In the Diocese of Nashville, we are thankful for the many blessings we receive from a growing and active priesthood, caring and compassionate Catholics, and the resources bestowed upon us. One remarkable and historical blessing during fiscal year 2015 was the ordination of 15 new priests (one has passed away). Yet, the need for new priests continues because in the last five years 27 priests retired/transferred from the diocese while 19 were added. In the next ten years, 21 more priests are expected to retire. Priests will also be needed for up to five new parishes to be opened to address the growth in population and Catholics in our diocese.
The annual financial report for FY 2015 reflects our growth and our challenges. The total assets of the diocese, during FY 2015, increased from $47.0 million to $55.4 million. The change in cash, investments, and net assets is the result of two major transactions during FY 2015: the purchase of the new Catholic Pastoral Center for $12.35 million in cash in August 2014 and a subsequent loan of $8.5 million in June 2015. The loan is to replenish our liquidity.
On a consolidated basis, the financial results of the diocese was a $107,735 loss. The Chancery office ended the year with a $554,872 loss primarily from depreciation ($374,642) and increased grants to parishes and schools ($202,771). Restricted revenue provided a net benefit of $447,137. The combined result was a net asset decrease of ($107,735).
Grants to parishes increased by $135,000. These funds were to parishes who required assistance to make necessary repairs or build expanded facilities. The need for repairs, expanded facilities, and new facilities will continue for the next 25 years as Middle Tennessee continues to grow. In FY 2015, numerous construction projects were in effect: St. Francis Assisi, Dover (rectory); St. Luke, Smyrna (new church); St. Anthony, Fayetteville (hall & classrooms); Holy Family, Lafayette (church, hall, classrooms); St. Francis Cabrini, Lebanon (new church); Church of the Nativity, Spring Hill (church, hall, classrooms); and Our Lady of the Lake, Hendersonville (hall & classrooms); among others. These projects reflect a growing Catholic community. You can support these efforts and the growth of our Catholic faith through direct gifts to these projects and your donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries.
Growing and sustaining our faith is thriving in our diocese. For example, campus ministry programs are expanding to more college campuses. A Sunday mass was added at Belmont University. Did you know the largest designated faith among Belmont students is Catholic? (this is true at Vanderbilt also) The demand for religious education increases at our universities, schools, and parishes. These works of mercy through our various activities is a testimony and witness to our Catholic faith.
Your support of our Bishop’s call for Christian action through the annual appeal for ministries is vital. During FY 2015, the Bishop devoted $3,852,709 to provide help, education, and support to those in need. While the revenue decicated to sustain these necessary charities was only $2,462,700 (a shortfall of $1,390,000). Please consider a donation this year to assist your church in helping others.
Provided at the above link is a designation of how the $14 million in annual diocesan expenses is distributed on a functional basis. More than $9 million is spent to nurture, communicate, and foster our Catholic faith through action. The need grew by $750,000 in FY 2015 compared to FY 2014. Bishop Choby is grateful for your support of these functions through your commitment of time, talent, and treasure. Pope Francis encourages us all to respond generously to Christ’s call to action in living our Catholic faith.
In preparing for our future growth, another historic step forward in the presence and capability of the Diocese of Nashville occurred in FY 2015. The Diocese of Nashville began in 1837 with temporary offices downtown and permanent offices initially constructed adjacent to St. Mary’s of the Seven Sorrows Church. In 1974 (137 years later), the Chancery offices expanded to include 2400 21st Avenue South. In the intervening 40 years, the ministry programs of the diocese continued to grow and expand from two to seven locations. In August 2014, the Diocese of Nashville bought a new facility to house the staff from all seven locations. Today, the new Catholic Pastoral Center at 2800 McGavock Pike provides space for Catholic Charities (110 staff), Iglesia Sagrado Corazon (8 staff and 3,500 parishioners), Tennessee Register (6 staff) and the Diocesan Offices (34 staff), including Adult Ministry (1), Catechetics (1), Catholic Schools (4), Chancery (11), Development (2), Fiscal (6), Human Resources (2), Pastoral Services (1), Tribunal (4), and Youth Ministry (2).
The new facility has enabled the Bishop to consolidate operations and reduce operating expenses. Simultaneously, it has significantly expanded the pastoral outreach and faith-based programs while improving coordination of services. The building is now occupied and buzzing with activity: Engaged Couples Retreats, JPII student retreats, SEARCH activities, Catholic Charities seminars, St. Thomas Hospital seminars, DRE meetings, Bible study, and much more. This facility provides remarkable opportunities for outreach, faith formation, and support of our Catholic presence in Middle Tennessee.
Bishop Choby plans to hold an Open House for the entire diocese. Please look for the announcement in a future issue of the Tennessee Register.
Our overall financial condition is improving but needs your personal support. Please consider a year end donation to your parish, Catholic school, seminarian education, or the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries. Donations can be made payable to the Diocese of Nashville and designated for your special church purpose. Gifts of stock or other assets are appreciated; please contact Sandra Jordan or Bill Whalen at the diocese offices to discuss arrangements.
The diocese’s FY 2014-2015 financial statements were audited by Crosslin & Associates, P.C., certified public accountants. Their clean opinion and full report are posted on the diocesan website.
Thank you and and may God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving.
William J. Whalen, Chief Financial Officer.