The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Financial picture for parishes will be clearer this fall

Finance director concerned about canceled fundraisers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published: March 16, 2021   
Aprille Hanson Spivey, Arkansas Catholic file
Lorena Garzon hands off a to-go dinner from Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Polish Karnawal to North Little Rock residents Jan and John Johnson Sept. 18. The North Little Rock (Marche) parish had to tweak and downsize their festival during the COVID-19 pandemic but still raised close to $13,000 for their school. Other parishes were unable to hold their usual fundraisers once the pandemic took hold.

When public Masses shut down for about three months in 2020 and with parishes at just 25 percent capacity once the faithful were able to return, there was a concern about parish income from weekly collections, as well as other money typically collected through church fundraisers. 

Revenue and expense reports for the fiscal year ending in June are sent to the diocese by each parish. 

“The June 30, 2020, reports showed that for all parishes, total weekend offertory collections in fiscal year 2020 were $33 million, compared to $34 million in 2019, a decrease of a million,” said Greg Wolfe, finance officer for the Diocese of Little Rock. “This represented a 3.1 perecent decrease diocesan-wide when compared to the previous year.” 

Initially, he had been prepared to see a 10- to 12-percent decrease in collections, representing approximately 50 percent of the normal giving during that time. 

While any decrease is difficult, Wolfe said he viewed the “3.1 percent decrease as a real testament to the faith and commitment of the Catholics in the diocese to support their parishes financially during the current crisis.” 

Wolfe said collection totals varied by parish. Forty parishes -- 33 percent -- reported an increase in offertory collections last fiscal year, while 83 parishes saw a decrease. 

The financial state of parishes won’t be clear until this summer when the current fiscal year closes June 30, Wolfe said, adding one of his concerns has been about canceled parish and school fundraisers. 

“Fundraisers provide additional income for parishes to operate, and in some cases, to provide subsidies to the parish school,” Wolfe said. “In the last fiscal year, fundraisers provided an additional $1.4 million in income to parishes.” 

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