Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The following pages of the Southern Nebraska Register contain a summary of the Diocese of Lincoln’s annual financial statement for the fiscal year completed on June 30, 2014. This statement is audited by an independent public accounting firm to ensure that it contains accurate information about the financial administration of the Diocese of Lincoln. I am very pleased to share this information with you, so that you can review and understand the financial stewardship of the Catholic Church in southern Nebraska.
The financial report addresses the central administration and ministry offices of the Diocese of Lincoln. It includes the Office of the Bishop, and the Offices of Vocations, Family Life and Evangelization, Education, Finance, Hispanic Ministry, and many others. This report does not include the financial information for related ecclesiastical entities such as parishes and Catholic schools, Catholic Social Services, St. Gregory the Great Seminary, or the Catholic Foundation. Each of these entities, which are administered separately from the Diocese of Lincoln, manage their finances individually, and are subject to the review of the bishop, the diocesan Finance Council, the Holy See, and, in some cases, to independent financial auditors.
I share this report with you because your generous financial stewardship makes the ministries of the Diocese of Lincoln possible. All of us—priests, seminarians, religious sisters, and lay Catholics—are responsible for the mission of the Church. There are more than 90,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln, and each of us is called to proclaim Christ, to witness to the Gospel, and to pray and support the ministry of the Church.
My vocation, as diocesan bishop, is to lead, to coordinate our apostolic activity, and to be a good steward of the responsibilities and the resources the Church has been given.
Many good Catholics assist me in my administrative responsibilities. Under the leadership of Kevin Fitzpatrick, our Diocesan Finance Officer (CFO), the Finance Office of the Diocese of Lincoln works to manage our financial resources, and to ensure that they are used to animate the ministries of the Church. The diocesan Finance Council, led by Council Chairman Fr. John Sullivan, offers advice and oversight to our financial stewardship. This year, I added several lay experts to our Finance Council. Their knowledge and wisdom are invaluable to ensuring the success of our ministry. The priests of the Diocese of Lincoln offer me the insights they gain from administering our parishes and apostolates. The Presbyteral Council, an advisory body of diocesan priests, also helps in a particular way. And I am blessed to hear advice, suggestions, and observations about our apostolic work from Catholics across the Diocese of Lincoln. Thank you for your assistance to me.
This financial report offers several important points for reflection. You might note, for example, that the Diocese of Lincoln annually spends $1.3 million, to support our seminarians. We are blessed with an abundant richness of vocations—48 seminarians—and as the costs of education continue to rise, our expenses continue to rise. You might also note that last year, our annual Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations received $383,436—only a fraction of the cost of vocation expenses. This year, I am very pleased to report that to date, we have received more than $695,000 in the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations! I am awed by your generosity to our seminarians. Again, thank you.
The financial situation of the Diocese of Lincoln is at an important crossroads. Since 2008, the Diocese has spent more than half of its reserve funds to cover our annual expenses and obligations. Costs have risen in many areas of diocesan ministry. Our funds have allowed us to support incredible projects—to support Catholic education in our schools, retired priests, seminarians, and to assist parishes and religious orders with needed building projects.
My goal is to implement the best practices of financial administration to prudently manage our resources. To successfully proclaim the Kingdom of God in the Diocese of Lincoln, we need new resources, and new plans, for the future. The Joy of the Gospel campaign, which many of you have heard about, will allow us to secure future funding for the important work of the Diocese of Lincoln, and to help ensure our financial sustainability well into the future. Thank you for your support of the Joy of the Gospel. I also thank you for your ongoing support of the annual Charity and Stewardship Appeal, which provides critical funds to many of our diocesan ministries.
Everything we have is a grace from God. Every dollar we receive is His gift. Even our ability to work, and to earn, is a grace from God. This is true for the Diocese of Lincoln, for your parish, and for your family. All that we have is a witness to God’s goodness in our lives. When we give our resources to support the works of His Church, we honor what God has done for us. And we also recognize that each of us is a part of the Body of Christ—and is called by God to do all we can to bring the Gospel to the world.
This financial report is a reminder to me of the generosity of the Body of Christ in the Diocese of Lincoln. And it is a reminder to me to be a good steward of our resources. I pray that you will review it carefully, and consider increasing your support for our ministry, on the local and diocesan level. I am most grateful for all that you have done to build the Body of Christ. May we work together to continue to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend James D. Conley, STL
Bishop of Lincoln