Parish Self-study Report

May 30, 2010

Dear St. Charles Borromeo Parish Family,

The document that follows is a copy of our parish’s response to the diocesan self-study survey and is the final parish-specific submission required in the Reconfiguration Planning Process.  Every parish in the diocese was asked to submit their Self-study Survey Report by May 18.  The Diocesan Planning Commission will review all parish information and self-study responses over the summer and report back on behalf of the bishop to each parish in September.

We extend our Thanks to all parishioners for their contributions to the preparation of our parish self-study report.

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Edward Doran, Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Trustees, and Parish Finance Committee

St. Charles Borromeo Church

21 Sidney Place

Brooklyn, NY  11201

Parish  Self-study Survey Response

As an introduction to our Parish Feedback Response, we wanted to provide some background on how the data and information was gathered.  Our goal was to reach the largest audience of parishioners to ensure our response reflected the views of the parish as a whole.

On Sunday, March 21 we included an insert in the bulletin that provided parishioners with background on the Diocesan Strategic Planning Process and summarized information on the spiritual and social life, and financial health of the parish.  Then on Sunday, April 11 we provided parishioners with a bulletin insert that summarized where we were in the strategic planning process, laid out the survey questions for which we would be seeking their input and thoughts on Sunday, April 18, and Sunday, April 25, and reviewed the year-end financials for 2007 through 2009 with a forecast for 2010.  All this information was also made available on our parish website.

On Sunday, April 18 after the gospel reading, we used approximately 30 minutes during each Mass to ask the parishioners for their thoughts on the survey questions.  Fr. Ed led the discussions and members of the Pastoral Council, Trustees, and Finance Committee helped manage the discussion and recorded parishioners’ responses.  On April 18 there were 157 parishioners at the 9:00 a.m. mass, 178 at the 10:30 a.m. mass and 169 parishioners at the 7:00 p.m. mass and parishioners actively participated in the discussions at each mass.  Parishioners were also invited to meet members of the Pastoral Council, Trustees, and Finance Committee in the Baptistry after each mass if they wanted to talk or discuss the survey and the process further and there were a number of parishioners who did participate in these sessions.

We included a summary of the responses and discussion from April 18 in the Sunday, April 25 bulletin and asked parishioners to review this information and invited them to meet us in the Baptistry after each mass if they did not have a chance to participate in the discussion on the prior Sunday.  Parishioners were also invited to respond via email or the parish website and several parishioners did respond via the internet.

We feel that the above methods allowed us to gather feedback from the greatest possible audience of parishioners and helped make this an open and inclusive process.  The responses below are the product of the sessions described above.

1.  What are the signs of vibrancy in your parish?

The parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo identified a number of diverse ways in which they see signs of vibrancy in our parish including:

  • There has been and continues to be a growing number of young families with infants, toddlers, and young children attending Mass regularly.
  • The choir and the way it has gotten the parishioners to raise their voices in praise of God.
  • The presence of beautiful flower arrangements on the altar every week.
  • The large group of parishioners that contributed their time and talent to creating a Meditation Garden in the overgrown lot on the side of the church.
  • The continued growth in the number of people that volunteer their time and take leadership roles for various church projects and programs.
  • The new parish committees and the growing number of activities for the parish.
  • That we continue to see an increase in the number of people joining the parish, attending mass, and the large number of young people, including college students, that attend the 7 PM Sunday Mass.
  • There are more people serving on the altar.
  • The number of children enrolled in our Faith Formation program – over 40 children.
  • The fact that parishioners are coming to Coffee Hours and Spaghetti Dinners, and parish concerts, and are getting to know each other and want to be at St. Charles.
  • Parishioners taking ownership of the church by volunteering their time and talents to help.
  • The numbers of children that participate in the Children’s Liturgy.
  • The new pre-school/nursery school program which is held monthly.
  • The potential opportunities for greater and continued partnership with St. Francis College on pastoral, educational, and social programs.
  • Finally, St. Charles Borromeo led the Diocese in the percentage of parishioners that participated in the 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal with 83.64%.  The parish exceeded our goal of $27,954 by $45,280, with the average amount of parishioner’s contributions being $530.

2. What is the greatest strength of your parish?

Our Pastor Fr. Ed and his ability to engage the people of the parish and our parishioners.

3.  What are the greatest concerns or challenges facing your parish now and in the projected future?

  • We need to improve our ability to evangelize and increase the number of parishioners in our parish family and to continue to motivate all our parishioners to share their Time, Talents, and Treasure with the parish to the degree to which they are able.
  • We need to improve our financial stewardship of the parish in order to better stabilize our finances so that we are able to maintain our parish properties, serve our parishioners, and perform community outreach to those that need us.
  • We need to continue to work with the diocese and other parishes to grow the numbers of men and women interested in vocations.
  • Continue to ensure that young families enroll their children in our religious education program and that we keep the children and their parents engaged and identify ways to engage and hold on to teenagers.  We need to identify ways to create volunteer activities for children to bring them into the church, actively engage them, and keep them coming back.
  • The need to identify an appropriate tenant to lease the school to reduce the burden of its upkeep on the parish.
  • Learn to tell the positives about what the Church does and provides to lessen the impact of the attacks on the Pope and the Church.
  • The need to engage our parishioners so that they are motivated to attend weekly mass and participate in the parish family so that we all become more than just Sunday Catholics.
  • The need to increase our presence in the community and make the parish a focal point of the community.
  • Understand how to better engage and work with those Catholic families who live in the neighborhood, but spend weekends elsewhere.

4.  Which of these challenges do you feel the parish can address or has been addressing?  How?

We have started to address and have had success in the following areas: increasing parishioners’ stewardship, growing attendance at Mass, increasing the number of volunteers that participate in the lay ministries and give of their time and talents to the parish, identifying potential tenants for the school, identifying ways to reach-out to Catholics in the community.

We have done this by:

  • Openly and honestly reporting on parish finances, explaining our financial needs, recruiting a parishioner to serve as Parish Treasurer, and strengthening the Parish Financial Committee.
  • Under the pastoral leadership of Fr. Ed we are seeing a growth in the number of parishioners and others that attend mass and spread the word to others about the relevant, inspiring and engaging sermons he delivers.  And our new Parish Evangelization / Marketing Committee continues to identify opportunities to spread the word about St. Charles and our mission.  This past Easter season six adults were received into the Church.
  • When folks see others volunteer that often inspires them to volunteer.  As a result, we are seeing an increase in the number of people of all ages that have become or are training to become Eucharistic Ministers; a Decorating Committee was formed and ensures that there are flowers on the altar every weekend and has instituted a regular program to clean the church; the Garden Committee was started in 2009 and salvaged the dirt lot on the side of the church and created a Meditation Garden; the Activities Committee instituted monthly Coffee Hours during which parishioners have an opportunity to socialize and get to know one another; we began to host a Spaghetti Dinner about once a month after the 7 pm Sunday Mass and it has been very successful; we began a November Concert with the first held in 2008 to celebrate the parish’s 160th Anniversary (it was very successful) and now host a concert every November; and those serving on the Evangelization / Marketing Committee have developed creative ways to spread the word about the parish to the community through both traditional and new media outlets.
  • There is an active process underway and several potential tenants have submitted Letters of Interest regarding the leasing the parish school.
  • The Family Faith Formation Program continues to serve our parish children as well as look for ways to actively engage their families in the fabric of the parish.

5.  Which challenges seem beyond the ability of the parish to adequately address with your current resources?

To be honest, we do feel that over time we can address all the challenges facing our parish except one, the fact that Fr. Ed Doran is one person and could use help in the form of a Deacon to support him in the parish pastoral program and to meet our growing spiritual needs.

6.  What are your pastoral priorities for the next 5 years?

  • Evangelization to grow and motivate the greater involvement of parishioners of all ages in both the pastoral and social life of the parish.
  • Motivating parishioners to grow their financial stewardship of the parish.
  • Outreach to those in need in the neighborhood.
  • Working with young families to identify how we can better serve their needs to ensure we continue to build a foundation for the future.
  • Partnership with St. Francis College as well as outreach to Brooklyn Law School, NYU, and Pace University dorm and day school college students.

7.  What ministries need to develop or be strengthened in the next 5 years?

  • Evangelization / Marketing
  • Stewardship
  • Adult Faith Formation
  • Ministry to teens and young adults
  • Social ministry outreach to the many under-served groups in the downtown Brooklyn area.
  • The Parish Vocation Committee needs to be strengthened with resources to generate awareness of the ministerial needs of our parish and Diocese.

8.  Based on your review of parish financials, do you believe that the parish is financially sound and sustainable for the next 5 years?  What factors lead you to this determination?

Yes, we do believe that St. Charles Borromeo Parish is financially sound and sustainable for the next 5 years.  We have been experiencing increased stewardship in both financial and voluntary efforts from multiple parishioners.  As a result of our Fall Giving Campaign and extensive communication about the parish’s financial status, we have witnessed increased giving in both our weekly Sunday collection and Catholic Appeal donations.  Our parishioners have generously donated their time and talent which has allowed us to cut expenses while increasing participation in parish activities.

Currently, we are in formal dialogue with potential partners to lease both the school and rectory buildings.  Once completed, this partnership will relieve the parish of the need to fund the on-going maintenance of the rectory and school buildings.

We are running at a slight surplus for FY ’10 and expect to continue to operate at this pace for the next 5 years.

9.  How does the parish plan to address any financial challenges that exist or may emerge?

We plan to fund future financial needs through both increased giving (we plan to make the Fall Giving Campaign an annual event) and growing parish membership, each of which will involve the continuing education of our parishioners about stewardship.

As mentioned earlier, our Evangelization / Marketing Committee, combined with our Activities Committee, continue to develop programs to increase awareness of and involvement in St. Charles and its parish life.  Through our website we are reaching out to inform and invite potential new members to participate and ultimately join St. Charles Borromeo.

We will fund the required maintenance for the rectory and school buildings through a loan that will in turn be paid down using the future school lease payments.

10.  What is the status of all parish buildings?  Are there any capital repairs to any buildings that you anticipate in the next 5 years?  Do you have any buildings that have the potential to be rented or used in an adaptive manner?

There are repairs needed for the parish buildings.  The church needs a new roof, gutters, and to be painted, and the parish school is in need of a new roof and windows.  The parish convent is also in need of repair.

The parish is in the process of vetting potential tenants to lease the parish school and possibly the rectory.  Once leased, the rental income will be used to pay off the costs of the repairs to the church and the school and to ensure that the church properties are maintained in good repair.

Once the rectory and school are leased, minor renovations will be necessary as we relocate the parish office and Father’s living quarters

11.  How do you see your parish collaborating with other parishes in the future?

We already collaborate with the other parishes in our cluster on the training and confirming of our yearly Confirmation class.  There is also an opportunity to expand that collaboration to include adult education and other pastoral programs.  With our proximity to St. Francis College, we see ourselves partnering with them on both pastoral and social programs.  We also see an opportunity to collaborate with other parishes both in and out of our cluster to improve our technology and internet capabilities so that we can be more proactive in reaching out and responding to our parishioners.

St. Charles, together with our sister parishes in the cluster, facilitated a link with the Diocesan Pastoral Institute through the 10-week Theology Program and is continuing support of the three-year training program being offered at St Francis College.  We seek to work jointly to create a vibrant presence of the Catholic Church in the Brooklyn Heights area.

12.  What is your hope for your faith community in the coming years?

That we continue to engage and motivate Catholics in the local community to join St. Charles Borromeo, participate in the life of the parish and share their time, talents, and treasure with the parish so that we are able to provide a spiritual home for Catholics in the Brooklyn Heights community and beyond.  We have been a presence here for over 160 years and we hope to re-establish St. Charles as a focal point and participant in the community.