National Federation of Priests' Councils
Priests, News, Catholic Priesthood, Ministry, Church
Three years ago, the NFPC Board updated our Mission and Vision statements. We are currently exploring how we can update what we offer to the U.S. presbyterate.
What we do today to fulfill our mission will be different from what was needed in the past. Because we are no longer dealing with the more volatile issues (due process, priest personnel assignment, continuing education, in-depth research), our support now is often more “behind-the-scenes.” Because of that, in many cases, we have become somewhat invisible to the presbyterate.
We offer four excellent programs, a weekly e-letter with news and other information, connection with all arch/diocesan priests’ councils, sharing of Council Notes, a website and social media presence, a Tax Guide for priests, research work with CARA, the Touchstone periodical, Priest-Labor Initiative, and the yearly National Convocation. Moreover, we are a clearinghouse for information, a place to call and ask for speaker recommendations or for connections between councils to share program ideas or questions.
As written in the NFPC Constitution, all arch/diocesan priests’ councils representing the priests of the local church are members of NFPC. A council which submits to the NFPC its intent to participate along with a copy of its statutes (Canon 496) and pays the assessment fee is considered an active member council. A council which does not submit a letter of intent to participate or pay the assessment fee is considered an inactive member council.
Although we serve all U.S. priests’ councils, our active members bear the burden of financial costs through yearly dues: reasonable per individual priest ($35/year), but up to $15,500/diocese.
Currently, all dioceses can receive the benefits without the financial investment. Even with member discounts on programs or convocation costs, many feel it is financially wiser to not pay the dues and just pay a little extra for the specific program they may want, or for the individual convocation attendee.
As our membership process stands now, the top reason for paying the membership fees is to support the entire U.S. presbyterate by allowing NFPC to continue….a positive ideological goal not always supported by straining arch/diocesan financial pressures or newer priests who see no visible activity for their dues.
One of the most important things we do as an organization is to connect priests’ councils. Our yearly national convocation is an outstanding way to do this.
We sent out a Convocation Attendance survey last January and received much interesting information. Even though most thought the convocation is a great idea, they struggle to attend. There is so much for them to do in their parishes and/or with their work in the arch/diocesan offices. Often they just can’t get away.
Another way we attempt to connect the arch/dioceses is to share their council minutes with other councils. We’ve worked steadily to try to encourage all the arch/dioceses to send us their council minutes, clearly explaining that our Managing Director, who has been editing council notes for 18 years now, will not release any sensitive information in the edited version, and we provide clear and numerous examples in our Council Notes.
We currently have only 15 arch/dioceses sending us their council minutes; the rest do not choose to trust us with the information from their meetings. Unfortunate, and understandable.
Another area in which NFPC focused in the past was research. For at least ten years, NFPC has been in the business of “commissioning" research on priests, and grants were a part of our sustenance. There were also grant-related special projects like the Spirituality of American Priesthood. For all these initiatives, books were published which generated more income, and as importantly, helped give NFPC publicity on the national scene. Included in this is the Emerging Models Project, which lasted approximately 10 years; that income has all but dried up.
As far as current research is concerned, for the most part, the longitudinal priests’ study that CARA will do on our behalf is all we still have. In addition, when the writer of the old “Income Taxes for Priests Only” began his own publishing house in 2011, we lost about $10,000 annually. We do produce and publish a quality version of the income tax book for priests, which still generates income and provides a needed assistance to priests.
However, currently research, and the income it provides, has been severely reduced in our present operations.
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