Where's the Money ... and Other Questions
$110M raised in StL for parishes & schools that are now closing
In 2017 the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced its Beyond Sunday campaign to fund parish improvements, student scholarships, and school enhancements had raised $110 million, surpassing its $100 million goal.
In January 2022, less than five years later, the Archdiocese embarked on All Things New, a plan to close the very parishes and schools it had raised $110 million “to ensure that the Catholic Church in our area will be secure.” (2016 Annual Report)
Catholics are asking where’s the money? The campaign was led by the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri.
Trust But Verify reached out to the Foundation’s CFO Scott Welz today.
Dear Mr. Welz:
Deadline: 5:00 p.m. ET, Tomorrow, Friday, October 6, 2023.
With the closure of a St. Louis parishes and now the possibility also of closing elementary schools, St. Louis Catholics have been asking about the fate of the Beyond Sunday Funds.
Before I ask my questions, allow me to express my appreciation for the financial information your organization provides donors. You are to be commended. It was very helpful to me.
I have looked at your posted annual reports, 990s, and audited financial statements. Since I publish under the banner, Trust But Verify, it is very important to me that I be as careful and accurate as possible in my reporting.
Based on my review of these documents, I have the following questions.
Is it the case that Catholics made gifts to the Beyond Sunday campaign with the understanding that 60% of funds raised (minus fundraising expenses) would be restricted for Catholic education (scholarships and administrative improvements) and that 40% would be restricted for parishes?
In 2017, it was reported the campaign raised $110M. Did those funds flow directly into the Foundation or did some, or all, of it flow into Archdiocesan accounts?
If the campaign raised $110M with 40% going to parishes and 60% going to education, would it be accurate to say the Foundation allocated $44M to parishes and $66M to education?
Your 2016 Annual Report says: "Forty percent of the funds raised in each parish campaign are returned to the parish to help with specific needs in that community." Could you explain what that means? Does it, for example, mean that if Parish X raises $100K, they can count on forty percent of those funds ($40,000) will be returned to Parish X for "specific needs in that community?"
I see that you have annual spreadsheets showing the allocation of grants to schools, but I'm not seeing similar spreadsheets for allocation of funds to parishes. Could you make that available or provide the link?
As of December 2022, how much has the Foundation expended on parishes? And, as I requested above, can you detail which parishes were recipients of those funds?
As of December 2022, how much has the Foundation expended on Catholic education? Again, can you provide details about the amount spent on scholarships vs dollars granted for school improvements.
In your 2016 Annual Report, you tell Catholics: "Enhanced spending in the first year resulted in an immediate impact: $1.8 million for scholarships and $4.7 million in parish share distributions. This enhanced spending will continue for four additional years." Does this mean that the Foundation expected to stop funding after 2020? What is "enhanced spending?" What is meant by "will continue for an additional four years?"
Your 2019 annual report shows $29.7M placed in a Catholic education endowment fund. Were any funds allocated for parishes placed in an endowment? If so, how much?
What is the current balance of the education fund? If there is a parish endowment fund, what is its current balance?
Thank you for your help.
Publisher, Trust But Verify