BRAINTREE – One of the biggest winners from the first two rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program in Massachusetts and the South Shore is the Archdiocese of Boston, according to an analysis by The Patriot Ledger and a national investigation by The Associated Press.
On the south coast, the church raised $ 13.62 million involving 62 separate entities under its control, including parishes, schools, abbeys, and related organizations.
According to the financial status of the church Since fiscal year 2020, it has obtained $ 35 million from the federal forgivable loan program by contracting 305 loans for archdiocesan-owned or controlled entities, including parishes, parochial schools, central operations, and youth centers.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to ensure that small businesses could continue to pay their employees for a few months during the pandemic. South Shore businesses received at least $ 1.3 billion from the first two rounds of funding from the federal program, though 53 percent of that money was concentrated in 4 percent of the largest companies. The federal government paid off a total of $ 14 billion in forgivable loans statewide.
The loans were supposed to be limited to $ 10 million per company, calculated as 2.5 times the total payroll. The Paycheck Protection Program was initially funded with $ 349 billion, which ended on April 16. It was a funded gain, bringing the total to $ 659 billion, and then it was funded again at $ 284 billion in December.
The $ 13.62 million in loans that Catholic entities received in the South Shore were received between April 8 and May 1. More than 60 percent of the loans were approved before the program ran out of money for the first time.
Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilson said in an email that parish loans accounted for $ 16 million of the total, school loans accounted for another $ 16 million, and central ministries received $ 3.1 million.
Bypass funding limits
After Congress allowed religious and nonprofit organizations to participate in the program, Catholic officials lobbied the Trump administration for a second break. Religious organizations were freed from the so-called “membership rule”, which normally disqualifies applicants with more than 500 workers.
Without that exemption, the amount of money the dioceses could have received would have been much less.
In the South Shore alone, loans paid for 1,025 jobs, well above the normal limit of 500 employees per organization.
Many large publicly traded companies who initially received loans, including the fast food chain Shake shack, he paid back his loans after outrage over their use. TO congressional research found 10,000 loans, totaling $ 1 billion, went to companies that received more than one loan. The ProPublica news organization founded many companies independently used by its affiliates, entities they own or control, to circumvent the $ 10 million per organization limit.
The membership rule was key to the church, nationally and in the South Shore, applying for so many loans for far more money than other organizations were eligible.
Church law says dioceses, parishes, and schools are affiliated. Cardinals and bishops have broad authority over parishes and the pastors who run them.
The Rev. James Connell told The Associated Press that parishes are an organ of the diocese. Connell is a retired administrator and canon attorney for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
When pastors have been contacted by The Patriot Ledger for stories about changes within the church, they have said they were not allowed to speak and directed all questions to the archdiocese.
Catholic institutions also received many times more than other major nonprofits with charitable missions and national reach, such as the United Way, Goodwill Industries, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Overall, Catholic recipients got roughly twice as many as 40 of America’s largest and best-known charities combined, the AP found.
Former Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin said in April that loans over $ 2 million it would receive a “full review,” but it is unclear whether faith-based and other nonprofit organizations will receive the same scrutiny as for-profit companies.
When churches closed their doors to in-person attendance in March, the Archdiocese of Boston had $ 85 million in cash, about a million less than the previous year.
By June 30, 2020, the church’s coffers increased to $ 128 million, reflecting an increase comprised primarily of the $ 35 million in forgivable loans it received from the Paycheck Protection Program.
According to an Associated Press analysis of the archdiocese’s financial statements, the archdiocese had a total of $ 200 million in “available funds” as of June 2019, which increased to $ 233 million at the end of June 2020.
Income of collections and other operations fell between 2019 and 2020 by $ 19.4 million. Expenses also fell by $ 13 million.
Donilson said in an email that the church has been in the pandemic for six more months since the end of the fiscal year, and collection losses continue to mount.
“From an operating profit / loss standpoint, we essentially went from breakeven to a loss of almost $ 6 million in 2020,” he said.
Donilson said the money allowed the church to retain its full-time employees as Easter donations dwindled.
“Some parishes chose not to apply for a PPP loan due to their cash reserves,” he said. “Some parishes were unable to make their payroll after the first month of missed offertory. The needs in our 260 parishes were wide and diverse, and each parish did its own assessment of whether they applied for a loan.”
Among the organizations that received the loans, which the archdiocese said it hopes will be forgiven, are St. Jerome School in Weymouth and St. Francis of Assisi School in Braintree.
St. Jerome School received $ 155,000 while St. Francis of Assisi School received $ 210,000.
The families fought hard keep St. Jerome School in Weymouth open after the archdiocese announced in the summer that it would close the school. He served from preschool through eighth grade. The archdiocese cited a drop in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.
Sue Hannan, St. Jerome’s director of advancement, said the school ended its fiscal year on June 30 with cash reserves of at least $ 430,000, including an estimated $ 130,000 operating surplus, information Hannan said is leaked the families after the archdiocese declined to release. that.
St. Francis of Assisi School has served preschool through eighth grade since 1959. The Archdiocese told families it would close permanently begining of June.
In a letter to the school community, the Rev. Paul Clifford said that COVID-19 has had a “disastrous impact” on the school’s financial condition, making it impossible to provide a “safe, excellent and values-based education” in the future.
Sacred Heart School in Weymouth Landing and St. Francis Xavier School in South Weymouth will combine for the next school year as part of a partnership that will host pre-kindergarten through fourth grade at Sacred Heart, and fifth through eighth grade at St. Francis Xavier.
In total, the archdiocese closed seven schools during the summer, according to their financial statements.
Chancellor John Straub said in the financial statement overview that many schools have gotten lost students back over the years because many of the schools have been operating face-to-face classes rather than the remote or hybrid models that most use. of public schools.
Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes of The Associated Press and Patriot Ledger reporter Jessica Trufant contributed to this story. Contact reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at [email protected].