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Bishop Ellison alerts Catholics

Aug 18, 2010, 2:51 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

Bishop Robert Ellison sent his Sang Marie Message on Diocesan Finance to keep his sheep informed about their responsibility. Bishop is aware that some of his flock would appreciate the message and somewhat others would find it unsuitable on the occasion of their patronal feast of Our Lady of the Assumption. Sang Marie is an eye-catching feast and others believe any message coming to the lay faithful would be appreciated. The letter was sent to all Catholic Churches of the Diocese of The Gambia. Panorama follows the trend to report what is supposed to be known.

Bishop Ellison says, "Following the workshop on Finance that took place at the Gambia Pastoral Institute on the 14th July 2010, a number of practical suggestions re-funding for the Diocese were accepted as proposed. And so, I am using the occasion of the Patronal Feast of our Diocese, to communicate these "action points" to the entire Catholic Community."

My dear Brothers and Brothers in Christ, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption commonly known as Sang Marie, I wish to share with you some issues concerning the Diocese of Banjul. This has to do specifically with the financial standing of the Diocese.

Bishop Ellison pointed out that the Diocese has, until recently been overly dependent on financial support from overseas, dwindling as a result of the impact of the Global Financial crisis. He said they do not expect this to improve hence the need for them to start looking inwardly to guarantee the sustainability and independence of the Diocese of Banjul. "It was as a result of this that I convoked the Diocesan Assembly held in April 2008 to help us map out the way forward for the Diocese to be self reliant and dynamic. But the impact of the Global Financial crisis on the Diocese still persists as we continue to spend much more than the income that we generate locally and which is supplemented but the small support that continues to come from overseas.

Bishop further said that with the support of the Diocesan Finance Committee, they have managed to gradually reduce the continued drain on the meagre reserve funds of the Diocese. He said they have also during the period, managed to almost computerized the accounts of the Diocese after the reconciliation of a long backlog of Bank Accounts.

The Diocesan Finance Committee has managed to reasonably tackle the financial issues that the Diocese is faced with and also helped in some fund raising. We now have annual budgets being prepared with regular monitoring of the financial performance of the Diocese. But we still continue to spend more than we earn, though the benefit is being gradually reduced through cost containment efforts along with some incremental revenues being realised from the assets of the Diocese. The recent successful Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony was one such effort and I wish to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you who came to support the Gala Dinner. I trust that many more of you will be present at the next one to be organised by the Diocesan Fund Raising Sub Committee," Bishop Ellison said.

Bishop Ellison CSSp further said that in further complementing the ongoing efforts, the Diocesan Finance Committee have looked at some other alternatives in the area of fund raising efforts to further reduce the annual deficit. This was what consequently led to the recent workshop helped at the GPI on 14th July 2010. He said the workshop came up with salient suggestions, which "I wish to formally launch today, hoping that all will come forward and willingly support your own Diocese," he said.

1.         That all-working salaried Catholics shall contribute to the Diocesan Solidarity Fund a specified amount spread over twelve months by way of a fixed Standing Order with their Banks until such a time as they may wish to cancel or increase the fixed monthly amount. The Diocese provides for eight dependent parishes on their basic allowance to the tune of D98, 000.00 per month.

2.         That all self employed persons and companies owned by Catholics shall also pledge and contribute a specific amount at their discretion, payable either monthly by way of a Standing Order with a Bank or annual payment of the Diocesan Solidarity Fund.

3.         Starting January 2011, it is mandatory for all Parishes in the Diocese of Banjul to contribute without exception to the Diocesan Fund as follows in accordance with the Category that they have been assigned to:

4.         Category 1: D15, 000

Category 2: D10, 000

Category 3: D 3, 000

The amount should be fully paid each year on or before 30th September.

The Bishop also mentioned something on the Mandatory 20% contribution from Parish Fund Raising Activities as agreed at the Diocesan Assembly held in April 2008.

Bishop appealed and said he appreciates the difficulties that his flock may be faced with but "this is our Diocese calling for your help. We cannot continue to sink deeper into a debt which could become more and more difficult to erase."

Bishop finally thanked all in support and wish that all families would have an enjoyable and peaceful Sang Marie.