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State of the Parish September 2019



September 29, 2019.

Last June I began a new tradition. Every June I will offer you my annual report on the status of our parish.  However, it is the end of September.  The reason I delayed the state of the parish is so I could have final financial numbers to give you, and so I had a better understanding of the situation with the renovation of the main church. Like last year, this report includes where the church is financially at the end of this fiscal year 2018-2019, our accomplishments this past year, and a little about what to expect for our next fiscal year.


Last year I stood before you with a discouraging picture of the financial situation for the parish. However, this year I stand before you with good news, but still being very cautious moving ahead.  We need to be prudent and more than ever we need to keep up our financial giving.

Let me begin with the good news. One of the church’s biggest ministries, our school, was budgeted for $79 thousand this past year and ended up only being $42 thousand.  This good news was the result of a lot of hard work to stay in budget at the school.  We budgeted according to the number of students enrolled and we staffed better according to our needs. We need to remember the parish has the obligation to support our youth through our school ministry However, we need to be vigilant in staying within budget while still promoting the school. Remember last year our school ministry cost was over $156 thousand and this year to only $42 thousand. Job well done.

Let me continue with the good news. At the end of the fiscal year 2018-2019, the church finished $86 thousand to the good.  This was in spite of the fact that our weekly collections were down $44 thousand this year.  If we had not had a reduction in some of our staffing costs and business expenses, along with the $37 thousand savings from the school ministry noted before, the church would not have ended up so positive.   But here is when I have to express a very concerning fact, our weekly collections are down.  In the fiscal year 2018-2019, our regular Sunday collections were down $44 thousand dollars.  In the past years, we have seen a decline of Sunday collections. The decline from the fiscal year of 2017-2018, was $45,000. There are a lot of variables in why this likely declined. However, I think we must work towards increasing our Sunday collections.

On July 1st we began the new fiscal year.  We are continuing working to reduce our expenses without compromising the essential ministries in our parish.  However, in order for us to meet our budget, we will need to raise our Sunday collections by $40,000 dollars this year, if we want to meet the amount needed in the budget. If we do not raise our Sunday collections, we are not going to be in a good situation at the end of June 2020. This is the big caution I warned you about at the beginning of the financial report.

I am very happy with the progress we made together to stabilize the financial situation in our church. We need to continue to work to be better and better. I continue to implement new regulations and policies to continue to ensure what is best for our church while providing the best catholic education in Fort Smith for our youth and to have a balanced budget Please remember helping the church is helping us with all our ministries, including the school. I want to thank the finance committee and my staff for all their work to make the budget balance.


Our accomplishments were many. If I were to number every single one, we would be here for the rest of the day. I do not think we want to be here for the whole day.

We accomplished the following:

  • Our new website is up and running. It continues to improve every day. I am very happy with it. It is also mobile friendly. We closed the random Facebook pages and unified them into one. Both church and school. We are living our motto, “One Dream, One Team.”
  • Our church staff has new members since last June 2018. In August of 2018, we welcomed to our staff Katie Kratzberg as our new Advancement/Marketing Director. In the same month we also welcomed to our CTK family Jacinto Vasquez. He is our building and grounds manager. We have our new faith formation director, Cindy Barr as of July 1, 2019.  Also, I hired Melissa Ross as assistant to help with the accounting of the parish. At the school, we hired our new principal, Myndi Keyton. Since July 1, 2019 she has been working hard to keep our school one of the best in Fort Smith. Thank you all for your service and dedication to CTK.
  • We have made some repairs on the roof and air conditioners.
  • Our men’s bathroom in the main church had a complete renovation. I want to thank the Holy Name Society for making this a reality.
  • All doors in the church office and the reconciliation rooms have windows. We are in compliance with our Safe Environment Program.
  • We have worked in our gardens around the campus. Especially Our Blessed Mother’s garden. Thank you to all who help.
  • The church office underwent a major renovation. We removed the carpet, painted the walls and fixed the floor. Our office feels like new and offer a healthier environment.
  • At the school, new TV’s were installed to promote events and update our school with new technology.
  • Our school enrollment is high. We went from 246 students to 284 students. All of us are the best promoters of our school.
  • We added new electronic door locks in our school and our school continues to be safer.
  • Both of the rectories are fully renovated.

These are just a few of the accomplishments from last year.  Many of these tasks were accomplished with the help of many of our own parishioners.


There are still projects unfinished.  Projects that began with the new fiscal year.

  1. We are working on the rental policies for the parish hall. My hope is to have a final rental policy for January 2020.
  2. One of the ongoing projects is installing wireless thermostats. We need to install new thermostats in every room at the school.
  3. Last year I said, the church and the school need identical paper dispensers. We have them. This coming fall, Jacinto will begin the installation.
  4. The air conditioner in our choir loft at the chapel is being worked on. By the end of the fall the installation will be finished.
  5. The spirituality center is being renovated. We are painting the walls, adding light fixtures and redoing the floor. My hope is that by the end of October this will be complete. The vision for the spirituality center is to have meeting space for all our ministries. Also, our old preschool room in the back of the spirituality center will be able to be used for a meeting room. All these new places will be accessible to our parish at the end of October.


After the reassignment of Fr. Norman in June, I am happy to announce on October 1, 2019. We will welcome a new associate pastor.  His name is Fr. Chandra Ery.  Please welcome him and we will have a little gathering for you to meet him.


In March I gave a homily on the state of the main church. Since that homily things have been happening. Let me give you an update. The church still needs to be repaired. However, our own Holy Name Society members have been working on the roof to prevent more water damage.  In our heavy rains this past year we have not seen any water getting into the inside of the structure.  This seems to have bought us more time.  With this in mind, the restoration of the church will cost approximately one million dollars. I looked into different options on how to act on this situation. After consulting, the best option for us is to raise as much of the funds as we can, so we can appropriately fix the church building.  By the end of October, I will finalize a building committee for the project, and I will share with you who the committee members are. One way we will collect for the fund is to add a second collection the first week of every month. Until we have paid for the renovation.  I encourage everyone to help to increase this fund. The Hispanic community will be selling food at Masses some weekends. All of the proceeds will be collected for the building fund. This is the timeline for this project: 1) Finish forming the building committee by the end of October 2019. 2) Make a presentation with the ideas to the whole parish at the end of January 2020. 3) Begin to seek bids and permitting from the city the rest of 2020. 4) Begin renovation May 2021. I will keep you informed with all details regarding this big project.


As I complete my second year here with you all, I continue to make this promise to you: I am here for you; Father Chandra is here for you. There will always be many changes as our parish moves forward on its journey of faith, but I remain committed as your pastor. I love this parish and what it stands for. As I said before, I am not going anywhere because I believe in each of you and what we can do together. I believe our best days are ahead of us and I believe that our Lord is with us always.  I want to thank my wonderful staff. I am truly blessed to have each and every one of you working for our parish and school. Thank you.  I realize, as your pastor, I am not in control of events or what will happen in the future; our Heavenly Father is. For that I am eternally grateful because I am only His servant. I place our parish in His hands every night and pray for each and every one of you and ask St. Therese to intercede for us. A copy of this State of the Parish report will be available on our webpage on Monday September 30. Thank you for your support and may God bless our parish and our families. To Him be the glory forever. Amen