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THE LAWSUIT HAS ENDED!

In January 2015 I filed a lawsuit against the Bishop and Diocese of Orange, the parish of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, California, and the pastor Rev. Brendan Manson.

The lawsuit has now been settled and dismissed.

I had hoped that during the settlement discussions there would  come a moment for Bishop Vann, The Diocese and Fr. Manson to recognize that the INSTITUTION had become more important to them than the people; that the CLERGY have put themselves above the laity.

This site is about Church and clergy accountability, transparency and collaboration.

What you will find on the following pages is how the institutional church can become so consumed with its own preeminence that hierarchy and clergy can justify spending millions of dollars of parishioner contributions with a total disregard for the wishes and concerns of the laity.

There are sections below that explain the background and my thought processes and rationalization.

A PREAMBLE

This site is intended to explain why I filed a lawsuit against my Bishop, parish and pastor. To explain why I believe that misuse of the monies contributed to our parishes are not the personal assets of the hierarchy and clergy. To explain why it is necessary for our Church to be open and transparent about the temporal goods of the Church and collaborative in the ways in which our donations are spent.

I am a Roman Catholic. Although I am a “cradle” Catholic, my faith is founded upon my own journey of examination, introspection and study. I spent almost eight years in the seminary and have more than an average layman’s training in scripture, theology and philosophy. I believe that the Catholic Church is the authentic repository of Christian faith that dates back to the founding of the Church by Christ and his apostles. I accept the Nicene Creed as the definitive statement of Christian belief.

Having said that, I recognize that the “institutional” church is administered by people, who like Peter the Apostle, are flawed human beings. The humanness that embraces us all has been the source of great abuse and scandals through the centuries. And yet, despite us, the Church has survived and still proclaims the truth of the Gospels.

As faithful we are part of the Body of Christ. Christians called by name in baptism to journey on the road with Christ to the Father but also to participate in the ministry and mission of the Church. In baptism and confirmation we are given certain charisms by the Holy Spirit that we are entrusted to use for the benefit of the whole Body. We the faithful have been entrusted with the life of the Church as just as much as the clergy. And yet, we have, over the centuries surrendered our obligations to the clergy. (The Holy Spirit, in the variety of his gifts, unites us and enables us to contribute to the building up of the Church in holiness. In this great work, each of us has a part to play; each of us, as a “living stone”, is needed for the growth and the beauty of God’s holy temple. Let us ask the Lord to help us to take an ever more active part in the Church’s life and mission, guided by the Holy Spirit and with Jesus as our cornerstone. (6/26/13-Pope Francis)

The sacramental priesthood is a privilege given to some to act on our behalf to administer the sacraments and to preach the Good News. In the early Church that was their primary function. Beyond that, the whole Body engaged in the "works" of the Church and tended to the spiritual and temporal needs of the community.

The great commission of Christ was: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you". This in essence was the nature and intent of the Church that Christ established.

As the Roman Empire began to disintegrate, the Church moved to fill the gap. Western civilization survived because of that intervention. But it also created a new role for the Church far from the original concepts of the Church that Christ intended. The Church became rulers, landowners, builders and warriors. We persecuted heretics, sent armies to conquer recalcitrant kings and princes, we built great temples and monasteries. And we acquired enormous wealth.

By the early Middle Ages the Church was the wealthiest and most powerful organization on earth. Hardly the vision of a Savior who called us to care for the sick, the lame, the poor. An odd interpretation of going forth to make disciples of the nations and teaching the Beatitudes!

But once headed down that road, it is hard to turn back. Power and money are the greatest drugs known to man. And so today, we continue to be challenged as a church by the fierce hold that our hierarchy and clergy exert over the temporal goods of the Church. Their perception is that they are empowered by Christ to be in control of the money and property of the Church to the exclusion of the laity who contribute those resources. Their perception that great buildings, expensive liturgical elements and grand projects are at the core of their ministry.

"We are not the expression of a structure or of an organizational need: even with the service of our authority we are called to be a sign of the presence and action of the Risen Lord; thus to build up the community in brotherly love" Pope Francis. (5/23/13)

Good Catholics, active and engaged Catholics will not be surprised by what they read here. Financial abuse by clerics within the Church is common. It will continue until the laity demands change. This is about us, about Church, our Church, Christ's Church. We the People of God have to take some responsibility for it. It is about building the kingdom of God on earth, not the kingdom of the church on earth, we will once again become a light unto the world.

"Being the Church does not mean managing, but rather going out, being missionaries, taking the light of faith and the joy of the Gospel to people." (Pope Francis).

This site is about all that, encapsulated in the story of one parish.

THE REAL STORY OF THE RENOVATION

The lawsuit came about because of the renovations. There were several issues that created a significant outcry from many in the parish: 

  1. An enormous amount of money was going to be spent on a project that most people thought should only be maintenance.
  2. Many wondered where the money for such a large renovation came from.
  3. When it became clear that there was to be significant alterations to the appearance of the church building, including a highly controversial “retablo” that would block out a significant portion of the ocean view and sunlight, the backlash escalated.
  4. Six million dollars was hidden away in bank accounts that we did no know about.

(Original design)

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(New Design)

newdesign

Because none of this had been put before the parish as a whole when the plans were first devised, there was not just dismay but anger. Spending money that we did not know we had, in a huge amount, for a project that many people did not want, became a catalyst for a pushback against the entire plan.

In October of 2014, an announcement was casually placed in the bulletin that the Finance Council had approved at three million dollar budget for renovations and that a project had been put in place that would actually cost 2.3 million dollars. No specifics were offered at that time and no renderings of what the changes would look like (see Exhibit 3).

As the intentions of this project became known, Fr. Brendan began to get feedback from many parishioners questioning every aspect of the project from scope to cost. Opposition began to grow and Fr. Brendan was not unaware of it as he hurried to put statements in the bulletin over the next two months to try to answer the questions or to quell the opposition (see Exhibit 4).

The problem for Fr. Brendan was that most of the project had been set in concrete long before the disclosures were made. Had that not been the case, it is assumed that prudence would have guided Fr. Brendan to hold off until the parish had a chance to see everything and offer feedback.

The root of the whole problem is the fact that millions of dollars had been hidden from the parishioners. Without that fact, none of this would have occurred! In essence a simple game of deception brought about enormous consequences (see Exhibit 5).

I say this because the normal method for finding money for a major capital expenditure is not from hidden bank accounts but from a capital campaign within the parish. To do that, it requires that the proposals be put forward to the entire parish along with renderings of the project, as an inducement to put up extra money. In that process, comments would have come forward that likely would have altered the scope and cost of the renovation.

But when money is not the issue, when no one is being asked to dig into their pockets, the process changes. Then, the input of the laity is no longer required and the clergy have free reign to do whatever they want. And spend as much of the play money as they want.

Involved in all this was the Bishop. It was an opportunity for him to put his own imprint on the church and so he came down several times to review the project and offer his own vision, which included the Retablo. That sort of hands on by the Bishop was unusual and gave impetus to moving the plans along without consultation with parishioners. A sort of “look what a great job we have done with millions of dollars of your money!”

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, so whether this design is worse or better is not the issue here. Many people like the change. That's fine. THE ISSUE IS, DID IT NEED TO BE CHANGED AND IF SO DID IT NEED TO COST ALMOST THREE MILLION DOLLARS? AND DO WE THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT THE PARISH GET A SAY?

Next is a summary what these renovations cost. It is important to understand that there has been a concerted attempt to disguise the actual costs by separating out the projected costs from those imposed by the City as part of the new construction requirements. When we were told of the costs of the renovations, no mention was made of the fact that a major remodel would also require upgrades based upon current construction guidelines for the City.

Later, when this lawsuit forced a final accounting to be published in the Bulletin, there was an attempt to claim credit for staying substantially within the budget and only acknowledging the ADA and City upgrades as some sort of different cost that was somehow not a cost of the renovations (see Exhibit 22). Further, that same publication misstated the amounts already spent on the add-on for the contract(see Exhibit 7).

The fact is that long before the project was started, a report had been done by a consultant group that laid out the potential ADA requirements and City permit requirements, along with the potential cost (see Exhibit 8). The Diocese and Parish knew about this report and yet as they planned their budgets and money reserves, NO PROJECTION of those additional costs were put into the budget or disclosed to the parish.

THE ITEMIZATION

  1. There was NO competitive bidding on over 1.2 million dollars of furnishings.
  2. Costs of Liturgical Furnishings far exceeded the recommendations given by a professional consultant in a report that cost $100,000.00
  3. A tabernacle that cost $87,000.00!
  4. ​$800,000.00 of ADA requirements were NOT factored into the costs of the renovations. Several documents were available to inform them of these costs.
  5. The actual costs have been hidden from us until the lawsuit forced the parish to  publish them.
  6. $150,000.00 in professional studies that we have paid for were largely ignored.

Let’s look now at what this all cost! Perhaps to some it is no big deal. A beautiful church takes lots of money, so what’s to complain about?

​Perhaps one thing to complain about is that there were no competitive bids for the pews or litugical furnishings. Instead it seems that the vendor was given a blank check to design and produce over one million dollars of furnishings. This is an extraordinary way to do business! And irresponsible. There was lots of money in the bank accounts so there was no reason to spend time and effort to see if the items could have been purchased at a lower cost.

The folder for Liturgical furniture gives the the full breakdown of the itemization of the liturgical furnishings (see Exhibit 10).

The following are JUST
the highlights!:

This column is the recommended amount
from the study done in 2013:

Presider’s Chair $8,400.00
Presider’s Table $2,800.00
2 Deacon’s Chairs $11,400.00
Altar $35,400.00
Retablo $199,720.00
Altar Candles (4) $22,400.00
Processional cross $9,650.00
Base for cross $1,900.00
Baptismal Font $150,000.00 (including labor)
Stations of the Cross $47,600.00
Tabernacle $38,000.00
Baldocchino $49,000.00

$3,000.00
$1,250.00
$4,750.00
$22,500.00
Not recommended
$8,750.00
$6,750.00
not given
$97,000.00
Not recommended
$25,000.00
Not recommended

In case you were wondering what a “baldocchino” is, every major basilica in the world needs one, and if we were a major basilica, we would too!

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At a meager $49,000.00, ours is not so ornate. Just ostentatious. And conceptually out of place for the modern design of our church (see below).

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​If I seem cynical about these costs, I am! $600,000.00 for new pews. $636,000.00 for new liturgical furniture. Yet the lighting did not get fixed nor did the old failing air conditioners get replaced. Those were maintenance items, that is what maintenance funds are for. In fact, the lighting, which was part of the original cost estimate (see Exhibit 11) was apparently abandoned in order to keep the escalating costs within budget.

We were told that the old pews needed new upholstery and required periodic cleaning. In the documents that I have received, I did not see any quotes for the cost of reupholstering the pews. I do not believe one was ever obtained. If it had, it is unlikely that it would have cost more than $150,000.00. There is an earlier assessment in 2013 (see Exhibit 12) that estimated the cost of refurbishing the pews at around $160,000.00 or replacing them for $205,000.00 but that costly analysis was ignored.

WHAT HAPPENED HERE IS SIMPLE: THE CONTRACT FOR THE PEWS AND FURNITURE WAS GIVEN TO ONE VENDOR, WITHOUT BIDS OR OTHER COMPARISONS. IT WAS A LICENSE TO CHARGE WHATEVER THEY WANTED WITHOUT A COMPETITIVE BID OR NEGOTIATIONS.

The real question here is, did we need all this? Was it so bad in design and function that a few tweaks and fixes could not have been sufficient? New liturgical designs like to have the presider chair down near the altar. But those designs change with every new crop of liturgists. There are some 60 parish churches in Orange County. No one is demanding that all 60 remake their sanctuaries to conform to the latest liturgical design. Why did we need to spend three million dollars to be the only ones who did?

But we also know that the costs escalated as new requirements were imposed by the City of Dana Point. There are over $800,000.00 in ADA requirements that were not built into the costs because the people in charge don’t know enough about construction to know that you have to submit your plans to the City BEFORE you get bids in order for the actual costs to be determined. If you do that and then the costs escalate, the mistake gets passed on to the architect or general contractor. We were in a rush so there was no time to do things right.

This was a million dollar mistake or deliberate omission that we as a parish have to absorb because the project was done in secret and therefore the professional input that could have come from the parish was left out of the equation. Knowing the true costs up front might have altered the plans to something more modest and affordable.

When we were told in November and December of 2014 that nothing was finalized (see Exhibit 14) except the purchase of the pews, in truth the entire project had already been put out to bid. The liturgical furnishings were already in design (see Exhibit 15). There was no turning back at that point even if final contacts were yet to be signed. We should have been told the truth. We were not.

In fact the entire project had been in the works since 2013 but no word of it came out to the parish (see Exhibit 16). Again, when representations were made that this had been thoroughly vetted by “the pastoral council, the Finance Committee and various parishioners”, this was obviously done with great discretion and secrecy. The issues raised by the “consultations” with Finance and the Pastoral Council is a major part of this whole discussion and is dealt with in the next section. See below for more discussion*.

My biggest concern in this area of costs and disclosures is that there was a statement made in the bulletin in August 2015 (see Exhibit 17) that the project was completed and “the actual cost” was $1.9 million, thus being less than the $2.3 million budgeted. I regret having to say this, but someone is misstating facts (see Exhibit 18)

At the time of the writing of that statement, the Diocesan spreadsheet of costs that was given regularly to the Parish, showed that expenses were already at $2.3 million (see Exhibit 19) and those spreadsheets did not incorporate the change orders with the General Contractor of an additional $400,000.00 that had been paid out under a different designation in the accounting.

Later, because I kept insisting that the accounting was missing the costs of the ADA requirements, I was belatedly given a NEW accounting that for over a period of six months was omitted from the documents they submitted to me.(see Exhibit 20) If the agreement was to give me all the documents related to the costs of the renovations, why was that secondary expense report omitted?

In fact there are paid invoices from the General Contractor for change order items that are paid by the Diocese but do not show on the spread sheets originally submitted (see Exhibit 21). This of course happened after the lawsuit was filed and there were probable concerns at the Parish and the Diocese of the overruns being made public. A transparency issue that has plagued people in the Diocese and Parish for some time.

As a condition of settlement, the parish was required to put an updated accounting for all three projects in the bulletin (see Exibit 22). The accounting for the renovations continues to be stated at $1.9 million with a follow up that there are also $700,000.00 in ADA upgrades, as if it is just an unfortunate requirement of the City and not a genuine cost of the renovations! The implication being, “it cost what we said it would cost” and the additional expenses imposed by the City of almost another million dollars is not a cost of the renovations! This lack of candor is startling.

Unfortunately however even the $1.9 million figure simply is not true. The printout for the diocese shows clearly that the total cost of the project (withholding the ADA numbers from us) was still $2.3 million dollars! And this was achieved by dropping some of the line items and using up the entire $299,000 contingency. That is OK since the contingency is meant to cover the overruns, but you still have to show that you used it up and that the project cost more than the projected amount. There is no reasonable explanation as to why the actual cost was so blatantly and publicly misstated!

I submit that if I and others in the parish had not questioned the whole process, we would never have seen a true balance sheet for the parish, never seen the breakdown of the costs for the renovations and in fact never been told the total costs of the renovations. It is not our business to know what the pastor and bishop do with the money we contribute! Unless it is! In which case we need to tell them.

There are two other instances of huge wastes of money. In 2011 a new plan for the Pastoral Center was commissioned. It cost over $50,000.00. There was a totally new design and plan. When I asked whether we would use that new design when we did build out the center, I was informed that if and when a center was built, the pastor would decided whether it fit the current needs and therefore he was not bound to use it. So, another $50,000.00 out the window The more appropriate answer might have been, "since we have already spent that money, we will make every attempt to make use of the plans". But spending our money frivolously is not a concern to people who value their authority over being proper stewards of the goods of the parish.

Also, in 2013 a Liturgical Study was done to consider the renovations and improvements that might be necessary. It is a lengthy and elaborate report that did in fact involve several lay people along with the design people. That study and report cost about $100,000.00. Yet in 2014 when the plans to proceed with the renovations took shape, most of the report was ignored, things that were needed to be done were dismissed, new ideas were introduced, line item range of costs were given that were substantially less than what we spent and cautionary statements like the cost of ADA requirements were put aside in order to say that the renovations cost less than they actually did!

Another waste of $100,000.00 as if it didn't matter. A new plan implemented that in the areas where there were similarities, the cost difference was enormous.

What was the point of this costly study? Why is our money wasted away over and over again?

CONSULTATION WITH THE FINANCE COMMITTEE

  1. Consultations with Finance Committee are not supported by the minutes.
  2. The only complete document seen and approved by Finance was from 2013.
  3. Vague references to "discussions" that are not part of a verifiable process.
  4. Finance Committee chairman had a different budget from the Pastor and the Diocese.
  5. Diocesan budget was never seen or approved by Finance Committee.
  6. Finance Committee never asked about the ADA costs in the budget.

There have been repeated statements throughout the course of the renovation controversy that everything had been discussed and approved by the Finance Committee. Not only is that required by Canon Law but is was the basis for claiming that there was adequate parish involvement and approval.

What follows here is a time line published by the pastor in an online report about the lawsuit:

Renovation Timeline

2012: Fr. Steve Sallot, former pastor of St. Edward the Confessor, hired a liturgical consultant and formed a committee of staff members and parishioners to discuss options for renovating the church.

May 2012: Liturgy Design Consultant, Robert Habiger, submits a 50-page document to Fr. Steve consisting of renovation recommendations.

Spring 2013: Fr. Steve Sallot is named Vicar General of the diocese and Fr. Brendan Manson is named Administrator of St. Edward the Confessor.

July 2013: Fr. Brendan begins at St. Edward the Confessor. The renovation project is put on hold during the transition of pastors.

February 2014: An assessment of the church roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC is conducted.

Spring 2014: Fr. Brendan studies the renovation recommendations, discusses them with the Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Council, Diocesan Construction Board, parish staff and some of the members of the original renovation committee that Fr. Steve formed.

This claim is not supported by the minutes of the Pastoral Council or Finance Committee!

Summer 2014: Parish Finance and Pastoral Council recommends moving forward with the renovation of the church. The scope, cost, and timing of the project are considered."

This statement is very disturbing:

Minutes of these two boards only indicate that members were “advised” of the plans but did not review the “scope, cost and timing”. And they could not. In the summer, the plans had not been finished, the quotes from vendors had not been obtained and there had been no discussion of a “retablo” at that point. The only thing that was actually agreed upon was that it should start after Christmas and that weddings would be put off.

WHAT IS DISCUSSED NEXT IS VERY IMPORTANT!

Below is a copy of the Renovation Master Budget I received from the head of the Finance Committee in November 2014. This was what even the Finance Chairperson thought was the scope of work!  Unknown to him at the time was the liturgical furnishings had escalated by almost $200,000.00, deferred items were abandoned, lighting was eliminated , fees for consultants increased significantly and no provision was made for ADA upgrades that would result as a consequence of major renovations ($800,000.00 in additional costs). This is a completely different budget from the Finance Chairman than what the Diocesan budget had projected.  There is NO evidence from the minutes of either the Pastoral Council or the Finance Committee that the Diocese budget was ever submitted to either of them or approved by either.

(Note: the intended lighting item was for converting from incandescent to LED lighting in order to cut the electrical bill substantially)

(This is an exact copy of the document I received in November 2014)

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Compare this with the Diocesan spreadsheet (click to enlarge to view details):

STE 01471 1-1

STE 01471 1-2

STE 01471 1-3

(THIS IS THE ORIGINAL)

The minutes of the parish Finance Committee are in the exhibits.  NOWHERE in those minutes in 2014 is it shown that the plans, cost or renderings were ever presented to the committee, much less thoroughly reviewed (see Exhibit 23).  NOWHERE is it apparent that anyone on the committee was designated to review the the project for it costs. When specifically asked to produce any document that would demonstrate the actual approval by the committee of the renovations, I was provided with a document from 2013 (see Exhibit 24) presented to the committee, long before the actual details were even decided.

In a bulletin announcement (see Exhibit 25), Fr. Brendan states that the entire project was reviewed by the Finance Committee in September and he was authorized to proceed. If you read the minutes of that meeting (see Exhibit 23), the project was presented at that one meeting (WITHOUT A QUORUM PRESENT), general aspects were discussed, no renderings were reviewed, NO BIDS were reviewed, NO FINAL BUDGET WAS REVIEWED and the committee was not asked to take the documentation and study it so that it could be discussed in more detail at the next meeting.

In truth, the Committee (at least the three lay members present) simply ratified what was put in front of them, with no changes, no objections and no comments. An insider group that follows the direction of the boss and is impressed with itself that it has approved a major change in the architecture of the church. A MAJOR decision of money and consequences but little discussion and no sense that this might be more properly reviewed by the general parish given its cost and scope. This is not a committee that has a sense of accountability to the parish!

After the lawsuit was initiated, the information regarding the Pastoral Council and Finance Committee were put on the homepage of the parish website. Before that time, that information was only available deep in the site.  “Minutes” were published for several prior months. Yet those minutes were severely redacted. After seeing that, I requested copies of the complete minutes that are shown in the Exhibit 23 along with the redacted ones (see Exhibit 27).

The issue arises as to why the minutes were not previously published and when they were, why they had to then be redacted for publication. Further the question arises as to why the parish was not regularly informed of the decisions of these two entities in the bulletin each month. Are their deliberations as our representatives none of our business?  Is there information we should not have for our own good, like how much money is in the bank? Is there no one on the Finance Committee who is uncomfortable with the idea that they operate in secret?

Also, it should be noted that after an initial attempt to be transparent, only the September 2015 minutes of the Finance Committee has been published as of December 31, 2015. The Pastoral Council has not published minutes since September 2015 (as of February 2016).

As part of the settlement discussions I asked Fr. Brendan to explain why he would not allow at least a partially elected Pastoral Council, similar to the Councils in most surrounding parishes. His answer is (see Exhibit 28) that he is basically satisfied with an appointed Council and sees no need to change it. Obviously it is more convenient to have people on the Council that are there by his acquiesce than having people who might be independent of him.

Of interest may be the way the Pastoral Councils of adjoining parishes are constructed. In (Exhibit 40) are copies of the websites for St. Timothy in Laguna Niguel and for the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. BOTH parishes have elected Pastoral Councils. They both have very inclusive procedures for involving the laity and keeping the laity informed. Their mission statements are broad, not just one paragraph as is St. Edward. Perhaps a sign of confidence on the part of the pastors that open discussion and open selection of council members is not a threat to their leadership?

WHERE IS THE OPENNESS, THE ACCOUNTABILITY, THE COLLABORATION WITH THE PARISHIONERS? WHAT IS THE FEAR OF THESE ACTIONS? WHY ARE WE NOT A VATICAN II PARISH THAT IS INCLUSIVE OF THE LAITY? WHY WOULD THE FINANCE COMMITTEE CONSPIRE TO WITHHOLD INFORMATION ABOUT THE BANK ACCOUNTS FROM THE GENERAL PARISH (SEE DECEMBER 14, 2014 MINUTES IN Exhibit 23)

THE PURCHASE OF PRIESTS' APARTMENT

  1. The cost of the new apartments was $650,000.00 more than we thought it was. $1,700.00.00 with new furnishings
  2. Undisclosed funds were used for the purchase.
  3. Representations were made that it was part of the Pastoral Center Plan.
  4. The general parish was not consulted, just "informed"
  5. $150,000.00 in upgrades and furnishings had been done to the old  rectory a few years before.
I believe that this is another example of large sums from our donations being spent lavishly without input from the parish at large. The cost for the fourplex plus renovations came to over $1.5 million dollars (see Exhibit 34). Initially we were led to believe that the cost of the fourplex was $975,000.00.

There was another $50,000.00 in furnishings that are not included in the accounting given in the bulletin. Another unfortunate example of not being totally forthcoming.

The announcement of the purchase of the apartment was casually made in the bulletin several years ago. Many people were astounded. There was a very nice rectory already on site. A few years before, Fr. Lenihan had put more than $150,000.00 into upgrades.

There were various explanations given. The most published one was that it was necessary because of the impending build out of the Pastoral Center (see Exhibit 30). Fr. Brendan in an announcement in the bulletin said that it was paid for from Capital Campaign Funds. It was claimed that the design of the center called for the elimination of the rectory. Later in the settlement discovery process the statement that the funds came from the Capital Campaign was abandoned. However that misstatement has never been acknowledged.

If one looks at the original plans for the Pastoral Center, you can see that the center was designed around the rectory (see Exhibit 32). There had never been a suggestion of purchasing an off site rectory and the fund raising did not contemplate doing that. But equally disingenuous was the fact that everyone on staff and on the Councils knew that there was not enough money to build the Pastoral Center so there was no urgency to move out of the rectory!!

In the end, it came down to the desire of the priests to live off campus where they were not subject to always being available and not under scrutiny by parishioners. ("The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sun glasses. There is a good and healthy tiredness. It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep… but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren." Pope Francis(4/2/15). While there may be some validity to not being in a fishbowl all the time, using reserve funds from parish accounts to spend a million and a half dollars for private housing should have been a more open and transparent transaction. And done with the consent of the general parish.

My reason for requesting the financial information on the apartment purchase was because of the statement by Fr. Brendan that the funds for that purchase came from the Capital Campaign. However even though it turned out that those funds were not used, the enormous expense in the purchase raised new issues of how hidden parish funds were being used with no accountability. Obviously it was easier to say the money came from Capital Campaign funds than to explain that there were enormous reserves being kept secret.

I find it disheartening that such duplicity occurred but also that there were people on staff and serving on the Finance Committee and Pastoral Council who knew or should have known that there were large sums of money being used from secret accounts but said nothing.

Absent an elected, or partially elected Pastoral Council, there is no independence to question the decisions of the pastor or to challenge those decisions.

We are forced to ask the question, does a hierarchical model of Church structure, developed in the Middle Ages, suit the needs and expectations of a 21st century Church? This was not the model of the early Church.

The Church, in my own estimation, should be much less concerned with the prerogatives of the clergy and bishops and far more concerned with ministry and evangelization. The abuse crisis that we endured was a direct result of placing the protection of clerical interests above the mission of Christ’s Church! That episode in our history severely diminished the teaching authority of the Church and drove millions of adherents out of the Church. And yet, we hold firm to the idea that priest and Bishop are a protected species above reproach.

Our Church cannot survive in its present form unless we, clergy and laity, are travelling the same path together. Together, WE are the Church!

We can and do respect the sacrifice made by men who answer the call to the priesthood. But it is not just a sacrifice, it is a privilege. A privilege to be called and serve.

THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN OF 2000-2003

  1. The Capital Campaign funds are now $690,000.00
  2. The remaining documents from the period say that there should be either $1.5  million or $1.8 million in the fund.
  3. Much of the accounting is missing even though Canon Law says that Capital  Expenditures must be maintained permanently.
  4. Documents show that about $900,000.00 has continued to be charged to that fund up until to 2010. The project  was completed by 2002.
  5. An anonymous audit says the whole project was mismanaged.
The most problematic of the three issues is the Capital Campaign. The numbers change routinely depending on who is reporting and when the report is made. Nothing adds up. There are major discrepancies from one report to the other and even in the "official" general ledger print out I received there are serious questions of accuracy and fact.

It is my belief that the Capital Campaign fund has been improperly depleted and is deficient by at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS! There are two extremely important factors for making this statement:

1. After final completion of the School Renovation, land purchase and parking lot improvements that came to a highly questionable figure of $5.9 million dollars as of September 2002, AN ADDITIONAL $900,000.00 WAS CHARGED TO THAT ACCOUNT BETWEEN 2003 AND 2013.

2. The official statement of the overruns for the Capital Campaign projects was $1.5 million dollars. The effect of these overruns was to deplete the monies raised for the Pastoral Center. Since these monies ($6.5 million) were raised on a promise and commitment that they would be used for three distinct purposes, to use money donated for a specific purpose for another purpose is a violation of trust.

Once it became apparent that the costs of the school and parking lot had been seriously underestimated, there were, in my opinion, two courses of action that were available. Either the donors needed to be informed up front of the cost overruns and their approval obtained to divert funds to the overruns, or, the deficits should have come out of parish reserves. The point being that the fundraising was based upon finite numbers for the three projects and by using Pastoral Center funds to pay for mistakes made on the other two projects is not proper.

Had the lawsuit gone forward, I believe the courts would have required that these funds be replaced, both for the charges made to the fund after completion of the school and parking lot projects ($900,000.00) and for the $1.5 million diverted from the fund to pay for the overruns. I believe that the account for the Capital Campaign should be $2.4 million as of today.

Now for specifics. The official printout, upon which I believe the report in the bulletin of January 10, 2016 is based (see Exhibit 34), has lump sum items of $366,570.00 for fees and permits, a charge of $227,925.00 for "Building Campaign" and a second line item for "Permits Building" of $60,850.00. These are all large sums of money with no actual line item explanation included. Over $420,000.00 for fees and permits is astounding! It is also unbelievable. What is important to understand is that these charges are not part of the final accounting given by the finance chairperson in a report of 2003.

The Building Campaign charge above is probably for the fees paid to the fundraiser and to staff in the parish, but we don't know for sure. If those charges are for the fundraiser and staff, it cost us almost a quarter of a million dollars to raise $6.5 million dollars.

When I pressed for more detail, I was told that this is all there is. When I suggested that the figures were not supported by detail, I was criticized for being upset because I could not get information that supported my theories. Since I had never expressed any "theories", one wonders what theories they were worried about!

I am starting with the official version here and am working backwards. You will see how contradictory these numbers are.

In the official version (see Exhibit 36), go to page 7, the shaded box in the bottom left. These general ledger numbers basically correspond to the report in the January 10, 2016 bulletin by adding up line items 1231, 1238, 1239, and 1320. These line items come to $6,685,553.00. The bulletin says the expenses were at least $6,680,000.

However, if you look at pages 4,5 and 6, you will see my handwritten "x's"s. Those x's identify charges to the Capital Campaign from 2004 to 2010. The Capital Campaign projects were finished by late 2001. So the question arises as to how they can justify continued charges to that account long after it has been officially completed. THE TOTAL EXPENSE FIGURE GIVEN IN THE JANUARY 2016 BULLETIN CONTAINS CHARGES TO THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FROM 1998 TO 2010. THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN PROJECTS BEGAN IN LATE 1999 AND FINISHED IN 2002.

It is the gift that keeps on giving!

I cannot identify many of the charges as to what entity it belongs, so I suspect that my numbers are conservative. My evaluation from this printout is that at least $236,059.76 has been over billed to the Capital Campaign since the project completion. On the other hand, the Capital Campaign documents of 2003 say the project cost $5.9 million suggesting that the overcharges to the Campaign fund is more in the realm of $900,000.00

On page 4 of the official printout, which contains the charges through 2002, the total corresponds with the amount given by Fr. Sallot in 2003 as the final cost of the campaign projects.

Over the course of the the campaign itself, numbers changed depending on who was providing them and why (Exhibit 37) provides several different versions of the costs and how much money should still be left in the account. By most accounts, AFTER THE CAMPAIGN CLOSED IN 2002, IT WAS ESTIMATED THAT THERE WAS STILL $1.5 MILLION LEFT IN THE ACCOUNT!

If you are confused by all this, so am I! Nothing is consistent and nothing adds up. Is it deliberate or just incompetence?

Finally, perhaps the most damning evidence I obtained is a report done by some unidentified individual reviewing the entire undertaking of the Capital Campaign (see Exhibit 39). This report is astounding in its candor. There is little doubt that author sees the entire project as a fiasco.

It is unclear why someone did this report or for whom it was done but it must have been presented to someone in the parish and then apparently forgotten or ignored.

What is to be learned from this report is that there is enormous incompetence, lack of checks and balances, lack of knowledge in what they are doing and total disregard for the intentions of the donors.

For the record, the costs for the school renovations, the overruns and the continued charges to the Capital Campaign long after it was over, all this is the result of accounting done by the parish office and not the school administration. No one at the school had control over the accounting or allocations.

The bottom line on all this is that there are inconsistent accounts, liberal spending of trust money and atrocious bookkeeping. The excuse for the record keeping is that this was many years ago and it is hard to maintain records that long. Further it was alleged that sometime in the mid 2000's there was a change over of accounting software and data was lost.

Assuming that was true, why wasn't the older software and data preserved? Why didn't the diocese have backup as well as their own accounting? Canon law requires that all capital expenditures and lists of capital assets be maintained permanently. Yet the Diocese and the parish protested that it was unreasonable to reconstruct what happened exactly in the Capital Campaign and in the ledgers for the expenses!

CANON LAW

  1. The fall back position for the parish and the Diocese has been Canon Law.
  2. Canon Law, written by the bishops, put total control of the physical assets of the Church in the hands of the bishops.
  3. Canon Law was written in the Dark Ages when most people were dependent on the Church.
  4. Modern Canon Law shares ministry with the laity but retains complete control of the temporal goods of the Church with the bishops and priests.
As events in the discussion of the renovations and ultimately the lawsuit progressed, the fall back position of both the Pastor and the Bishop was that everything was done in conformance with Canon Law.

In church matters everything is controlled by Canon Law in deciding what the Bishop and pastor can do. It is what I like to call the "get out of jail card"! These internal laws of the Church guarantee that in all matters, the ultimate right and authority rests with the bishop and through him to the pastor. There is an old adage that says that the duties of the laity in the Catholic Church are to "pray and pay". Up until the revised Codes of Canon Law of 1983, the role of the laity was pretty much one of a passive observer whose participation in the life of the Church was related to the pray and pay mentality.

After the revised canons were published in response to the mandates of the Vatican II Council, the role of the laity was somewhat enhanced. We were finally acknowledged as full members of the Church with some limited roles in ministry and a perception at least that we actually had some say in things,. But as always, you had to read the fine print! Make no mistake, there was no surrender of power or authority over anything, just a nod to the laity that we would somehow be engaged.

It is important to understand why we have Canon Law. The early Church had no canon law. For the first few centuries of existence the Church was all about the teachings of Christ, evangelization, celebrating the Eucharist and sharing the scriptures. People met in homes, not churches, the community was usually small and supportive.

After Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, matters got worse. The Church grew in numbers, influence and wealth. When the Roman Empire finally collapsed, the Church stepped into the breach and became not just the spiritual leader but often times the temporal leader as well. Bishops became like princes with money, power and estates. Some even had armies. The Popes had armies that they themselves sometimes led into battle!

By the end of the first millennium the Church found itself to be so large and spread out that it became apparent that there needed to be universal laws and regulations that were consistent from one region to another. Each diocese had its own set of regulations that often conflicted with other dioceses. This confusion in Church procedures had to be eliminated. As a result, the pope had a universal set of "canons" developed, incorporating the various canons of dioceses around the Western World.

These Canons dealt with the spiritual authority of the Church, the rights and duties of the clergy, and to some degree, the rights and duty of the laity. But in the 11th century as the Codes of Canon Law began to develop into a more structured set of laws they began to reflect the times in which they were created, i.e. the Dark Ages.

During this period there were basically two classes of people (outside of the clergy), the landowner class and the serfs. The Serfs represented the vast majority of Europeans: indentured servants, workers, farmers, artisans and merchants. All of whom were under the control of the landed class. Few people of this era were educated. Few had possessions beyond the clothes on their backs.

It was within the context of this age that Canon Law came about. A time when the Church saw itself as a protector not just of doctrine but also of society itself. It saw the majority of people as incapable of running their own lives and in need of the Church's guidance in all matters of body and soul. The concepts of collegiality or transparency were non existent and indeed, if such concepts had been raised, they would have been considered absurd. Peasants could hardly count the number of fingers and toes on their body, much less have a concept of the finances of the Church.

The clergy were usually somewhat educated and as pastors and bishops they acquired wealth and influence. Wealth, in particular, that they wanted to pass on to their families. This presented big problems for the Church when a local parish priest decided that on his death, the entire goods of the parish would go to his heirs!

The solution in Canon Law was to make sure that all the rights of ownership of property within the diocese vested in the bishop and or the diocese. That was an understandable decision given the era in which the canon was decreed.

Over the centuries, not much changed. Canon law preserved the concept that only the clergy were sufficiently qualified to manage the affairs of the Church and that all the ownership and control of the temporal goods of the Church rested with the bishop. By the 20th century the Church was populated by doctors, lawyers, scientists, university professors, CPA's, and so on. Vatican II recognized the incongruity of a code of laws that still saw the laity as serfs. Further it began to dawn on the bishops that it was not exactly their Church and that the laity had a right and in fact a duty to fully participate in Christ's mission for the Church.

Painful as it was, the bishops at the Vatican II Council finally gave the laity nominal if not real participation in the life of the Church. Since Vatican II, bishops have asked the laity to fill in for absent priests in a variety of ministries. . Yet while surrendering such priestly duties as giving homilies, doing baptisms, distributing communion and so on, the one non-sacramental function the bishops have clung to is control of the temporal goods of the Church!

Let me make that clear! We laity can step in for the clergy in fulfilling their ministry functions, but the secular activity of managing the physical assets of the Church is retained by the clergy. One has to suspect that if we got down to just one priest left in the diocese, his time would be spent managing the physical assets of the Church rather than engaging in evangelization!

One of the most important reforms needed in the modern Church is to make canon law consistent with the mission of the Church. Bishops need to divest themselves of the absolute powers they have given themselves and return to the role of shepherd instead of CEO. Canon Law needs to reflect the Church's interest in preserving doctrine and discipline within the body of the Church. Not in preserving the prerogatives of the clergy.

The Church is a divine institution, founded by Christ himself. Over time, we people have turned the institution of the Church into an organization that seems to exist for its own purpose, not for the purpose that Christ intended. Over the centuries, great reformers have come forward to lead the Church back to it roots. My hope is that Pope Francis, who took the name of one of the great reformers of the Church, is the next instrument of the Holy Spirit in renewal of the Church.

BACKGROUND

After months of private settlement talks, I have agreed to end the lawsuit after I received numerous documents regarding the issues raised by the lawsuit.

Many of those documents WILL SOON available on this site, divided into categories related to the 1) Capital Campaign Fund of early 2000 -2005; 2) the purchase of the priest’s apartment; 3) documents related to the more recent “renovations” that occurred at the parish church.

At the outset of this commentary I want to emphasize that I am addressing the issues of transparency, accountability and collaboration as well as the wasteful spending of parish monies. There is no criticism of Fr. Manson as a spiritual pastor or of his dedication to his ministry. There are extraordinarily good things being done in our parish that are the product of his leadership.

I have also specifically invited Fr. Brendan and other parishioners to offer their own responses on this site. In addition there is a place for anyone else to make their own comments here if they choose to do so.

WHY THE LAWSUIT WENT FORWARD

This lawsuit came about after several months of discussions, emails and other contacts by myself and several other parishioners with Fr. Brendan regarding the proposed maintenance and renovations to the parish church.

Many parishioners were concerned about the alterations to the church building that would change the look and character of the building, as well as the extraordinary costs involved. We asked that before decisions were finalized as to the changes being made, that the parish community could look at the proposals, see renderings and discuss whether we liked the changes being made.

After several months of being told by Fr. Brendan that there would not be a reconsideration of the planned alterations, a letter was circulated in the parish that had over one hundred signatures when it was first sent to Bishop Vann in December 2014. Eventually, the number of signatures exceeded 250 parish members (see Exhibit 1).

Bishop Vann refused to respond to his own parishioners. He told one parishioner who met him at Holy Family Cathedral that he did not respond to petitions. I began to wonder at that point, who does our Bishop respond to? And why would he take a corporate attitude towards members of his own flock? Why would any Bishop take the position that he doesn’t respond to the people he has been assigned to care for? (The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. (1/24/14- Pope Francis to the Bishops)

By January, I became troubled by the fact that our Pastor did not feel he had any accountability to the parish at large to consult them on such a major undertaking or for spending such a large sum of money from parish reserves.

I was also deeply troubled by a Bishop who also felt that he had no accountability to his people. (The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly. (9/23/15, Pope Francis to the Bishops)

The answer had always come back to us that both pastor and Bishop had followed Canon Law and Diocesan guidelines and therefore had no obligation to go further. The pastor had relied upon the approval of the Pastoral Council and Finance Committee as his consultation with the parish. Both entities however are unelected members appointed by the pastor and serve at his discretion .

As parishioners came forward expressing their concerns, as it became apparent that opposition to the costs and scope of the changes was growing, Fr. Brendan and the Bishop had an opportunity to delay or scale down the project while the issues were discussed within the parish. That they chose not to do so, that they chose  to ignore the groundswell of opposition by taking the position that Canon Law empowered them to do whatever they decided, was nothing short of arrogance.

After the lawsuit began and discussions were ongoing, a few more transparent things occurred: the minutes of these two groups (although severely edited) were finally published on the parish website; full financial statements were published for the first time; the names of the members of these two groups were published for the first time and a link to the two committees was put on the homepage of the website instead of having to dig deep into the site to find any information about either the Pastoral Council or the Finance Committee.

However that commitment was short lived with the Pastoral Council.

MY GOAL

Good Catholics don’t bring lawsuits against their bishop or pastor! When word spread about the lawsuit, I received a lot of criticism both directly and indirectly.

“You are bringing scandal on the Church”, “this is a family matter, we solve family matters among ourselves”, “ the bishop owns everything and makes whatever decision he wants”, “Canon Law gives the bishop and pastor complete control over the goods of the Church, you have no say in the matter”, “the civil courts have no jurisdiction over the affairs of the Catholic Church, don’t you know about the First Amendment?”, “you are trying to make money off the Church”, “Fr. Brendan is nice young man, why are you attacking him?”

I am shunned by several people in the parish and some in ministry will no longer work with me!

So why did I take such an extraordinary step? For the following reasons, right or wrong:

  • I believe that our Church must aspire to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Our rules are antiquated and inconsistent with modern concepts of accountability.
  • That the Church above all other institutions should not have internal rules that do not conform to the standards of the civil law in matters of money given in trust.
  • Our internal rules, i.e. Canon Law, are made by the bishops and are designed to give THEMSELVES complete authority over all matters of the temporal Church.
  • There is a major difference between authority over matters of faith and morals and that of governance over the physical goods of the Church. One does not give rise to the other.
  • That the good faith offerings of The People of God to their parish and diocese are not intended by most people to be used indiscriminately, subject entirely to the whims and fantasies of clergy. As Catholics, we make our weekly contributions in order to build up the Church in its ministries and service to the community.
  • The expectations of most parishioners, I believe, is that weekly donations are used for operation of the parish facilities, salaries of clergy and staff, property maintenance, ministry, care for the poor and evangelization. The last three being the most important and for which there is never enough money.
  • Major purchases of buildings, temporal goods, property etc. are not the normal expectation of use for weekly contributions. Those funds should come from funds raised explicitly for that purpose and with the foreknowledge and consent of the donors.
  • To bring attention to the fact that when clergy, without the advice and help of the laity, are usually out of their depth in matters of construction projects. You will see here that enormous sums of money have been wasted over the years by pastors at St. Edward because of their lack of knowledge about construction and permits. Had the advice and leadership of competent lay persons been sought out, many of the missteps taken in the recent renovations could have been avoided.

As a Church and a parish, we should not be accumulating vast sums of money. That is not our mission, we are not bankers. Money donated to a parish should be used for the mission of the parish. Modest reserves for contingencies is prudent but otherwise the ministries should be funded according to their needs, the poor attended to, the needs of the Universal Church addressed.

What is my idea of "vast sums of money"? It is six million dollars! That is the amount of money in our reserve accounts before the renovations. No one knew we had that kind of money. No one knew because when the yearly financial statements were published in the bulletin, we were only given the profit and loss portions of the parish financials. The balance sheet with the bank accounts was NEVER published before this lawsuit (it was published for the first time last October during the continuation of the lawsuit see Exhibit 13).

When I asked the pastor why that was, I was told that it was always stated in the deferred maintenance portion of the profit and loss. Really! All anyone had to do was add up the deferred maintenance items by each year to get a semblance of what the total account might be. And besides, if anyone really cared, they could go to the office and ask to look at the complete financial statements. No one ever did, so obviously no one cared. So you see, nothing was hidden if you just knew where to look.

I also asked the chairperson of the Finance Committee why those monies were never revealed to the parish. He was a bit more candid! It was because there was a fear that if that amount of savings were revealed, parishioners might think we already had enough money and stop contributing! At least an honest answer!

Recently in our parish several ministry budgets were cut because of declining  donations. The price of the “baldocchino” would have covered much of the deficit for this year. The $200,000 spent on the retablo would keep our ministries funded for several years. What are the priorities?

For all these reasons and more, I came to the conclusion that if our Bishop felt that he did not have to respond to the cry of his people in the form of a petition, then there must be another way to communicate with him that gets his attention! Unfortunate as it is, if a civil lawsuit is the only thing that will get our bishops to be accountable, whether it is cooperation with police in matters of child molestation or abuse of their role as overseers of the goods of the diocese, then they themselves are the ones who cause this to happen.

​ (Full Disclosure: A part of the settlement required that the Diocese reimburse me for part of my attorney fees. During the course of this litigation I incurred approximately $51,000.00 in attorney fees plus costs. The Diocese agreed to reimburse $20,000.00 of those fees and costs. A check was made payable directly to my attorney. The remaining $31,000.00. plus litigation costs of approximately $2,500.00 was paid by me).

WHY I SETTLED

Wasn’t the point of all this to change the culture of how the local church and for that matter the universal church treats the assets of the hard earned monies given in good faith to the Church? Wasn’t it about getting the civil courts to tell the Catholic Church that it is bound by the same laws and ethical conduct as everyone else when it comes to being honest and forthright?

By settling the lawsuit, I have abandoned the idea of imposing reforms by a civil authority. Instead, after requiring transparency of the expenses and procedures and being in in receipt of over 1000 pages of documents, I have decided that by sharing this information, it should be the decision of all the members of the parish as to how or if changes will happen in the future. It is our Church and we should all take responsibility for it. ​

Below are the summaries of three events in the parish as well as a commentary on applicable Canon Law. The areas covered are 1) the background and expenses for the recent renovation. 2) The purchase of the off-site priest’s apartment. 3) The Capital Campaign. 4) Canon Law.

MISSTATEMENTS

AFTER THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED, THIS ARTICLE WAS PUT ON THE PARISH WEBSITE IN FEBRUARY OF 2015. THIS IS A REBUTTAL.

* In a long web article published on the Parish site in February 2015, there were some unfortunate allegations made about me but also a new and revised explanation of how things had occurred:

"February 1, 2015

I would like to address a newspaper article that was written Sunday, February 1. A parishioner has filed a lawsuit – and injunction – against the diocese, the bishop, our parish and me. The suit falsely claims that money raised in the parish capital campaign in the year 2000 has not been used for the purpose for which it was intended which was to (1) expand the school, (2) purchase additional property adjacent to the parish and (3) build a new parish center.   The injunction seeks to stop the work of the renovation of the church. I addressed this concern in the November 16th bulletin and the chairman of our parish finance council, a long-time parishioner and respected business owner, also addressed this concern with the parishioner suing us. Each October* we publish a summary of the parish’s finances, and offer to give more detailed information to anyone who is interested.  We had a voluntarily independent audit conducted when I came to the parish in July 2013 and all of the financial matters of the parish are discussed and decided collaboratively with our parish finance council and the parish pastoral council. I have always encouraged parish interest and involvement in the renovation plans. The process was guided by our pastoral council and finance which represents all of the 6000 St. Edward’s registered families. In a parish this size, we cannot expect that everyone will be completely pleased with the result of our process, but I am disappointed that the few who did not embrace our community-generated plan**are seeking to stop the process for everyone. I will keep you updated and I ask for your prayers and support."

*The statement that “Each October we publish a summary of the parish’s finances, and offer to give more detailed information to anyone who is interested.” is less than forthright! For several years, including the disclosures of the previous October, the parish has deliberately withheld the balance sheets showing the bank accounts.  This was done for fear that if people knew how much money the parish had, there would be a decrease in donations. To say that the parish finances were published every October is knowingly misleading.

** The statement that the renovations were a “community generated plan” is again lacking in candor. A handful of people who are directed by the pastor does not constitute a community generated plan. “The Community” knew nothing about this plan until it was already set in concrete and even then, the initial announcements failed to present any detail of the costs or provide a rendering of what was contemplated. Saying that handpicked advisors who approved the plans were representative of the community is disingenuous..

"Renovation update

Q: Weren’t there plans to build a new Eucharist Chapel?

A: Yes. After consulting with Fr. Steve Sallot and the parish renovation committee, the liturgical consultant, Robert Habiger, presented two options for the renovation project. Both options were more extensive and, therefore, more expensive than the scope of work we are undertaking. Including a 15% contingency that is added on to all parish construction projects, the total cost of the renovation with a new Eucharistic Chapel was estimated to at $5.5M. After consulting with various parish councils, I decided to reduce the scope and cost of the renovations which is estimated at $2.3M.

.........

Q: Who was involved in the decision-making of the renovations?

A: •Parish Renovation Committee consisting of parishioners, staff members, ministry representatives

•Parish Operations Manager •Parish Finance Council •Parish Pastoral Council •Parish Business Manager and Finance Manager •One-on-one conversations with parishioners and Fr. Steve Sallot •Bishop Kevin Vann •Diocesan Design and Renovation Committee •Diocesan Construction Board •Liturgy Design Consultant Robert Habiger of Dekker/Perich/Sabatin who produced a 50-page Liturgical Program, a document consisting of renovation recommendations and considerations • Fr. Brendan Manson* "

* Fact check: The Parish Renovation Committee met in 2013 under Fr. Sallot. The Committee did not meet with Fr. Brendan. Further the document that the Committee reviewed was written in 2013 and was entirely different from the scope and costs recommended by the report of Robert Habiger.

There are NO minutes of the Pastoral Council or Finance Committee provided to me that show that the final plans or even preliminary ones were reviewed by either group, or that any input was received from them.

The statement above is a collection of varying timelines, approvals of people directly under the Pastor’s control, entities that are NOT representatives of the parish (•Diocesan Design and Renovation Committee •Diocesan Construction Board) and unidentified parishioners with whom “conversations” were had. Unidentified parishioners are not representatives of the parish in any manner whatsoever!

"(Answer is reprinted from our parish website December 11, 2014)

Q: Is any of the money that was raised in the Parish Capital Campaign in the year 2000 being used to renovate the church?

A: No. (For more information, please see the November 16th bulletin which addressed this question in more detail. Past bulletins are available on the parish website, or you may contact the parish office with any questions).

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