Membership in the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference (DFMC) is open to all arch/dioceses and eparchies of the Catholic Church, and is represented by lay, religious and clergy, who by appointment of their diocesan bishop have responsibilities in fiscal and/or administrative matters for their arch/dioceses. Annual membership dues are assessed according to the population of each arch/diocese.
To provide leadership in fiscal management to the Catholic Church.
DFMC Core Work
- Providing leadership in the area of fiscal management.
- Training and formation – conference, certification, seminars.
- Development of resources.
- Provide service-based learning opportunities.
- Networking and building collaborative engagement and learning opportunities.
History of the DFMC
The concept of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference came into being in 1969. The idea of a conference for people involved in financial management of dioceses developed at the National Catholic Stewardship Conference in Denver in 1969. A luncheon discussion evolved into an evening meeting in the hotel’s cocktail lounge. Those attending this first “planning meeting” were Father Joseph Herron of Camden, Father Francis Tambellini of Greensburg, Mr. Don Cozzetti of Tucson, Mr. Dick Belknap of Denver, Mr. John Hurson of Dallas, and Mr. William Hinkes of Paterson.
At the time, these visionaries were all relatively new in their positions. They felt that stewardship concepts were interesting, but as financial managers they had a broader area of concern. Each of them had different backgrounds, each one of them was learning a good deal on their own and agreed that it made sense to gather occasionally to share their experiences. They met with Archbishop James V. Casey of Denver the next day and found him to be very supportive of their ideas. He agreed to write to his fellow bishops to determine their level of interest in such a conference. The response was very positive, and the same group met in January 1970 in Denver to plan for the first conference.
This was soon after Vatican II and the concept of laity in positions of authority within the Church was still unique. One of the major concerns was in how this group would be perceived. They did not want it to appear in any way as a potential movement to consolidate power, and therefore stated specifically from the beginning that the purpose of the conference was strictly for the exchange of information. There was a special effort not to appoint a Chair, and they maintained a majority of priests on the Executive Committee. Corporate sponsors were not allowed in order to avoid implications that some corporations had an inside track to the finance people. All participants had to be representatives of a Diocese. In keeping with the emphasis on providing a forum to exchange ideas, all meals were provided as part of the conference to keep the group together, and hospitality suites were held each evening to encourage informal meetings and discussions. No guest programs or tours were offered during the first few years – strictly business!
The first conference was held in October 1970 in Denver under the patronage of Archbishop Casey and was attended by approximately 40 priests, 30 laymen, and one (1) Bishop (the newly ordained Bishop Medeiros of Brownsville who later became Cardinal Archbishop of Boston).
After the 1970 conference, eight members were added to the Executive Committee, and three more were added in 1972. The original group phased out of the Executive Committee by 1973 and three (3) year rotating terms were established. In order to maintain some continuity, Jack St. Martin was elected to continue as ongoing Executive Secretary, and served with great distinction until his retirement in 1988.
In 1988 the Conference went through a revitalization or renewal in an effort to be of greater benefit and service to the changing demographic membership mix. As a part of this renewal, the Executive Committee became the Board of Directors. The current set of bylaws was adopted. A Strategic Plan was adopted for a five-year period.
In November 1989, Joseph J. Estafen, the former CFO the Archdiocese of Atlanta, became the first Executive Director of the DFMC. This position was part time and Mr. Estafen worked from his home and was assisted in secretarial duties by his wife, Madeline. It was at this time that a two-year pilot period was established for a National Office, with voluntary diocesan dues. Estafen published the first DFMC Herald, organized conferences and board meetings, managed the budgets, acted as a resource person and clearing house on technical issues, and represented the DFMC externally.
At the Albuquerque annual conference in 1992 Joseph Estafen tendered his resignation as Executive Director and Father Robert Yeager was selected to fill this position. Recognizing the fact that the position was a part time position, Father Yeager moved the National Office to Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon, Ohio were he was currently the Principal. This address continued as the home of the National Office until July 1998 when Father Yeager left the high school and moved the National Office to a shared office facility in Maumee, Ohio.
On January 1, 2000 the DFMC national office became part of a newly opened office building in Waterville, Ohio. With the opening of the new office an Executive Assistant position was added. The first person to fill this role was Jennifer Shaver. During this era, more and more tasks formerly performed by members of the board of directors were assumed by members of the national staff, with the board taking on a true governance, strategic role. Donor relations, conference preparation and management, and operation of the website and digital assets were managed by the staff from this point onward.
In the 1990s the DFMC was involved in several major projects which were of assistance to the USCCB including the ad hoc committee on Assessment methods as well as a project to address the subject of internal controls.
The ad hoc committee on assessment methods was a committee of the USCCB, filled mainly by DFMC members. The committee first met at the USCCB headquarters in Washington, D.C. on August 21, 1993. The original members of the committee were Jose DeBasa (Los Angeles) Reverend Austin Ward (Saint Paul/Minneapolis), John Barrett (Richmond), Thomas Kurkowski (Green Bay) Mark Cazes (Alexandria, LA), Barbara Woodbury (Salt Lake City), William Daly, (New York), Bruce Egnew (San Francisco), Sister Fran Mlocek (USCCB), David Murphy (Erie), Joseph Estafen (DFMC Executive Director) and Bishop Donald Trautman (DFMC Episcopal Liaison). Ken Korotky and Reverend Robert J. Yeager would later join the committee.
Subsequent committee meetings were held in 1993, 1994 and finally in 1995. At the 1995 meeting, a proposal was adopted and taken by Bishop Trautman to the USCCB.
Prior to 1995, the USCCB diocesan assessment was calculated using a population-based methodology. Catholic populations as reported in the Official Catholic Directory (Kennedy Directory) were multiplied by an approved assessment per Catholic. The Bishops struggled with this methodology over many of the prior decades, however, numerous attempts to change it failed. Then in March 1993, the USCCB Committee on Budget and Finance, with the approval of the USCCB administrative Board, asked the DFMC to undertake a study to determine the feasibility of a more equitable assessment method.
The ad hoc committee that was formed consisted of twelve members, seven diocesan fiscal managers representing small, medium and large dioceses spread geographically across the country, three members from the USCCB Accounting Practices Committee, the USCCB Chief Financial Officer, the DFMC Executive Director and Bishop Trautman.
The ad hoc committee quickly concluded that the population-based assessment method was inadequate, as there was no uniform method of counting registered Catholics in the dioceses. The methods used were unsystematic and unreliable and did not incorporate the ability of an individual diocese to pay the assessment amount. After extensive deliberation of the ad hoc Committee, the USCCB Administrative Board and the full body of bishops, a new weighted formula to calculate the USCCB diocesan assessment was devised, which incorporated the ability of a diocese to pay.
The new assessment formula was weighted such that net offertory income (i.e. gross offertory less a deduction for support of schools and stewardship income) counted for 50%, registered parish households count for 30% and amounts collected for certain national collections (i.e. CCHD, ABOA and Peter’s Pence) count for 20%. Additionally, a cap was placed on the newly calculated assessment so that no diocese’s assessment would increase or decrease by more than 20% in a given year. Lastly, it was agreed that fresh data would be collected from the dioceses every three years in order to keep the assessment current, fair and equitable.
As the DFMC moved through the 1990s it became clear to the Board of Directors that fraud and the accompanying subject of internal controls were of great interest. Several of the annual conferences had presentations addressing various aspects of the subject of fraud. Other presentations focused on the subject of internal controls. At this same time John R. O’Brien headed a small working group that prepared an “Internal Controls Checklist.” After this was completed and approved by the DFMC Board, Bishop Trautman took it to the USCCB. Ultimately the National Office sent a copy of this document to the CFO of each diocese.
Vendors (sponsors and exhibitors) were first invited to be a part of the annual conference in 1992 at the Washington, D.C. fall meeting, after several years of allowing highly limited sponsorship of meals and small gatherings associated with the Conference. The Board of Directors deliberated the question of vendors’ role in the DFMC extensively throughout the 1990s. From the initial 15 table top exhibits in 1992, the vendors’ presence grew first to 25, then 35, then 50, and today no more than 70 exhibitors are allowed. In the late 1990s, actual booths replaced the table top exhibits in the exhibit hall. In 2004, a gold island area was initiated which included not only booth space but also special acknowledgement in the annual conference program and other recognition. Additionally, sponsors underwrite food and beverage functions throughout the annual meeting, and the speaker sessions.
Throughout the DFMC history, longevity of membership has been recognized by the conference, with member attendance milestones recognized at the annual meetings and in plaques sent to members’ offices. In 1999, the first 30-year award was bestowed on William Hinkes, one of the original Founders of the DFMC, at the meeting in which he announced his decision to retire. Bishop Donald W. Trautman served as DFMC Episcopal Moderator for twenty-five years from 1985 until 2010, and made significant contributions to the Conference. At DFMC 2022 in Washington, D.C., Jan Smith from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau attended her 40th and final DFMC Conference before retirement. Jan also became the inaugural recipient of the Saint Matthew Medal, the highest honor presented by the DFMC, at that same conference. In 2023 Tony Salgado received the second Saint Matthew Medal at DFMC 2023 in Denver.
The COVID-19 phenomenon and associated state reactions to it disrupted the operations of the DFMC in 2020. That year a virtual conference was held online as local restrictions made holding an in-person conference impossible. In 2021, the conference returned to live, in-person meeting in Nashville. Since 2022, the DFMC Conference event has surpassed pre-COVID levels of performance, setting all time records in registration and external sponsorship support in 2022 and 2023.CPE-granting webinars are offered throughout the year, and the DFMC website’s members-only listserve is active every day with members trading ideas and best practices back and forth with each other. Regional meetings are held in every part of the nation throughout the year between the DFMC conference events to sustain connections and community.
In 2021, at the Opening Night of the first in-person, post-COVID DFMC Conference event in Nashville, Executive Director John Matthew Knowles expressed a vision to focus DFMC energy moving forward within three domains:
Domain 1: Promote the Catholic spiritual growth of DFMC members and their circles of influence, advance and broaden the impact of the New Evangelization.
Domain 2: Rapidly grow and expand the DFMC Annual Meeting and Conference event as the flagship professional conference in the Catholic Church.
Domain 3: Broaden the range of opportunities for DFMC members to experience the benefits of DFMC membership between the annual conferences.
Turning towards the future, DFMC aspires to present the best Catholic professional conference in the world each year, provide greater value to members between annual conferences, and deepen the spiritual lives of its members so that they can evangelize effectively in their offices, dioceses, and broader communities.