CathoNet: Cloud System for Roman Catholic Parish Management

by Richard on September 24, 2010

Right Networks LLC, provider of the most popular business accounting applications, has announced the creation of a new company to deliver a suite of powerful but easy-to-use information management systems tailored for Roman Catholic dioceses and parishes.

CathoNet , as the new company is named, offers data management solutions on a reliable and secure “cloud-based” platform to improve the tracking, recording, and coordination of information across an entire faith-based community. Right Networks has made CathoNet the exclusive reseller of Right Networks proven management solutions in order to better represent and serve the Roman Catholic community.

CathoNet will be formally launched at the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference in New Orleans, LA, September 26-29, 2010.

Proven Systems in Major Dioceses

With proven management solutions already in use in Catholic Archdioceses and dioceses across the United States, CathoNet offers the tools to enact positive change and strengthen public trust in the Catholic Church’s ability to manage its finances according to the highest standards of accountability.

The creation of CathoNet represents the future of parish management, according to Right Networks’ Co-Founders Phil Romine and John Farrer.

“We are thankful that our solutions have been embraced by Bishops, Pastors, and Lay Leaders across the United States,” adds Phil Romine. “By providing reliable, secure access to information and the ability to manage that information in a user-friendly way, we believe we have helped parishes and dioceses better serve their constituents, and we look forward to growing in this regard.”

Millions of Catholics Served

Among Right Networks’ existing clients are some of the largest Archdioceses in the country: the Archdiocese of Chicago, IL, with more than 2.3 million Catholics in 230 parishes; the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, with more than 1.8 million Catholics in 291 parishes; and the Diocese of Dallas, TX (1.1 million Catholics, 67 parishes). CathoNet has also been successfully integrated in smaller but also dynamic and diverse dioceses, from San Jose, CA (600,000 Catholics, 52 parishes) and Fresno, CA (581,000 Catholics, 86 parishes) to Lexington, KY (46,000 Catholics, 64 parishes) and Burlington, VT (118,000 Catholics, 80 parishes) – with many more on the way, including the Archdiocese of Newark , NJ (1.3 million Catholics, 230 parishes) and the Diocese ofHonolulu, HI (240,000 Catholics, 66 parishes).

The Diocese of Bridgeport, CT (400,000 Catholics, 87 parishes) piloted the accounting platform in 2007. Its success has inspired other dioceses and archdioceses across the country.

“Right Networks provided us with a platform, and has made our work – and lives – so much easier,” says Taffie Iwanicki, Operations Manager for the Archdiocese of Chicago. “It offers us true standardization in our software and accounting practices and procedures, integrity of financial data, and transparency.” (More of Taffie’s story below)

“The feedback from our parishes, schools, and cemeteries has been uniformly positive,” adds Denise McKinnon-Biernat, Director of Parish Financial Services for the Archdiocese of Boston. “That’s important, as they are as much the key stakeholders in our accounting system as is the Archdiocese.”(More of Denise’s story below)

“No one is able to offer the internal controls, accountability, and transparency solutions offered through CathoNet,” says John Farrer. “CathoNet cost-effectively links parishes, people, and information with anytime, anywhere access.”

Deacon William A. Koniers, President

To serve as President of CathoNet, Right Networks has tapped one of the most innovative change agents in the U.S. Catholic Church today: Deacon William A. Koniers.

As Director of Parish Finance Services for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Deacon Koniers has overseen a top-to-bottom parish financial administration re-engineering in a diocese that was in immediate need of becoming more transparent and accountable to its parishioners. With full support from his bishop, Bishop William Lori, Deacon Koniers achieved success by organizing the significant collaboration of Pastors, Parish Finance Councils, lay staff and volunteers. Those events became the impetus for a strategic partnership with Right Networks in a major process re-design effort that stressed good internal controls, processes, best practices, and the latest cloud technology across 87 parishes.

“We could not ask for a better leader of CathoNet than Deacon Koniers,” says Phil Romine. “Thanks to his corporate background and visionary leadership, the Diocese of Bridgeport has a parish management model in place that has inspired other dioceses and archdioceses. He is an innovator in the Catholic Church on how to strengthen financial and administrative processes from the bottom-up in dioceses large and small.”

A native of Philadelphia, PA, and graduate of Philadelphia University, Deacon Koniers, 59, has more than 36 years of experience in global corporate management and operations. He spent 11 years in various management positions with General Electric, and another 11 years with Pirelli North America. His responsibilities included operations, strategic planning, financial services, mergers and acquisitions, business process re-engineering, and commercial financing.

Prior to joining the Diocese of Bridgeport in 2006, Deacon Koniers was a Division President with Air Products Healthcare, a $300 million regional provider of ancillary home healthcare products and services; a subsidiary of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. He was later promoted to the position of Corporate Vice President, Customer Service where he became responsible for redesigning a new “order-to-cash” revenue cycle and implementing change management throughout a company of more than 2,000 employees.

“An Extension of My Vocation”

Deacon Koniers was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate by Bishop Lori in 2004, and presently serves at Saint Pius X Roman Catholic Parish in Fairfield, CT.

“I regard my future work with CathoNet as an extension of my vocation,” Deacon Koniers notes. “CathoNet is the perfect marriage of 21st century process-driven technology providing much-needed products and services to Pastors, their lay leadership, and parish staffs to help them further their parish mission and be more responsive to their community of faithful. It provides better stewardship so the Church can do even more with its resources to help her pastoral and sacramental mission, those in need, and society at large.”

“Parish finances are not an end in itself but, rather, a means of supporting a parish’s pastoral and sacramental ministries,” Deacon Koniers adds. “CathoNet enables Catholic leaders to run the business of the Church in a business-like manner, while never reducing the Church’s mission to a business. In today’s world, people expect the Church to be held to the highest standards of professionalism and financial accountability, and CathoNet provides the means to do so.”

Seamless Integration into Existing Systems

“The beauty of CathoNet is that it can be seamlessly integrated into existing systems,” Deacon Koniers continues. “It combines the best of both worlds: web-based management solutions for census and contributions combined with popular desktop accounting applications for anywhere/anytime access.”

Through its ManageMyParish and ManageMyDiocese components, CathoNet’s products and services will offer a comprehensive package of benefits, including:

  • Management: Parish Census, Sacramental Registries, Contributions, Religious Education Records and Tracking, and Custom and Consolidated Financial Reporting with Distributed Management Capabilities.
  • Scheduling: Personnel and Resource Planning, Notifications, etc.
  • Communications: News, Announcements via Mail, Email, TXT, Web, etc.
  • Integration: Standard Financial Applications (QuickBooks, Peachtree, etc); Third-Party Online Systems (CASS, Payment Gateways, Safe Environment Verification, etc); Third-Party Communication Solutions (envelopes, newsletters, etc).
  • Superior End-User Experience and Trust: Parish management applications work intuitively; Standard applications require little or no training; Standard accounting applications are well-known and trusted.
  • Rapid Deployment, Maintenance, and Standardization: Centralized platform enables entire dioceses to “on-board” quickly, use a unified platform, and stay up-to-date easily; Diocese-wide solution promotes standards and best practices: Internal Controls, Accountability, and Transparency.
  • Purchasing Experience: Subscription-based solution requires no up-front capital spending from dioceses or parishes; New features and upgrades can be implemented without additional outlays.
  • Agility and Integration: Advanced platform technologies and processes enable rapid implementation of new features and integration of third-party solutions with no “technical debt” to impede progress.

Transforming the Way the Catholic Church Works

The Archdiocese of Chicago began using Right Networks and its “New Framework for Parish Finances” in the fall of 2008. Currently 340 Catholic schools and parishes – 85 percent of the archdiocese – are up and running and reaping the benefits, which will now grow even stronger with CathoNet.

“It truly is a ‘New Framework’,” reports Taffie Iwanicki, Operations Manager. “We thought we were standardized and working well and collaboratively with our parishes, schools, and other entities. Now, we are experiencing an accounting platform that has taken us to far greater heights. It offers us true standardization in our software and accounting practices and procedures, integrity of financial data, and transparency.”

Implementation of the product and regular updates are easy, Taffie continues. “We moved from QuickBooks 2009 to QuickBooks 2010 and it was seamless,” she says. “We’re very pleased with the technical support. Experienced people are always there to answer questions and assist with real-time help. Their customer service is first-rate.”

The system also proved to be a huge timesaver. “Pastors and staff really appreciate the technology side of it,” Taffie notes. “We’re advertising ‘Click and Submit’ – they can generate and send in their reports now with ease. They are also able to issue reports easily and share financial information with their finance councils and parishioners, allowing for greater transparency.”

The platform has an added bonus: an easy and efficient way of conducting continuing education. To date, the Archdiocese of Chicago has hosted more than 70 webinars and on-site classes with more than 1,900 participants.

“Our parishes and schools have been very enthused with the on boarding of this initiative,” Taffie concludes. “It sold itself.”

A New Financial Solution

The Archdiocese of Boston began working with Right Networks in spring 2009. At present, all but two of its 291 parishes, as well as 78 Catholic schools and 42 Catholic cemeteries, are enjoying the benefits of the standardized accounting solution now delivered through CathoNet.

“We were looking for a new financial solution, ways to communicate better and share information,” recalls Denise McKinnon-Biernat, Director of Parish Financial Services. “Right Networks had the answer. They have given us a solid foundation to provide a much higher level of professional services in a more timely fashion. Now, within a matter of minutes, we can diagnose and solve problems at any location in the Archdiocese, without having to leave our desks. We can extract financial reports that otherwise would have been mailed or emailed in. We’re talking about real-time results.”

“Easy to use” and “convenient” are cited often by enthusiastic Pastors and lay managers throughout the Archdiocese.

“They love the ability to access QuickBooks from anywhere and at anytime,” Denise notes. “If it is snowing and they can’t travel to work, they can access our web-hosted accounting platform from their home computers. They also like the rapid response of Right Networks Call Center in offering assistance and answering questions.”

At the end of the day, Right Networks has helped the Church to further its mission – a priority that will grow stronger with CathoNet.

“Transparency has been a priority of our Archdiocese for many years,” Denise concludes. “Right Networks has complemented this effort. They are helping us to advance our ability to share information and communicate results within our expansive Archdiocesan community and the wider world. We’re very appreciative.”

Proven Success, Proven Demand, Proven Team

“As a Permanent Deacon, I do a fair amount of preaching about the Truth,” Deacon Koniers concludes. “I’m honored now to also spread the good news about CathoNet. The truth is, we have proven success, proven demand, and a proven team in place. I’m ready to share CathoNet’s advantages, potential, and superb track record with every diocese in the U.S.”

To learn more about CathoNet, please visit www.cathonet.com.

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