Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time to Get Back to Work

Dear Beloved in Christ,
I am very happy to report that on last Thursday, October 21, 2013, the legal issues regarding myself, Mr. Barker and the Church were resolved. The resolution achieved was mutually agreed upon between myself and the Oneida County District Attorney's Office. I am pleased with the outcome as it is one which is in the best interests of the Church, its members, donors and supporters and Mr. Barker. 
In return for my pleading guilty to a single charge of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, all other charges against myself were dropped and ALL charges against Mr. Phillip Barker, Chief Operating Officer of the Archdiocese have been dropped. Having all the charges dropped against Mr. Barker was a significant aspect of the disposition of the proceedings. It was something I, personally, truly wanted. I am grateful to Almighty God that we were able to achieve that goal. With the charges being dropped against Phil, two young children will not lose their father and a wife will not lose her husband. Again, I thank God for this blessing.
As the Diocesan Bishop, I made decisions which I believe are in the best interests of the Church; of you, the faithful; and of the Church's donors and supporters. I am very happy with the decision I made to resolve this matter and the manner in which it has been resolved. I want to thank my attorney, Mr. Cory Zenammo, Esq., for his advice, counsel and guidance. I also want to thank the District Attorney's office, particularly Mr. Bernard Hyman, for their compassion and the way he and his office handled this matter. Finally, I want to thank my family, friends and you, the faithful of our holy Archdiocese, for all your prayers, encouragement and support during the past three months. You have made a very difficult time much easier. May God bless you all.
So that you are all fully aware and informed, the details of the resolution of the case are as follows. As part of the agreement, I have plead guilty to one count of 3rd degree Grand Larceny. This is a felony charge. In return, all the other charges against me and all charges against Mr. Barker have been dropped. If the Church is able to pay the full amount of $212,000 before my sentencing date of march 6, 2014, the felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor charge. If only $100,000 is paid at the time of sentencing, I will face six months in Oneida County jail and a period of probation. If anything less than $100,000 is paid by the time of sentencing, I will face an incremental range of prison time. This is the entire agreement made between myself and the DA's office on 11/21/13. You have all the information and terms here.
With the case being basically resolved, it's time to get back to work. Our first priority, which has been priority one all along, is to raise the money to pay all the restoration bills. Obviously, we would like to complete this process well before March 6, 2014, so that we can ensure that there will be no further disruptions to the life of the Church. Secondly, we must still raise funds to complete the restoration of the Church and complete all the projects which are part of the Cathedral Project. This includes the construction of the various parks and gardens surrounding the Cathedral, including  the Cathedral Lady Garden and the September 11th Memorial Park and Museum.
In addition to the above, we will be stepping up our community outreach and ministries as of January 1, 2014. We will be "hitting the streets" hard, like we have always done in the past, rolling up our sleeves and bringing the Church to the people, not waiting for them to come to us. It is important for everyone to remember all the good we have done over the years for the people of our city, and we will continue to do what we have done and more for them, because its our duty as disciples of Christ to care for ALL of God's people.
Many have asked what to do about donations. To you, I say give what your heart and personal financial circumstances allow you to give. If you want to give for purpose, do so. Our policy has always been to use designated gifts only for the purposes for which they are given. I want to reiterate that we will never use your gift for any other purpose except that for which it is given. We do need money to pay for the restoration work which has been done thus far so please help us pay off those bills first.  
No further restoration work will be done on the Cathedral until the work which has been done thus far is paid for. Once the outstanding restoration bills have been paid, we will continue to bank money until we have enough to do work. Restoration work will only be done when money is available to do it. If you want to make a donation for some future work or project, you are free to do so but please understand that your gift will remain in a restricted account until such time as all the outstanding restoration bills are paid off. From that point on, the priority in the restoration program will be the replacement of the Cathedral's roof and the installation of a heating system. No other restoration work will be done until the roof and heat situations are addressed and resolved.
Donations for community service projects and ministries as well as other purposes not related to the restoration are always welcome and needed. We will not put our life as Church on hold because of what has happened. We must continue to move forward, grow and remain in service to Christ and the people of God, faithfully proclaiming and living the Gospel with great joy and certitude. Our confidence and hope is in Christ, Who makes all things good.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Phil. We are both easily reached by phone and/or email.
With love in Christ, I remain,
Your unworthy servant,
+Archbishop Stephen