BRIDGEPORT—Online giving and other funding methods will become increasingly important over the coming weeks as parishes feel the significant negative and lasting impact of the Coronavirus on their finances.
The Bishop said that many people want to continue to contribute to their parish and help others during the crisis, but they need help making the transition to online giving.
In response to the situation, the Bishop issued a letter to pastors on March 23 outlining a number of steps the diocese will be taking to assist parishes including establishing a universal offertory program later this week.
A link will be placed on the Diocesan website enabling parishioners to make a one-time or recurring donation to any parish. All donations received will be deposited in a central Diocesan fund and then distributed to parishes as defined by the donor intent on a monthly basis. Additional details will be forthcoming within the next few days.
Bishop Caggiano said that he expects that many parishes could feel financial challenges because of their inability to conduct the weekly offertory collection, and he urged pastors and parishioners to give online during the time of crisis. He also praised pastors and priests for all they’re doing to reach out to parishioners.
“These past few weeks have brought us unprecedented challenges. I am deeply grateful for the many creative and innovative ways in which you are ministering to your parishioners in this time of crisis. Caring for the spiritual well-being our of people is essential and always our highest priority,” said the Bishop.
The Bishop said that in-pew Offertory donations have always been the principal means of providing for ongoing expenses related to ministry, maintenance, staff and other pressing needs, and he asked pastors to consider a number of options in place of them.
“Many Pastors keep in touch with their parishioners through email and other electronic means as a means to help promote financial support,” he said, noting that almost all of the parishes currently have adopted online giving, but they need to make parishioners more aware and create easier access for donations.
After meeting with diocesan finance leaders and other officials, the Bishop asked pastors to place an “Online Giving” tab prominently placed on the parish website and to include Online contribution options for reoccurring contributions and one-time and other specific contributions.
Parishes that have not implemented an online giving program will be able to work with resources provided by Our Sunday Visitor OSV, which has a dedicated phone line for parishioners for setup or other issues. Parishes can also contact Patricia Krause, Diocesan Parish Finance—Project Coordinator at 203.520.5602 (cell) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with on-line giving.
Parishes that are feeling immediate challenges will be able to find support Within Foundations the “Saint Francis Xavier Fund” of Foundations in Faith. been established to support mission parishes.
The Bishop said he is currently working with the Board of Foundations in Faith to seek their approval to extend the availability of certain of these funds to support those parishes that experience significant cash-flow challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
If approved, parishes can apply to Foundations in Faith for financial support to help cover short-term operating expense shortfalls. More information will be provided by Foundations in Faith in the coming days.
The Bishop has also asked pastors and administrator to consider establishing a “GoFundMe” page that will focus on providing assistance to parishioners who are suffering grave financial hardship due to this pandemic or support an already-established social justice ministry within the parish for those in need.
Parishioners can do their part by visiting their parish website and looking for online giving opportunities.