That’s how Mark Wiewel, Western Catholic Union National President/CEO, opened the 57th Quadrennial convention held in Quincy, Illinois.
86 delegates elected by WCU’s branches attended the convention. Before electing the new members of Board of Trustees, who will guide the organization the next four years, the delegates were updated on the past and future of the 135-year-old fraternal benefit society.
Certainly, declining interest rates world-wide have had an impact. “The 10-year US Treasury Bond we use as a benchmark was 3.84% in 2009 and at the end of the second quarter this year it was down to 1.57%, or a decrease of 2.27%,” Wiewel told the crowd.
“The total investment rate of return in 2008 was 6.56% and as of June 30th of this year it was 5.15%, or a decrease of 1.41%. We are estimating that it will continue to decline to as low as 4.5% over the next year because of the historically low interest rates. Thanks to the good work of National Secretary-Treasurer/CFO Kent Stegeman and his staff, our rate of return remains higher than industry averages.”
WCU management pointed out that a major change in guidance occurred earlier this year when a new actuarial firm was selected for the organization. “Through the diligent work of WCU management and staff, as well as Allen Bailey and Associates, our new actuaries, and our legal counsel Steve Kinion, we have just completed the first comprehensive five-year business plan in the history of WCU,” Roger Player, Chairman of the Board noted.
“Progress against the key points of the plan will be used to guide the actions of the Board and management in the years to come.”
Bailey and Associates has helped design new insurance and annuity products that support the goals of the new business plan. “That simple statement does not begin to describe the challenges facing your sales team in the next year and beyond,” Player said. “The Board believes that the sales team is up to these challenges.”
Since 2008, WCU branches have organized 792 Matching Fund activities to support needy organizations in their communities. Those activities have raised $2,152,000! That’s money that’s gone back into the branch communities to help parishes, Catholic schools, support student pro-life events, help feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless, and many other charities.
On top of that, just this past year, WCU branch members provided more than 49,000 volunteer hours for charitable work. That’s financial support and volunteer hours that either come from WCU members, or don’t come at all.
WCU delegates return to their communities, knowing more about up-to-date developments with the organization, and confident the organization will remain strong. “WCU can continue the mission of serving its members and their communities with safe products and meaningful fraternal activities,” Player added.
“The work continues.”