Public Masses may be suspended to curb COVID-19’s spread, but the work of parishes, as well as their payrolls, facilities and outreach ministries, continue.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz is asking Catholics around the archdiocese — who are able — to continue supporting their parishes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All parishes prioritize pastoral care for the people of the archdiocese, but in order to do this, parishes need to maintain their ministries and infrastructure,” the archbishop writes in a letter sent to all registered households.
He thanked those who continue to offer support and asked for prayers from those who are in economic distress.
A majority of parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville rely on in-person collections to fund their operations. Without public Masses, some are beginning to feel a loss of income and will soon face significant challenges, said Tink Guthrie, vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
To help fill that gap, the archdiocese has adapted its online giving portal for parishioners to make contributions to their parishes with a credit card or bank payment. Donors can select their parish from a list of all 110 parishes of the archdiocese.
“For parishes that have online giving already, parishioners are encouraged to use that opportunity,” Guthrie noted. The archdiocesan option “is a backup for a parish that doesn’t have the option. We’re not trying to usurp a parish’s online giving.”
Donors can also choose to support “parishes in greatest need,” which is one of the options on the selection menu.
“We will figure out how to make it go to those (parishes) where this suspension of Mass is having the most harmful impact,” he said.
A “nominal” portion of the contribution will go to the company that processes the payments, Guthrie said.
Dominican Father Kevin McGrath, pastor of St. Rose and Holy Rosary churches in Springfield, Ky., said on the first weekend without public Masses, March 21-22, the collection was “way, way down.”
Last weekend, though, some parishioners dropped their offertory contributions off at the parish office.
“I’m pretty confident that people are going to keep supporting the church,” he said during a phone interview March 30. “It might be less because people might be out of work or have limited hours. But I’m pretty confident we’ll be OK.
His relatively small parishes don’t currently have a way to give online.
“I haven’t sensed there was much a demand for it,” he said. “This is obviously a different set of circumstances.”
Noting that he doesn’t want to set up online giving without doing thorough research first, he said, “Letting the archdiocese do that is a great help.”
The online giving portal is one of a number of creative ways parishes and dioceses around the world are trying to lessen the effects of the pandemic on church life.
The portal “is not expected to be a single solution, it’s just one more opportunity to address some of the uncertainty,” said Guthrie. “It’s a piece in the overall strategy parishes are trying to build.”
For those who are concerned about sharing financial information on the internet, Guthrie said it’s a good instinct to be wary of online transactions.
“For our giving, the company that we use, I’m almost certain, is the largest for philanthropic giving in the U.S. It has sophisticated encryption and the data is not kept by the vendor or the archdiocese.”