All of us have heard this question and may even have voiced it ourselves. There are at least three reasons why pastors ask the people at Mass for their participation and their stewardship.
Reason #1 – Funds are required to support activities
The first reason is that the Church is like any other active organization, and needs funds to carry out the Mission of the Church. Unlike some other organizations, it is a non-profit and relies on volunteers and donations/gifts.
Reason #2 – Asking people also informs them of activities
The second is that the process of asking gives the pastor an opportunity to inform the people about the parish’s ministries and services, the needs and services of the Diocese, and the needs of the universal Church.
Reason #3 – Provides people an opportunity to participate
The third reason is that it provides the people opportunities to participate and to exercise their own stewardship.
What does the Church do with all that money?
Today, a large percentage of people (particularly in the U.S.A.) receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital. The Church teaches 3 million students a day in its
– 250+ Catholic Colleges and Universities
– 1200+ Catholic high schools
– 5000+ Catholic grade schools.
Every day, the Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than probably any other organization in the world.
The Church itself is very large; over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. It requires funds for its sustenance and to continue its broad array of ministry and services, here in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, throughout the United States, and around the world.
What many of us don’t pause to consider or realize is that the money to fund all these works of the Church must come from the faithful in the parishes, and the pastor must be the one who makes the request. The most opportune time and place to make those requests are at Mass on Sunday.
Our service goes beyond our parish to serve the Church
Our pastors, men who were drawn to their calling, their vocation, by their desire to serve God and God’s people, are the administrators of parishes, missions, schools and other activities.
We ask our faithful to fund the parish and the universal Church on an “as-required” basis, and it is the pastor who is most often called upon to make the request.
Pastors must ask for money to meet the needs of:
– The parish
– The school if the parish has one (typically, the “first” collection)
– The community projects such as homeless services, food kitchens, clothing drives, etc., and to meet the needs of the diocese (e.g., the Annual Ministry Appeal).
Parishes hold regular second collections for the special needs of the parish such as a building fund to maintain the physical property, for the St. Vincent de Paul Society that provides parish outreach to the less fortunate, or to support the activities of a school.
In addition to the Annual Ministry Appeal, the bishops of our country, as a group, ask every diocese and parish to support a list of 12 special collections each year.
When large tragedies strike anywhere in the world (e.g., an earthquake in Chile, a typhoon in the Philippines, a famine in Africa, or a fire in Lake County) we take up special collections to help meet the needs in the stricken area. Infrequently, we allow some other deserving group to ask our parishioners for help, and often, the pastor makes the request for that outside group.
Donor fatigue is a reality. So is priest fatigue!
Those of us who are parishioners can feel “donor fatigue.” We are tired of giving, and we are tired of being asked to give. We, unfortunately, focus our discontent on the pastor who makes these requests.
We think he asks too often and for too much. Often, we do not think about it from the pastor’s perspective – a man who suffers from “asking fatigue.” They are more tired of asking than we are being asked.
Our shared responsibility as Catholics in a Universal Church
In the final analysis, this process is a shared responsibility. The pastor must ask because, in addition to his other responsibilities, he is the administrator of the temporal activities of the parish. We should respond as our capability allows because our baptism calls us to be disciples of Christ, and one responsibility of a disciple is to act as good stewards of all the gifts God has entrusted to us.
The next time our pastor asks us for a donation, let’s consider what has been outlined above and give thanks to God that we have a leader who is willing to encourage us in the stewardship of our parish community. Maybe such consideration will also encourage us to be even more generous as we respond to the requests!
The article was written by Deacon John Norris from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California. He is the Diocesan Director of Development. You can contact Deacon John via email at firstname.lastname@example.org