Saturday, September 27, 2014

Checking and balancing

Delfina is after me again.  She just left a stack of checks on my desk to sign so that we can pay bills this week.   This morning it was a bank form so I could approve adding the new treasurer to the signature card of a parish organization’s account.  There was also a question about someone’s annual leave.
Delfina (Castro) is our business manager here.  Of course, since we have an administrative staff of four (including the volunteer) she does a lot more than any single job description can describe.  For example, she does a great job arranging flowers.
Honestly, Delfina is not always after me.   Most days, people are after her.  At some point a teacher will come by to deal with a withholding or insurance issue, but usually it is the phone – vendors and such.  Then there are the folks who take responsibility for all the groups in the parish who make things happen.  First and foremost among these is, of course, the CYO, but the Tuesday Club and the Home School Association are in a dead heat for close second.  Add to that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the school Gala, the Fall Festival, a new account for our Haiti mission, and the upcoming youth pilgrimage or a class field trip, and pretty soon you have a crowd. 
One of the coolest things about the entire process she oversees is the incredibly precise tracking of donations.  Now there are plenty of folks here who throw whatever cash they have loose on their persons into the collection baskets, but that is neither a complicated nor a large sum to track. 
But the minute someone hands in a check, or an envelope, with an identifiable name on it, and (or) a designation for the donation, every detail gets recorded.  We have folks who give large checks with detailed lists of what amounts(s) should be taken from them for an array of purposes.  We get hand-written names on those “welcome” envelopes, or “memo” lines on checks that explain what the donation is for.  We have second collections and special collections, bequests and sacramental offerings, donations for repairs to the rectory, memorial gifts and offerings for altar flowers on a particular weekend, and anonymous help with a specific family’s tuition bill. 
Every gift goes precisely to its designated use, and nowhere else, down to the last penny.  And at the end of every January, every donor gets a detailed report suitable for presentation to the IRS.  If people only knew how much work goes into that incredibly conscientious stewardship of their offerings to God!   But in a way, that’s the easy part, and definitely the joyful part.
The Archdiocese demands a lot of her time too, as she deals with Human Resources and the Controller’s office and all the technical systems associated with them.
And speaking of systems – hoo-boy have we had a couple of years!  In its serene wisdom, our Archdiocese a few years back introduced a sweeping new program of technology to manage data for accounting, personnel, payroll, and school data.  You will be shocked – shocked I tell you! (unless you regularly read Dilbert in the comics) -- to learn that this massive rollout did not go smoothly.  The technical people had a lot of harsh things to say about Delfina, whose fault they said it all obviously was.  Now, however, suddenly the Archdiocese is announcing that the new systems do not work as intended and maybe we shouldn’t all be using them after all. 
So after two years of being, shall we say, not in a position to control some portion of the information and technology that we need to manage the material aspect of this huge parish organization, Delfina and I finally have recovered (mostly) from the impact of mandated and problematic technological changes.
Delfina is after me again – thank goodness!
Monsignor Smith

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