Priests’ council approves budget, discusses vocations, 24-hour reconciliation event

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor

The Presbyteral Council recommended approval of a 2015-2016 balanced budget for offices of the Diocese of St. Cloud and discussed the possibility of establishing parish vocations committees and organizing a 24-hour event focused on the sacrament of reconciliation.

The approximately $5.4 million budget approved by the priests’ council includes a 2 percent increase in diocesan assessments as well as a projected 8 percent increase in health insurance costs beginning Jan. 1, 2016, Joseph Spaniol, the diocese’s chief finance officer explained at the council’s March 17 meeting at the chancery in St. Cloud.

The last increase in diocesan assessments was in 2013, he said. The budget also assumes a 6 percent return on investments, Annual Diocesan Appeal revenue of $1.125 million, a 1 percent increase in wages, and support for 19 seminarians — seven at the major seminary level and 12 in college seminary formation.

The draft budget also will be reviewed by the diocesan Finance Council before Bishop Donald Kettler approves a final budget.

The council also:

• discussed vocation discernment and priestly formation as possible topics for presentations at the annual clergy conference in October. Bishop Kettler said he would like there to be broader consultation available to the Vocations Office to assist it in evaluating those discerning a vocation to the priesthood. He also would like to see the formation of parish vocations committees, which might be able to offer some assistance to the office. Father Greg Paffel, pastor of parishes in Sauk Centre and West Union, said it would be important to outline a clear mission and purpose for the committees.

• discussed a proposal by Father Robert Kieffer to organize a 24-hour event at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, likely during Lent, at which the sacrament of reconciliation would be offered. Similar events have been held in Rome and the Archdiocese of Chicago with the aim of drawing more people to the sacrament by making it available around the clock. Council members discussed whether the event should be held in other locations around the diocese as well. They will talk about the idea at their next deanery meetings in light of Pope Francis’ recent decision to convoke a Holy Year of Mercy and address the proposal further at the council’s next meeting May 12.

• continued its discussion on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” regarding the extent to which an encounter with, and outreach to, the poor is incorporated into parish life.