I am sending out an SOS to all St. Catherine of Siena parishioners, especially those who have been part of the church for the last 20 years or more. For those are the parishioners who have donated to build a gym at St. Catherine’s church. The gym was an idea that was put together by seven St. Catherine basketball dads/coaches that thought it would be great if the 200-plus CYO basketball kids had a place to play to call their own.
Though we still have over 200 kids in the program, the gym has been declared dead without any dialogue, discussion or opportunity for all voices to be heard.
On October 30, 2019, it was declared that our voice did not matter, and we were silenced. It is for this reason, that I write you this opinion piece to let you know your voice still counts.
As the Chairperson for Fulfilling the Promise campaign, I was shocked to learn that Father Anthony made a unilateral decision to end this project.
Though I should have known better – he has only met with my committee twice in the last two years since he came to St. Catherine’s. Never once during this period did he declare he supported the program. And in the early part of this year he stated he had the Bishop’s full support to not build the gym.
Yet Father Anthony and the Bishop still collected money – even after I asked the Bishop to stop the campaign. I mistakenly thought that the protector and moral compass of the project would be Bishop Barber since he is the ultimate decision maker in all Diocese fundraisers. One would suspect that a Bishop would have a moral and ethical financial compass. It seems, however, Bishop Barber may lack one.
Over the next few weeks, I will explore the history of the fundraising for this project.
I hope to answer tough questions like; Did St. Catherine’s leaders sabotage the opportunity of building a gym to use the money for other projects? Was there fraud involved and was it directly supported by the leadership? Could the gym have been built and why was it not? Is there a culture at the Diocese that chooses to see no evil even we evil is happening and is it spreading into other Diocese in the U.S.?
For those who think the current church leadership was scheming to access the money for their causes, I would say, “I think you could be right.”
Since the project is dead, I am going to make sure every single donor’s voice is heard, that their thoughts are recorded and acted on properly. There is a window of opportunity for all donors to request refunds. I recommend you submit your requests ASAP.
Why? Very simply put, St. Catherine’s does not have the money to refund everyone. Over $2 million was raised for the gym and St. Catherine’s has spent over $700,000 of that money to date. At this moment, St. Catherine’s now sits on $1.8 million in cash. Very basic math calculates that St. Catherine’s is short to repay everyone. On October 30, 2019, St. Catherine’s gave us two options: either redirect the funds towards school or church projects or give it back to the original donors.
I raise caution about redirecting the funds since St. Catherine’s does not have any official projects list-ready with proper oversight; so the money will go to a general fund which would allow the questionable church leaders to spend the money any way they want. I would recommend you request your funds back in writing, specifically stating that St. Catherine’s is obligated to pay for all tax and legal issues that arise from such action.
At this time, you may make the request to the church. However, leaders of St Catherine’s are the ones that shut down your voice. After making the request to the church, email the Bishop. Express your dissatisfaction regarding his and St. Catherine’s leadership with the copy of your request for your money. The Bishop’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you email a copy of your request to email@example.com we will follow-up until it is fulfilled properly.
I am truly sorry that I was not able to get this project done. The political barriers were higher than I thought. I assure you all that I will do everything to make sure your voices are heard over all the b.s that is going on right now and you get your money back.
Please make your voice heard today!
– John Fuller