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Statement of James Goodness, Vice Chancellor and Director of Communications of the Archdiocese of Newark
It is important to know that Archbishop Myers' principal residence has always been the rectory of the Cathedral Basilica, where he lives in community with four other priests within the City of Newark. Like Archbishop Myers, both Archbishop Gerety and Cardinal McCarrick used the Cathedral Basilica rectory as their principal residence. Both had also maintained weekend residences as well.
The current weekend residence and future retirement home of Archbishop Myers was purchased in 2002 with funds from the sale of a prior residence at the Jersey Shore, which had been purchased from the proceeds of a house that had been donated to the Archdiocese several decades ago. This former residence was sold for more than the purchase price of the current weekend residence, and the Archdiocese used the remainder of those funds for ministry purposes.
The planned construction is being paid for by donations from individuals specifically given for this purpose and the sale of a residential property that the Archdiocese owns but no longer needs. The sale of this property is expected not only to pay for the construction, but also to provide funds for other ministry uses. Archbishop Myers has received support from the membership of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, a consultative body of lay people with extensive financial experience that advises the Archbishop on temporal matters.
No parishioner funds or AAA contributions are being used on this project. Similarly, no convents, schools or other Archdiocesan buildings are being sold to provide funding for this project.
The Archdiocese does pay real estate taxes on this property. The Archdiocese owns the property and once the home is no longer of service, its future will be determined.
In regard to the Annual Appeal
The purpose of the Annual Appeal is to support the work of the Church in addressing pressing human needs, both spiritual and material.
In recent years, the faithful of the Archdiocese have donated between $10 and $11 million annually to the Appeal. That money has been donated to educate children, help Catholic Charities reach out to the poor, provide programs and support for youth, bring faith programs to young adults in our colleges and to adults in parishes, train men for the priesthood, and care for elderly retired priests.
The Appeal only spends ten percent on administrative costs. This means that ninety percent of the money collected goes to fund programs and ministries. The average spent on administrative costs for US charities is nearly thirty-seven percent.
More than 50 percent of what people give to the Annual Appeal goes solely to support struggling schools and parishes. The rest is directed to other ministry programs.
Over the past five or so years, the schools of the Archdiocese have needed between $13 and $15 million annually to make up for the shortfall between what it costs to run schools and what they generate from tuition and their own fundraising.
Through a combination of Appeal funds and direct Archdiocesan and parish subsidies, we have in most cases been able to meet that shortfall to keep schools open. The lion’s share of this financial support – close to $12 million annually -- has gone to the elementary schools.
Some 64 of the 70 elementary schools of the Archdiocese needed significant financial support during this current year, often in amounts reaching into several hundred thousand dollars, which has come from the AAA.
In addition, the Archdiocese provides a gift of almost $3 million annually to Catholic Charities to help them operate homeless shelters, transitional housing, AIDS ministries, programs for people with cognitive, psychological or physical challenges, job training programs, adoption programs, immigration and legal services programs, elder care and elder housing programs, and programs for people facing economic emergencies.
Another $1 million annually is shared among parishes who reach their donation goals. These funds are especially helpful to struggling parishes.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese has long been the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the state, second only to the NJ State government. In fact, Catholic Charities often administers and conducts programs on the State's behalf because of its experience and 100+ year tradition of excellent service to those in need.
Similarly, over more than a decade, the Archdiocese of Newark provided direct financial support of some $32 million to the Catholic hospitals of Cathedral Healthcare Systems to meet the shortfalls between expenses and revenues. These hospitals traditionally serve the neediest.
In regard to the Archdiocesan Schools
It should be noted that the Archdiocese of Newark and its parishes have long supported Catholic schools even as the number of children attending has continued to decline in recent decades. In 1999, for example, some 56,000 students attended the elementary and high schools of the Archdiocese; in 2013, only 32,000 attended. Yet in recent years, Catholic school financial support has reached almost $15 million annually. Over the past decade, that financial support has totaled $145 million.
Such strong Archdiocesan financial support, however, has not been sufficient to stem closures or consolidations; primarily because single concerted efforts like Lighting the Way had not been undertaken. Today, a majority of Archdiocesan elementary schools require financial support to meet the shortfall between operational expenses and revenue from the traditional sources of tuition, fundraising and donations.
Recently, seven schools that were experiencing declining enrollment will remain open due to the reconfiguration of plant and finance management, as well as marketing efforts to increase enrollment.
Unfortunately, four schools within the Archdiocese that have continued to experience chronic low enrollment and increasing financial needs will cease operating at the close of this current school year in June, despite receiving more than $10 million in direct subsidies from the Archdiocese and the schools’ sponsoring parishes over the past two decades.
When a school reaches a point where the student population is declining, and the sources of financial support -- tuition, fundraising and donations -- also start to decline or cannot be expanded, a school is often left with a hard decision to curtail or eliminate programs and staff so that it can make ends meet. Whenever that happens, the students suffer because the school cannot offer them a complete program of quality. Wouldn’t these students and their parents, then, be better served at a different Catholic school where enrollment is increasing and the outlook for sustainability is stronger?
The Archdiocese recently announced the Lighting the Way campaign, a strategic plan to ensure a strong and sustainable system of Catholic elementary schools within the Archdiocese, is moving forward - in time for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Lighting the Way grew out of a study on the future of Archdiocesan elementary schools by The Catholic Education Commission, a group consisting of more than 30 lay people and Clergy and Religious with expertise in education, parish management, marketing, finance and other fields.
Their examination sought to take the best elements of Catholic elementary education – Catholic identity, local presence with strong participation by clergy and parents in the life of the school and its students, dedicated and knowledgeable faculty and administrators, and individualized attention and creativity – and add the efficiencies of coordinated administration, marketing and governance support.