Last year, the state’s gross bingo revenues were more than $33 million, according to the Massachusetts Lottery.
The Wednesday-night game at St. James had gross revenues of $320,000 last year, prize winnings of $227,000, and generated $68,000 for the parish, some of it in rent, according to the Lottery.
Julien said that he and the other members of the bingo committee decided to resign after being told that the collaborative would be handling the bingo finances.
The Salem Collaborative is one of the first formed by the archdiocese in response to the dwindling number of priests and declining church attendance and finances. Beginning in June, the four Salem parishes were reorganized under one pastor, a pastoral staff, a parish council and other committees.
“With the formation of the collaborative, things have changed,” Julien said. “They want things to be done in a different way.”
Julien said he and the other members of the bingo committee have extensive financial and accounting backgrounds and have been involved in numerous parish activities for many years.
For years, bingo provided financial aid to a parish school, which has since closed.
“We have extremely detailed accounting procedures we put into place for the bingo,” he said. As a result of the work of a large team of dedicated volunteers, he said the St. James bingo game has been “wildly successful.”
Julien said the bingo committee felt it couldn’t keep running bingo while others kept the records and controlled the finances.
“They want to take complete charge of the financial aspects of the whole operation, and in doing so, we feel we’re going to lose track of everything we’ve done to make this whole thing successful ... In some cases, it comes down to a matter of principle, too. We know what we’ve been doing successfully, and it’s like, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”
There has been no word on whether the collaborate plans to apply to the state to start a new bingo game at St. James.
There is also a Friday-night bingo game at St. John the Baptist Church, which is part of the collaborative.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.