Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am happy to share with you the Diocese of Lincoln’s 2016-2017 financial report.
The Diocese of Lincoln has been blessed abundantly by God’s grace, and by your generosity. We rely on the Providence of the Lord, and as we continue to work towards financial sustainability in all ministries and apostolates of the diocese, I am grateful for the ways you have responded to the Lord’s call to support the mission of the Church here in Southern Nebraska.
Over the past fiscal year, the Diocese of Lincoln has been able to make progress on many significant financial challenges. Through your generous pledges and contributions to the Joy of the Gospel campaign, we have been able to contribute $5.8M to our priest retirement fund, bringing the fund from 44% funded in 2015 to 75% funded in 2017. Plus, as additional pledges are contributed, we have implemented a model of annual funding that will allow us to keep current with our retirement obligations. In addition, we have implemented new policies and procedures to ensure that fundraising, building, and maintenance projects in the Diocese of Lincoln are undertaken prudently and responsibly. We have increased the number of lay experts advising the diocese through four new Diocesan Finance Council standing committees including an Investment Committee; Deposit, Investment and Loan Committee; Audit and Accounting Committee; and Real Estate Committee.
At the same time, we have seen the fruits of your stewardship do great things for the Lord. Your continued commitment to the Joy of the Gospel campaign allows us to distribute Flavin and Francis Fund grants to support innovation in our schools, to undertake new projects for the sake of the New Evangelization, to expand St. Gregory the Great Seminary, and to support the work of the Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of Nebraska. Your support of the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations allows us to continue forming seminarians, and to celebrate five ordinations to the priesthood this year. And your support to our parishes and schools allows us to continue to proclaim the Gospel, serve the poor, and form missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Diocese of Lincoln does, however, continue to face financial challenges. We continue to work toward achieving a balanced budget in the programs and apostolates of the Diocese of Lincoln. We depend on your support of the Joy of the Gospel campaign to accomplish the work of the Church. We especially depend on your generosity to the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations. Supporting our seminarians constitutes 23% of our annual operating budget. Without your support for the Bishop’s Appeal for Vocations, the Diocese of Lincoln cannot form young men for the priesthood without exceeding our resources.
As many of you know, the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at the University of Nebraska continues to raise funds to repay the costs of its new facility, which was completed in 2014. The expenses associated with construction at the Newman Center are a serious and ongoing challenge in the Diocese of Lincoln. Because you are being asked to support so many worthy projects across the Diocese, I have asked the Newman Center to focus on continued fundraising outside the diocese in order to fill the gap in construction funding. However, many of you know the extraordinary impact the Newman Center has on our diocese. If the ministry of the Newman Center has blessed you or your family, I encourage you to pray about and support our efforts to fund its building project.
By God’s grace, and with your help, the Diocese of Lincoln has formed a plan to reach healthy financial sustainability, and we continue to work to achieve that plan. We have a solemn responsibility to act as faithful stewards of the Lord.
I invite you to review our 2016-2017 financial report carefully, and I thank you for your continued support to the ministry of the Diocese of Lincoln. We are all called to stay the course, to give generously, and to continue trusting in the Providence of the Lord.
Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln