Dear Fellow Parishioners,
A couple of weeks ago, a parishioner e-mailed me asking what the main collection pays for, and why we have so many second collections. I thought some of you might be interested in my answer.
The first collection goes to the day-to-day expenses of the parish. The largest item by far is lay salaries and benefits, followed by clergy stipends and benefits. The wage laws for hourly and exempt employees are very costly to observe. This is followed by liability insurance ($66k per year) and the diocesan assessment (also $66k per year), which is our calculated share of the cost of supporting the bishop and his ministerial staff. (We have, I believe, the lowest assessment rate of any diocese in California.) That’s $11,000 per month for just insurance and the assessment,before any utilities, supplies, upkeep, etc.
The monthly Repair and Maintenance Collection (4th Sunday of the Month) is for repair and maintenance of our large and aging facility. It is separated out for a number of reasons. Some people like to give to specific, designated projects, which I usually mention before the collection is taken up. That is also used to build up a fund for emergency repairs which, on buildings as large and old as ours, can be very expensive.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society collection is generally every 5th Sunday of the month. The SVdP Society is separately incorporated, maintains its own books, and gives direct aid to the needy in our parish. It is an opportunity to participate in serving the needy in our parish. Our SVdP volunteers develop relationships with many of the peoplethey help in our name, so it is not just an impersonal transfer of resources.
Almost all other collections are identified as to the purposes they serve. For example, Home Missions (for missionary US dioceses, like Santa Rosa), the Propagation of the Faith (for faith formation, especially in underdeveloped countries), the Church in Latin America, Black and Indian Missions (outreach to Black and Native American Catholics) and so forth. There are several more, but I think you get the idea.
Every once in a while, there is a one-time special collection for a catastrophic emergency, such as the earthquake in Haiti, the 2005 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, etc. More often than not, parishioners will approach me after a disaster well before I get any notice from the diocese or the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was founded to organize WWI chaplaincy services).
There are a very few “assessed” collections, that is, with “goals” that must be met. The annual collection for Seminaries, which all parishes have an interest in, is one of them.
These various second collections throughout the year are not at all obligatory for anyone, and not everybody is interested in everything. They are merely opportunities to participate in the worldwide outreach of the Church.
Fr. Bill Donahue