Diocesan financial administrators from dioceses around Australia gathered in Hobart recently to share their experiences, common issues and common challenges. Source: Hobart Archdiocese.
Held over three days last month, the biennial conference attracted some 28 diocesan financial administrators to engage with the challenging topic of "Managing Church during a period of decline".
Diocesan financial administrator for the Hobart Archdiocese, Ron Ward, described the conference topic as “a pretty heavy-duty statement” and that people shouldn’t pretend that “all is rosy”.
“We have lots of challenges,” Mr Ward said, “So let’s face up to that reality.”
In his welcome letter to the conference attendees, Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous commented that all present would be conscious of the signs of decline within the Church.
“This issue is providing all of us in our respective roles within the Church with a variety of challenges, particularly in maintaining levels of service in parishes and parish communities in our respective dioceses,” he said.
“Future planning in all dioceses will need to factor in possible further limits in financial resources. This begs the question: how do we manage with less money but ensure the mission of the Church does not suffer?”
A jam-packed program saw the diocesan financial administrators engage with presentations as diverse as the National Redress Scheme, superannuation, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, education funding, modern slavery, accounting standards, the necessity of Church archives, and the impact of legislative changes around gender and euthanasia.
Aside from presentations, it is the collegiality that Mr Ward believes is the real benefit of the national conference.
The conference offered an opportunity to build professional relationships – relationships Mr Ward believes should be utilised more often in their day-to-day work as administrators.
“There are a lot of fundamental challenges that are common to all dioceses. Particularly around how they – in their own particular patch – address some of the key social issues of the day,” he said.
“We just come together in goodwill and collaborate, and we all hopefully go away with more knowledge than we had.”
Administrators face up to the reality of challenges (Hobart Archdiocese)