Faith and finance add up for Diocesan Finance Council chairs


Joe Fernandes has been helping Bishop Barry C. Knestout balance the books for the diocese for 13 years. On June 6, Fernandes retired from the Diocesan Finance Council after serving the maximum three terms, during which time he also served as chair of the council.

Joe Fernandes

The Diocesan Finance Council (DFC) shares the responsibility of the diocese’s finances with the bishop. Council members advise the bishop in his stewardship of the faithful’s finances. Under the Code of Canon Law, the bishop consults with the DFC on financial matters, including budgets, investments, property transactions, and construction projects.

At the June 6 meeting, Fernandes shared parting words with the council, saying it has been his honor and privilege to serve. He thanked Bishop Knestout and said he can see the bishop values the opinion of the council.

Fernandes, who is a certified financial planner and owner of a financial strategy company in Williamsburg, said the diocesan Office of Finance is an outstanding team, which could “stand up to any publicly traded company.”

Bishop Knestout thanked Fernandes for his “cool, calm, and confident” oversight of the council. The bishop commented that during Fernandes’ time on the council, the diocese transitioned to modern investment strategies that would help preserve the Church’s resources in the future.

The bishop thanked Fernandes for his expertise and love of the Church, saying, “We will miss you.”

Fernandes, a parishioner of Holy Rosary, Richmond, said his time on the DFC has strengthened his faith.

“I have had the pleasure to witness the many avenues through which the Richmond diocese expresses the Catholic faith,” said Fernandes. “From parish worship to Catholic schools to campus ministries to nursing homes – the Church is still alive, necessary, and relevant.”

Susan Hickey

During the June 6 meeting, Susan Hickey was appointed the next DFC chair; she called the appointment “humbling and exciting.” Hickey retired last August from her 20-year post as chief executive officer of Virginia Ear, Nose & Throat, a medical/surgical practice in Richmond.

Hickey is a parishioner of St. Mary’s, Richmond, and said that her time on the DFC has strengthened her commitment to her faith. She noted that Bishop Knestout attends every DFC meeting and is “always actively engaged, listening to the input of members and sharing his insights.”

She added, “Hearing the bishop’s perspectives and beliefs regarding the variety of topics addressed by the DFC has helped me to look at things from a different, more religious perspective.”

Hickey also praised the diocese’s financial team, led by Mike McGee, chief financial officer; Sarah Rabin, director of finance; and Aimee Chappell, assistant director of finance, calling them “incredibly talented and dedicated.”

She said they are “critical to the success of the diocese” and “their dedication to the Church and their professions has positively impacted my faith.”

Hickey has served on the council for 11 years and will be chair until 2026. She also just completed a term as chair of the Catholic Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.


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