1. How long have you worked for the Archdiocese of Toronto and what path led you to your current role as Manager of Parish Operational Reviews in the Accounting and Finance Department?
I have worked for the archdiocese for just over seven years. My work experience as a senior auditor with the Province of Ontario combined with the volunteer work I had done in my parish prepared me for the job.
2. What does a “typical” day look like in your job?
I am involved in the Parish Operational Review Program, risk management and parish support. I receive reports from reviewers who visit the parishes. Bill Dunlop, the comptroller, and I read the reports and draft a letter to the pastor advising of the findings and inviting comments.
I also receive telephone calls and emails concerning insurance issues such as “someone fell in the parking lot. Should we file a report?” or “could you read through this snow removal contract and see if it is OK?” Like all the staff in the Accounting and Finance department, I receive calls and emails about general accounting issues, and pretty well everything and anything.
3. What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a parish?
A few years ago, an author called requesting the rights to use an image in her book of a painting by William Kuralek, which was in Corpus Christi Church. We consulted with our solicitor (some people think I have all the answers, but I know better) and learned that although we owned the painting, the owner of the copyright was Mr. Kuralek’s Estate. The author was able to obtain permission from the estate. The painting, installed on a side altar, was Mr. Kuralek’s 50th anniversary gift to the church and was completed just months before his death.
4. What is one thing most people might not know about the world of accounting and finance in a Catholic diocese?
It comes as a surprise to many that from an accounting and finance perspective, the archdiocese operates as a business. The parishes are expected to operate as a business as well. This means we follow generally accepted accounting principles, the Income Tax Act and other federals laws, the Employment Standards Act and other provincial laws, and the bylaws of the municipality in which we are located. Being a church does not give us an out.
5. What is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy of your role in the archdiocese?
The greatest challenge and the greatest joy for me is helping a parish find the best solution to a particular problem. Sometimes the parish just needs confirmation they are headed in the right direction and sometimes we have to brainstorm together to come up with possible solutions. With 225 parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto, no two parishes are exactly the same.
6. If you could spend a day walking in another person’s shoes, who would you choose?
It would be fascinating to be His Holiness Pope Francis for a day. Just think of all the interesting people he meets and the unconditional love sent his way. Of course, the downside is the stress and the enormous responsibility.
7. What is your favourite thing to do to relax after the big push to get through tax season?
I love going to art galleries with my friend. My mother was an artist, and it is amazing how much I learned from her about colour, composition, etc. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her talent.
8. Tell us about the time you met Mother Teresa.
I came home from school for lunch one day, I think that I was in grade six, and my mother informed me that I would not be returning to school that day (yay!). Instead we would be going to the airport to meet Mother Teresa. My mother had arranged a beautiful bouquet of flowers that I was to present to Mother Teresa and greet her with a line in Hindi. I remember waiting for a long time at the top of an escalator in the airport for Mother Teresa to clear customs and immigration. Suddenly, there she was, along with another sister from her order. She had a blue sweater over her arm and carried a tiny suitcase. She was not expecting the small crowd that greeted her. When she finally saw a familiar face, (a doctor who worked with her in Calcutta) in our group, she called out: “what are you doing here?” I gave Mother Teresa the flowers, forgot the line I was to say in Hindi and ended up carrying her sweater. We started walking to where the Catholic Register had arranged to interview her. Along the way I was introduced to a very tall man who kindly bent down to shake my hand – Jean Vanier. While Mother Teresa and Jean Vanier were being interviewed, I sat with my mom, the doctor and Pauline Vanier (Jean Vanier’s mom) and chatted. Madame Vanier gave me her autograph. My mom remembered to get Mother Teresa’s autograph for me that evening after a Youth Corps rally.
|Marie recalls meeting Mother Teresa and Jean Vanier as a child.|
9. Fill in the blank: A clean desk ______.
…means that all my work is done!