Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding the LRP Processes that were raised at the parish-wide LRP presentations. All the questions are listed first, then the questions with answers follow.
- Was St. Gabriel’s long-range planning undertaken at the request of the Archdiocese?
- Who is the consultant that has been assisting St. Gabriel’s in the long-range planning process?
- How were the members of the LRP task force chosen?
- Are minutes of the LRP meetings available?
- How was the scope of the long-range planning process decided? Were alternatives to closing a campus researched??
- In its research and discernment, did the LRP task force consider financial needs only?
- Why did the LRP task force recommend consolidating to a single campus?
- What is the source of the property valuations, maintenance assessments, and demographic projections that were used by the LRP task force?
- Was a survey of parishioners taken to help inform the LRP task force?
- How can parishioners share additional questions and input?
- What are the remaining steps of the LRP process and how will updates be communicated?
1. Was St. Gabriel’s long-range planning undertaken at the request of the Archdiocese?
No. As Father Liekhus left the
parish in June 2020, he indicated in his farewell letter that St. Gabriel’s was
facing serious financial and ministerial challenges connected with our being a
two-campus parish. Parish leadership enlisted the help of Catholic Finance
Corporation to assist us in discerning a long-range plan for the parish. (St.
Gabriel’s has worked with CFC for decades as our preferred loan provider.) In
August 2020, the LRP task force was formed and
began meeting monthly to explore the situation of our parish from multiple angles.
2. Who is the consultant that has been assisting St. Gabriel’s in the long-range planning process?
For the past 13 months, the parish
has been working with Phil Boelter from Catholic Finance Corporation (CFC) to
facilitate the LRP discernment process. CFC is a separately chartered 501C-3
organization, an apostolate of the Archdiocese. CFC’s mission, in their own
words, is to help guide Catholic parishes and schools “to an improved position
of financial strength and security so that they may freely and faithfully
fulfill their mission through their various ministries.”
Phil has worked with many other parishes in similar situations and has a good working knowledge of the requirements of both the Archdiocese and Canon Law. His experience has been invaluable in directing the task force throughout the long-range planning process.
3. How were the members of the LRP task force chosen?
In forming the task force, Fr Paul
invited a cross-section of the parish, including: two members of the Finance
Council, two members of the Parish Council, our two trustees, two members from
the staff, and a representative of the Latino community.
4. Are minutes of the LRP
Minutes are not available because
they were not taken at the meetings. However, the parish-wide presentations in
September captured the content of the planning meetings held by the LRP task
5. How was the scope of the long-range planning process decided? Were alternatives to closing a campus researched??
Various interesting ideas were proposed for how we could make money off of our school properties, or pursue other creative solutions, in order to make our parish more financially solvent. For example, converting St. John’s school into condominiums. Some of these ideas may have merit, but they would have taken a prohibitive amount of time, energy, and expertise to investigate. More importantly, such ideas do not address the central problem that gave rise to our need for long-range planning.
The central problem that gave rise to St. Gabriel’s need for long-range planning was that, for many years, the parish’s expenses far exceeded its Sunday collections. The scope of the task force was to discern how St. Gabriel’s can operate within its means and best fulfill its mission.
6. In its research and discernment, did the LRP task force consider financial needs only?
No, the LRP task force considered our situation on multiple levels, including spiritual needs, ministries, operations, demographics, and finances. For example, the task force reviewed the parish’s past and current ministry patterns and discussed at length the question of how St. Gabriel’s can best serve the spiritual needs of parishioners (including potential parishioners!) as well as the surrounding community.
7. Why did the LRP task force recommend consolidating to a single campus?
There were three key factors that led the task force to recommend consolidating to a single campus: Finances, Mission, and Demographics.
Finances were one factor in the recommendation. Our donations continue to fall short of meeting the annual operating budget. This is depleting our cash reserves.
- It should be no surprise that our financial forecasts show that remaining on both campuses would deplete our cash reserves faster than consolidating to a single campus. By selling a campus, we can conserve our cash reserves and make an investment in renovations to keep a single campus attractive to our members, the community and new parishioners.
- Due in large part to the cost of maintaining two campuses, our parish has had to rely on outside sources of income to make ends meet, such as leasing our school buildings. But as we learned when Agamim Hebrew Academy broke their school lease early, depriving us of money we were relying on, these sources of revenue are undependable and risky. Consolidating to a single campus will mitigate these risks as well as the challenge of finding and maintaining long-term tenants.
- The Capital Campaign only addressed significant repairs and maintenance on both campuses that we have been unable to afford with our operating budget. The campaign did not include longer-term improvements, expansions, or renovations. Having to use a capital campaign in this way is another indicator of the financial stress our parish is experiencing.
- Our properties are aging and need routine repair and maintenance. Although consolidating to a single campus does not solve all of our financial problems, it does put us on stronger financial footing to be able to meet ongoing repair needs and to invest in making our campus look not only clean and attractive but fresh and up-to-date.
Many other financial challenges of having two campuses could be mentioned, such as the cost (in money and time) of maintaining two physical plants, two sacristies, two sound systems, etc.
- Another key factor in the recommendation to consolidate to a single campus was our mission. This factor includes several considerations.
- Maintaining two campuses consumes a significant amount of time, energy, and money. If those precious resources were reallocated from maintaining buildings to evangelizing and ministering to people, St. Gabriel’s could be much more effective in accomplishing its mission of forming and equipping disciples of Christ.
- Our staff are currently stretched across both campuses and do not share a common office space, making it difficult to function as a team and work efficiently. Consolidating to a single campus would greatly simplify the management of the parish and would allow our staff to focus on serving parishioners and advancing the mission of St. Gabriel’s.
- Both of our campuses look worn. They are receiving less care than they require because we have more upkeep than we can handle or afford. Having all operations and activities on the same campus would better utilize the time and resources of parishioners, energize our ministries, and foster vibrant parish life.
- Although the parishes of St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph were officially merged in 2013 as the parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel, we have yet to become a truly united parish family. Every parish has a culture that distinguishes it from other parishes, but St. Gabriel’s has yet to establish a culture of its own—one that is distinct from the previous cultures of St. John’s and St. Joe’s. In the long run, consolidating to a single campus will facilitate this process and help us to unite as the parish family of St. Gabriel the Archangel.
The final key factor in the recommendation to consolidate was demographics. The demographic information we received was helpful in understanding our current membership and predicting the future makeup of our parish and broader service community.
- The number of registered Catholics in our parish has declined by 26.4% since 2010 and we expect this trend to continue as the parish ages. In fact, by 2025, people 65 and older are projected to outnumber the 0-18 population in our parish boundary and broader service area. Practically speaking, this indicates that donations will continue to decline for the foreseeable future.
- Based on this data, we may conclude that St. Gabriel’s has more space than it currently needs or is likely to need in the near future. Consolidating to a single campus will allow us to use our buildings and facilities to their full potential, rather than split our presence and resources between them.
8. What is the source of the property valuations, maintenance assessments, and demographic projections that were used by the LRP task force?
The LRP task force obtained these reports, valuations, and projections from independent consultants.
- The Property Condition Assessment of each campus was conducted by The Javelin Group, Inc.
- The Broker Opinion of Value for each campus was provided by Cushman & Wakefield.
- The demographic reports, which covered our parish community and surrounding service area, were provided by SAP Partners Edge, LLC (a subsidiary of Catholic Financial Corporation).
9. Was a survey of parishioners taken to help inform the LRP task force?
Gathering feedback from parishioners was the object of the open meetings in September and October of 2021. Comments and questions from these meetings are being addressed in FAQs (such as this one), which are available on our website at stgabrielhopkins.org/news/long-range-planning. Hardcopies can be obtained in the parish office. Contact Lori Thul, our business administrator, for further information.
10. How can parishioners share additional questions and input?
Between now and the first part of 2022, parishioners may continue to share their questions and comments with the task force. A feedback form has been added to St. Gabriel’s website for this purpose. (Go to stgabrielhopkins.org/news/lrp-comment-form) All questions and comments will be reviewed by a member of the LRP task force.
Parishioners are also welcome to contact Fr. Paul directly.
11. What are the remaining steps of the LRP process and how will updates be communicated?
The LRP task force will meet in January to review these additional comments and questions, and make a recommendation to the pastor and trustees. If that recommendation is accepted, it will be brought to the Archdiocese, where the Archbishop will make a final decision and help the parish in the next steps of the process.
These steps will be communicated to parishioners by announcements at Mass, in the bulletin, and on the parish website.