By Dc. Tom Cuskey

The Diocesan Pastoral Council closed out the fiscal and program year with a June meeting at Holy Cross Parish in DeWitt. As usual, the day began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia before the work of the council was taken up in the church’s Yeazel Hall.

Chapter 11 update

Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Stephen Breen gave an update on the Chapter 11 proceedings; his comments marked the end of year three of the process. He reminded attendees that “we chose this path as a more prudent financial path” in the face of having to litigate some 380 cases filed against the diocese. The choice to pursue bankruptcy also allows for all victims to have access to compensation rather than having available funds consumed by one or two large court awards. Breen cited a recent Diocese of Rochester case that was awarded $95 million as an example. He reported that it is hopeful that the diocese will be able to emerge from bankruptcy in 2024. In question and answer, Breen reported that parish assessments to the victims’ fund will be looked at. Attendees were reminded that continued vigilance through ongoing safe-environment efforts and compliance are necessary to ensure that such abuse never happens again.

Hope Appeal

Beth Hoey, director of the Diocesan Foundation, reported that nearly $4.7 million had been received from donors to the Hope Appeal as of the meeting date in the 2022 campaign. Eighty-four parishes that exceeded their goals will receive a total of $741,194 in overage bonus money.

The 2023 campaign will kick off this fall with presentations and a new informational video featuring programs such as the Deaf Ministry Program, Trinity School in Oswego, Formation for Ministry program, Campus Ministry in Binghamton, a Utica-area deacon and elderly services from Catholic Charities in Syracuse.

Hoey asked the council members to pass on to their parish members her gratitude for the generous support of diocesan ministries. “Hope Appeal strengthens our entire diocese and our entire Church, with a capital ‘C’,” she stated, reminding attendees that the campaign enables a wide array of ministries to serve those in need by advancing social justice, empowering parish communities and cultivating Catholic leadership.

In answer to a question, both Hoey and Breen stressed that Hope Appeal donations come under the category of restricted funds for the specific campaign ministries and are not subject to Chapter 11 proceedings and cannot be used to settle victim claims.

Eucharistic Revival

Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ, the Vicar for Religious and Director of Synodal Planning, and Bishop Lucia reported on the upcoming statewide Eucharistic Congress. The event, part of the ongoing Eucharistic Revival, will be held Oct. 20-22 at the North American Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, N.Y. It is anticipated that 10,000 people will attend.

Sister Katie also gave a synod update, speaking of the upcoming gathering this fall in Rome where, for the first time, members of the laity have been invited to join the clergy as voting members of the synod.

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