The COVID pandemic crisis is creating a number of questions that people are trying to grapple with, so my hope is that, over time, I can help by sharing some reflections on them.
An issue of significant concern, and which would be of no surprise to you, is that of financial support for our parishes. This is what I’d like to address briefly with you in this message.
The parishes are in need of your financial support right now, and need the support of us all. The problem arises, of course, from the fact that we are not having public celebrations of mass as long as the public health imperative requires this. This means that donations are not being received at the parish in the way they used to be: in the collection taken at mass. This, like so many other areas of our lives right now, needs to happen in new ways. So, I’m making this special appeal to you to continue to offer your financial support, in ways that I will propose in a moment. It is urgently needed.
First of all, though, let me say this: I know that these are financially challenging times. You may have lost your job, or your business viability may be threatened. Your savings may have been diminished by market conditions. And I understand that your primary financial responsibility is, of course, to your own home and family. I hope you’ll understand that I still need to ask that you also remember your spiritual home, which is your parish. I’m inviting you prayerfully to consider how you can continue to support your parish’s mission, to the extent possible during this extraordinary time.
Here’s a possible guideline you may find helpful to follow as you consider what you can give to support the parish. The suggestion is simply this: give back to the Lord by giving to the parish your first hour of your weekly wage. This comes from what the Bible itself teaches about giving to the Lord. We give back out of gratitude, recognizing that all that we have and are is God’s gift. The Bible teaches not only why we give but also how. It calls us to give back to God “the first fruits” of the harvest, an expression reflective of the agrarian context of the ancient people of Israel. Today we would think of “the first fruits of the harvest” in terms of wages, hence the idea of giving back to the Lord the first hour of what we earn. Now, in the current circumstances, I fully recognize that amount might be less than it was just a few weeks ago. But whatever you can offer will be greatly appreciated and very gratefully received.
How might you make your offering in this unusual time? Well, we are blessed to have a variety of ways to continue to support the parish in the absence of the Sunday Offertory. I invite you to consider the following methods and pray about how you might be able to help.
- Consider setting up Pre-Authorized Giving. Contributions would be withdrawn from your bank account monthly. Your parish can provide you with an application form to complete.
- Consider giving electronically. This is a very intentional way to give. It is also the most socially responsible and financially secure way to give during this pandemic. Visit your parish website to make your Sunday offering online. Monthly donations can be set up using your credit card.
- If your parish doesn’t have the capacity to receive your gift online, you could donate by going to the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton website at caedm.ca/donate. We will forward your donation in accordance with your directive.
Of course, even though it is less secure and more labor intensive, you can still:
- Mail your donation envelope in weekly to your parish office.
- Drop your donation envelopes off in the mail slot at your parish office.
Thank you very much for your generous support. It’s really needed. Please be assured that you are always in my prayers. If there is any way your parish priest or the pastoral staff can be of service, please do not hesitate to call the parish office. These are challenging times, and we want to help.
Stay well! God bless.
✠ Archbishop Richard W. Smith
24 April 2020