Q&A: Archdiocese of Denver’s new Chief Financial Officer ‘honored’ to serve

After a long search, the Archdiocese of Denver recently welcomed Brenda Cannella as its new Chief Financial Officer at the beginning of the year. Cannella brings extensive experience and knowledge to the archdiocese. She has spent the last decade in various finance roles at FOCUS, most recently as the VP of finance.

We sat down with Cannella, who was kind enough to introduce herself and share more insight on what she hopes to accomplish in her new role.

Denver Catholic: What sort of background do you come from?

Cannella: I grew up Catholic and am originally from a small town near Houston, Texas. I have an accounting degree from the University of Houston. I began my accounting career in the Houston office of the former Big 6 public accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, and am a CPA formerly licensed in Texas. My husband, Troy, and I moved to Colorado just over 20 years ago and have been very blessed by our experience of being Catholic here in the Archdiocese of Denver. We have been married 30 years, have 5 beautiful children and live in Erie. We have been parishioners at St. Louis in Louisville and St. Thomas Aquinas in Boulder during our time in Colorado. Just prior to joining the archdiocese, I had the great fortune of spending ten years being formed as a disciple while serving in Finance at FOCUS, Fellowship of Catholic University Students. My last five years at FOCUS were as Vice President of Finance.

DC: What does it mean for you to be the new CFO of the Archdioceses of Denver?

Cannella: I am deeply honored to be the CFO for the archdiocese. There is an amazing leadership team in place here at the archdiocese and I am grateful for the opportunity to be on mission with this team at this time in the Church.

DC: What are your goals as the new CFO?

Cannella: My primary goal is to continue the great work of those who preceded me in this role and to look for opportunities to work collaboratively among all diocesan entities to become even better stewards of the assets of our archdiocese. Finance, administration and planning in the Archdiocese of Denver is on a firm foundation built by our prior CFOs. From this foundation, I plan to continue to orient the resources and administration of the archdiocese toward achieving the mission of the Church which is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and make disciples of all nations.

DC: What are the greatest joys and challenges that you face in your new position?

Cannella: One of the greatest joys of this new role is the opportunity to serve the priests, religious and lay faithful of my own community, the Archdiocese of Denver. The allocation and stewardship of financial resources is always a challenge but one that can be met if we seek God’s will in all things.

DC: What are you most grateful for in this opportunity in your life and career?

Cannella: I’m very grateful for the gift of faith and for the many opportunities that God has given me to grow closer to Him in my life and career. He was very patient with me during times in my life when I thought my life and career were about me! He waited for me to realize that He gave me the gifts and talents He did so that I can use them for His greater glory and for the salvation of souls. My life is committed to the fulfillment of the great commission and to living up to the invitation of our Lord to participate in His plan for salvation to the best of my ability with the help of grace.

COMING UP: Chancery support empowers parishes to focus on ministry and evangelization

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Chancery support empowers parishes to focus on ministry and evangelization

Annual appeal funds crucial behind-the-scenes services to parishes

Though she is made up of one body in Christ, the operation of the Church within the Archdiocese of Denver has a lot of moving parts.

It’s for this reason that the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA) is essential to the continued work of the Church here in northern Colorado. The ACA funds nearly 40 ministries and offices, and a substantial chunk of those are located at the chancery, which strives to provide vital support to parishes. Think of it this way: If parishes are the frontlines of where ministry and evangelization happen, then the chancery is where backup is deployed from. When a parish ministry needs extra help, they can turn to the chancery.

A lot of the services the chancery provides are conducted behind the scenes. This newspaper you hold in your hands, for example, is one of them. However, these services are many and varied; they include, but are not limited to: Communications, finance, human resources, Catholic schools, evangelization, the tribunal, construction and planning, real estate, liturgy and more.

The reality is that there is simply too much work to be done at the parish level, and every parish is unique and has differing levels of access to resources. The chancery and all its offices are available to fill those needs when they arise.

“We’ve been supported in many different ways, especially these past couple of months, most notably by the Office of Finance and Communications,” said Karen Surbrugg, business manager at Guardian Angels Parish in Mead. “We’ve had access to webinars, weekly updates, recommendations, access to technical support, just to name a few. Aside from the material support from the chancery, more importantly we feel emotionally and spiritually supported.”

Surbrugg said that this support has been especially appreciated amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Daily we’re faced with the reminder that we’re working in a parish without its people physically present,” she said. “Having the support of the staff from the chancery helps us meet those challenges in a hopeful way.”

For a small parish like Guardian Angels, oftentimes staff and resources are limited and they can’t operate at the same capacity as larger parishes. From a communications standpoint, Surbrugg is grateful for the support she receives from the Communications, Marketing and Parish Services office at the chancery.

“I think the thing that I most appreciate is the ‘ready to go’ correspondence that we can use to communicate with our parishioners,” Surbrugg said. “We’re a small parish and we don’t have the resources to produce professional, timely communication for our parishioners. At a time when communication is vital to keep our parish connected and informed, having access to flyers, narratives, and links, helps tremendously.

“Working in a small parish and wearing many hats, we’re typically Jacks of all trades, masters of none. There’s no way we’d be able to produce the quality of material that we’ve received from the Archdiocese. Having access to Flocknote, our website, Facebook, and email, we’re able to take this material directly from our weekly communication [we receive] and pass it along to our parishioners.”

Kathryn Nygaard, Director of Communications for Light of the World Parish in Littleton, has put in multiple requests for assistance from the chancery over the past six months, specifically with their website and other communications.

“I originally reached out to request support because I wanted a clean and beautiful design [for our website], along with some very specific functions for a couple new webpages,” Nygaard said. “I was unsure how to implement this myself and wanted to discuss it with someone with more expertise. The Communications Office was able to help implement all of my requests in a very timely manner.”

As parishes and the greater Church navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing societal norms which prohibit large gatherings for the time being, it is vital for communications efforts to be timely and efficient. More than just aiding with this and other matters, however, the chancery serves as a common tethering point for all parishes and a reminder to them that they are not alone.

“In a time of isolation, the communication from the chancery allows us to come together as family united in Christ,” Surbrugg said. “It shows me that we’re not in this alone and that our parish, albeit small, matters. I feel connected to the Archdiocese and other parishes knowing that we’re all facing the same challenges, regardless of our size and location.”

Having a common point of contact in the chancery also allows an opportunity for collaborative efforts between parishes, which are crucial in a time such as this when parishes are finding creative ways to show their commitment in sharing the Gospel.

“I love that the Archdiocese shares ideas that come in from parishes around the Archdiocese. This collaboration reminds me that we are one family working together to help each other, lift each other up, and be there in good times and bad,” Surbrugg said.

“The efforts and sacrifices made by the staff at the chancery are appreciated beyond words. We are truly grateful.”

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