Catholic parishes that immediately began offering ways for parishioners to experience parish life online during the lockdown have seen their offertory stay steady or grow. Those who did not, but decided to shut down and wait things out have seen it wither. The Washington Post reports on a study from the Center for Church Management of 163 Catholic parishes.
My own parish, which is an inner-city parish that has often struggled financially, is a prime example. Our offertory is steady from 2019 and much of that is due to Fr. Michael’s work in ensuring there’s livestreamed Masses in English and Haitian Creole and Cape Verdean (our three languages). There’s also been online religious formation and Bible studies and other ministries. In-person Masses have been well-attended to the limits possible and have well-organized. Outreach to the poor has been ongoing as well. We’ve also had online offertory for a while, but I don’t know how many parishioners use it.
People support their parish if it works to be part of their lives and if the people see strong efforts by the parish to connect with them in difficult circumstances. But if the parish shuts down or hunkers down, it is easily forgotten or overlooked.
- IMG_1290: Own photo