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Archdiocesan affiliates gather to discuss operational best practices

Paul Kiley from McGladrey LLC addresses the archdiocesan affiliates on organizational effectiveness and financial controls at a workshop held at the Pastoral Center Nov. 2. Pilot photo/George Martell

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BRAINTREE -- More than 25 leaders of archdiocesan affiliates gathered at the Pastoral Center on Nov. 2 to create connections, learn about archdiocesan resources, discuss common challenges, and review operational best practices that increase organizational sustainability.

In attendance were representatives from archdiocesan schools, including Cristo Rey Boston, Trinity Catholic Academy, Pope John Paul II Academy and Marian High School, and from Church ministries such as the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, Regina Cleri Residence, iCatholic Media, Pontifical Mission Societies, St. Ann's Home, Life Resources and the Massachusetts Catholic Insurance Group.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley began the session with Mass in Bethany Chapel commemorating the Feast of All Souls Day. "We are here to learn best practices at being effective stewards of our temporal goods," he stated in his homily. "Effective stewardship today involves strong boards, transparency, and a good system of internal controls."

He concluded his homily by asking attendees to consider their important roles in working for Church agencies. "As we commemorate on this First Friday all the souls of the faithful departed, we remember all of the good stewards who have gone before us making our archdiocese a more effective beacon of hope to so many that we serve. May you and your organizations continue to provide faithful service to all the people in the archdiocese of Boston for many years to come."

After Mass concluded, Chancellor John Straub began the workshop in the Pastoral Center auditorium. Straub said the meeting was a follow-up to a June session for affiliate leaders and trustees that discussed common practices of successful organizational leadership. Joseph C. Mahoney, a partner at McGladrey LLP, which moderated the workshops, added that agency and school directors remarked at the June session that they would benefit from a peer discussion on some of the key topics.

Paul Kiley, a risk management director at McGladrey, then led the group in a discussion of the challenges addressed in June such as limited resources, board engagement, competing priorities and finding great staff members on a limited budget. Attendees shared ideas for effective board briefings, stakeholder updates, and effective internal financial controls when there is a small financial staff.

McGladrey was selected by the chancellor's office to moderate the session because they have a particular expertise in not-for-profit consulting, tax and audit work.

Maureen Creedon, archdiocesan director of finance, said that, "Joe (Mahoney ) and Paul (Kiley) both volunteer their time with archdiocesan entities, so they are familiar with us and understand the challenge of balancing the organization's mission with appropriate governance and controls. We are grateful for the time and expertise McGladrey has so generously provided."

"The session was quite helpful," said Scot Landry, president of iCatholic Media. "It's always good to review the operational fundamentals that help an organization to thrive. None of the ideas are necessarily new, but it's helpful to ensure they are top-of-mind. My favorite part of the session was hearing other organizational leaders report to their boards. Everyone seemed to be doing it differently so a lot of good approaches were shared."

Future sessions are planned.

"These sessions will continue and branch off into three tracks and then re-convene with an annual summit," stated Kevin Kiley, archdiocesan director of budget and planning. "The first track will be for executive directors/presidents that will focus on strengthening board relationships and operational effectiveness. The second track will involve finance directors/CFOs and will cover internal controls, financial risk management and purchasing efficiencies. The final track will be for affiliate trustees, and will center on management relationships and strategic planning."

Creedon added that gathering affiliate leaders together is one of many areas in which the chancellor's financial and administrative team strives to assist Catholic organizational affiliates.

"A number of our affiliates utilize the legal, risk management, and benefits management services provided by our team in the Pastoral Center. In addition, we currently provide accounting, bookkeeping, external audit management, payroll, bill payment, cash collection processing, bank account management, and financial statement preparation for some of our affiliates. We have the ability to leverage the people and systems within the Pastoral Center should an affiliate decide that it is a more cost effective alternative for them," she said.

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