The total amount for the 2019 appeal is $300,000, compared to $253,125 for the 2018 appeal. These amounts are notable, since each community is assessed a goal toward the total, and communities that don't meet the goal for the year are invoiced for the shortfall and must make it up from plate and pledge the following year. The increase from 2018 to 2019 is about 19%. The first question I have is whether it represents a growth in numbers, in which case it imposes no particular burden on existing groups, who can meet their goals with donations from more members, or whether it represents an effective "tax increase".
So I asked both my regular correspondent and another knowledgeable visitor whether any good information has come out recently on how many "members" are in the OCSP. (We could ask, for that matter, how many of these are from the original Anglicanorum coetibus target audience, former Anglicans and Episcopalians, but for now, let's keep things real.) The information we have is conflicting.
Last August, my regular correspondent reported that Sr Amata Veritas, one of the Dominican nuns now in residence at OLW Houston, had been given the task of developing an OCSP census. Apparently this project is complete. My regular correspondent reports,
I know that the OCSP Chancery gathered and submitted parish statistics to the 2018 Official Catholic Directory. This was the first time they did this, I believe. As you can see from the link this information is available only to paid subscribers, but perhaps you know someone who has access to it. I think Sr Amata Veritas has been in charge, pretty much full time, of trying to get parish and Ordinariate membership records in order and the submission to the OCD suggests some success. The numbers are not generally available, inside or outside the OCSP. I note that the bishop's appeal material speaks of the St Alban, Rochester congregation "doubling" and St Margaret, Katy growing "sixfold" which would mean congregations now numbering about 24 and 72, respectively. Percentages clearly look better than actual numbers.The other visitor, closer to Houston, reports that this information is held very tightly there and not generally given out to anyone. But the visitor added,
The numbers will come out, unfortunately, it takes a year or so to correlate and publish the books which house them.This is consistent with my estimates over the past several years that the OCSP numbers no more than the mid-four figures, but if one were to eliminate non-Anglicans, the numbers would be even fewer. On one hand, this indicates that the increase in the bishop's appeal goal is a tax increase, not a reflection of membership growth.
They are required to report those numbers every year and have been doing so since 2012. A link to the site where the reports are published is here. [The most recent years reported, 2014 and 2016, show 6,000 members with no increase.] Maybe the last few years they weren’t reported correctly and they got some sort of a waiver. Or maybe the Vatican stopped believing that the population in the Ordinariate was exactly 6,000 every year for three years in a row.
I suspect if the numbers were much greater than 6,000, we would be hearing all about it. It might have taken that big jump after OLA joined (note the big leap from 2500 to 6000 in just a few years) but not as many made the leap as they wanted and I suspect also the number of parishioners at OLA before the jump was a little exaggerated, too. Given the attrition at OLA and most likely some of these other big groups, I would guess it is a bit of a wash.
On the other hand, this increase falls entirely on US communities, because donations from Canada have drastically declined over the past several years. According to its website, St John the Evangelist Calgary's goal for 2019 is CDN$6055, an amount that has steadily declined from low five figures over the past two years. My regular correspondent surmises this must reflect massive shortfalls. St Thomas More, Toronto has announced on the website that this year's goal is CDN$1,000. In 2017 it was US$2,125. In 2016 it was US$2,500.
This is partly reflected in the fact that only recently has Houston made the necessary changes to make donations to the OCSP bishop's appeal, a US charity, tax-deductible in Canada (an omission that falls entirely on Houston). On the other hand, with that oversight corrected, one might reasonably expect Canadian goals to be increased to reflect the new status. Apparently not, so I would guess that the decline in Canadian donations can also be traced to a drastic decline in interest north of the border.
I would also, if I were an OCSP member, ask why the 2018 appeal asked for $63,281,25 for "communications outreach", while the amount for 2019 has been increased to an even $75,000 -- but as far as my regular correspondent can determine, no issues of the Ordinariate Observer have been published since 2017. Where has this money gone?
Catholics have an obligation to be well-informed. Maybe Mrs Gyapong, a Canadian who specializes in communications, can help us Catholics understand what's going on, both north of the border and in Houston.