While Masses are suspended, need to support parishes is critical
While technology has provided Catholics throughout the Diocese of Richmond the opportunity to watch livestreams of privately celebrated Masses, something that technology doesn’t allow for at those celebrations is the passing of the collection basket.
To make it possible for parishioners to financially support their parishes while Masses remain suspended, the diocese, through the Catholic Community Foundation, has established offertory.richmonddiocese.org.
“This is designed to be a way for someone to support their parish if their parish does not offer their own online giving solution,” Margaret Keightly, executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation, said in a release from CCF.
She emphasized that this is not a diocesan collection.
“When parishioners use the website, they can choose their parish,” Keightly said. “One hundred percent of funds raised through this website are sent directly to the parishes.”
She noted that less than half of the 138 parishes in the diocese offer the option of online giving to their parishioners.
“It is a goal of the diocese to make sure all parishes have an online giving solution in the very near future,” Keightly said.
In addition to facilitating the website, she said the staff of the Catholic Community Foundation is focusing all of its resources and time to assist parishes.
“We want to help them in whatever ways possible to meet their financial needs so they can continue to minister to their flocks, pay their devoted staff members and, ultimately, keep their lights on,” Keightly said.
Bishop Barry C. Knestout said offertory.richmonddiocese.org should be seen as an “opportunity for giving, but not a demand.”
“I am sympathetic and understanding of those who are faced with financial hardships due to the economic impact of COVID-19,” he said. “The understandable response to that is to hold back, hold on to what we have — especially those who are struggling with uncertainty about their employment, uncertainty about how they’ll make ends meet. It is understandable that charity begins at home.”
Bishop Knestout said that even though availability of the sacraments is limited, the work of the Church continues.
“The work of the Church in charity, spiritual direction and the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass, even though it is difficult to be present, are graces and helps for all of us in terms of salvation,” he said. “That work continues so there is a need for our parishes to be supported.
The bishop said that while there are those who are not able to contribute as they have due to financial difficulties, he hoped others will be generous.
“There are many in our community who have the resources and abilities and who are in a position where they can continue to support the Church,” Bishop Knestout said. “We ask that they think about the Church and be as generous as they can.”
He said that in giving, people are “imaging our Lord and caring for those who are in need.”
“The need is ongoing, even when the environment is harsher and more challenging, so that generosity is greatly appreciated,” the bishop said.