Graciela Etchart

From February 12 to 16, Latin American bursars convened for a training workshop in São Paulo, Brazil. The attendees comprised treasurers from Paraguay, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Peru, under the leadership of Fr. Charles RENSBURG, OMI, the General Treasurer of the Congregation.

The mission of the treasurer

On the first day, the group visited the sanctuary of the Aparecida, where, after celebrating the Eucharist, they started the work by reflecting on “the mission of the treasurer.” With their work oriented to the mission of the Church, treasurers must be in permanent formation, they must learn to be, learn to learn, and learn to do.

Over the next few days, Fr. Charles developed the theme of “Implementation of capitular calls through leadership and financial reimagination.” The topic was addressed starting with the priority areas of the general chapter, one of them being financial sustainability, which mandate is:
a) implementing a leadership style that integrates “relevance within the Mission” and finances,
b) providing ongoing training and development to Oblate leadership,
c) encouraging financial solidarity among OMI units,
d) providing an oversight function on issues of governance within units,
e) ensuring that Omi units meet their essential financial obligations and use their investments prudently.

The attendees comprised treasurers from Paraguay, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Peru.

Promoting a culture of financial sustainability

Other topics discussed were the need to promote a culture of financial sustainability within units and provide data-driven models on the financial implications of projected demographic changes. The need to work with budgets was also emphasized, as well as not disposing more than 4% of own funds annually, submitting consolidated reports accompanied by the report of an external auditor, integrating professionals into the finance teams, working on carrying out large projects, work and invest in vocational animation, consolidate training costs, and participate in all unit council meetings. The role of the treasurer is to create solutions.

Follow-up meeting in Lima

The sessions also included: a) a workshop by TAFER (Tavares Ferreira), the accounting advisors of the province of Brazil, who informed on administrative, economic, accounting, and legal topics pertaining to religious persons and b) a presentation via zoom by the director of the Office of Oblate Missions sustainability, Graciela Etchart, who developed the topic of Feasibility Studies, the steps to be developed before launching projects or activities leading to financial sustainability.

With so much to do and reevaluate from now on, the group saw the need for a follow-up meeting that will take place in Lima, Peru, in early 2025.  Bursars and their assistants and future bursars of the different units must participate in this meeting.