to all the parishes and schools to provide guidance with reorganizing their finances and taxations, as well as offering help with other aspects regarding human resource management and bringing each school and parish up to date with current accounting and reporting systems.

Duenas also mentioned that the expenses under Evangelization and Pastoral Services are for tuition and stipends for the three seminarians who are expected to transition to the St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California in the upcoming year.

“Archbishop Byrnes, the AFC, the Chancery and this entire archdiocese is fully committed to transparency now,” said Untalan, “Fully committed and we have nothing to hide.”