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New Director of Finance Grateful to Serve the Church

by Karla Dorweiler

Even though Martin Vucinaj has only been working at Sacred Heart Major Seminary since August, it’s already home to him. The new Director of Finance for Sacred Heart quickly jumped into the role, not only by crunching numbers but also by getting to know his colleagues and availing himself of opportunities to practice his faith in the seminary chapel.

Vucinaj came to Sacred Heart from UHY Advisors, Inc., an accounting firm where he served as chief financial officer (CFO) or controller for various clients. Before that, he worked as CFO for Orchard Lake Schools, where he refinanced the organization’s debt to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating funds annually. During his career, he also spent time at Pfizer, Kmart Corporation, MCN Energy Services, and Coopers & Lybrand.

“I’ve never had a job that I didn’t love. But the thing I love about working here is the mission. We know what we are here for,” said Vucinaj. “The Catholic Church is so important to me. The priesthood is so important to me because that’s the only person that can give me Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”

As a sacristan at his parish for fourteen years, St. Fabian in Farmington Hills, Vucinaj wasn’t at Sacred Heart for long before signing up to be one of the sacristans for daily Mass in the chapel. He visits the Blessed Sacrament in the sacred space as often as he can each day.

In his work as Director of Finance at the seminary after working in the public sector, Vucinaj had to shift gears from being focused on sales and profit to relying on donations.

“It’s different because you’re so dependent on those donations and the good will of the people. Here, we don’t have guarantees that we’ll be able to do every project or make improvements,” Vucinaj said. “That makes the job a little more difficult, but I like the challenge and I really like coming to work every day.”

Vucinaj can trace his Catholic faith and strong work ethic back to his childhood. He came to the United States from Yugoslavia with his family when he was seven years old to flee Communism.

Rector Father Stephen Burr was pleased to welcome Vucinaj to the Sacred Heart staff last year.

“Martin is a dynamic, skilled man who loves working for the Church and who has so many gifts,” said Father Burr. “I’m especially pleased that he comes to the seminary at this time when we’re developing the new formation program. It’s great that we have this mission and that with it, we have a man who’s able to help ensure we can do that mission in putting this new program together for the sake of the seminarians.”

The sixth edition of the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2022. The directives, which serve as a model for best practices in the formation of priests, are being implemented at Sacred Heart.

“The staff has responded wonderfully to Martin as well. He’s become a channel of communication among those that are in the building,” said Father Burr. “He’s a people person. Not only is he detailed in his accounting skills, but he has the ability to share that knowledge with the Board of Trustees, the staff, and the faculty.”

Vucinaj leads staff meetings and strives to get to know people outside formal meetings. He keeps a staff directory on his desk and puts an “X” next to the names of those he has met. He hopes to have an “X” after every person’s name by the end of April. Vucinaj likes to keep his office door open and encourages others who work there to do the same. He also invites them to attend daily Mass.

“A benefit of working for the Church is that one should be able to access the sacraments on a regular basis,” said Father Burr. “Martin is very involved in his parish, and he enjoys being involved in Church life. He participates in daily midday Mass here and encourages the staff to have that same appreciation. He’s not only a numbers guy; he’s an evangelist and a catechist. He wants people to be able to love the Lord like he does, and he wants to be able to do it through his role at the seminary.”

Overseeing the overall financial health and growth of a seminary can feel weighty at times. Still, Vucinaj never stops feeling grateful for being part of the important work at Sacred Heart.

“The seminarians are getting a great education here, and whatever I can do to help with that, I will,” Vucinaj said.

by Karla Dorweiler

Karla Dorweiler

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.