‘Come to the aid of churches in need’: Cork parishes struggling to pay bills

‘Come to the aid of churches in need’: Cork parishes struggling to pay bills

Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork and Ross. He has begun a conversation with parish finance committees and clergy of the parishes about sustaining the parishes financially into the future
 Pic: Brian Lougheed

THE Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross is in discussions with parish finance committees and clergy in the diocese about how parish finances can be sustained.

The move comes as churches remain closed for Masses and other services under level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

Since the first lockdown was announced last March, parish incomes have been hit by reduced contributions from parishioners.

Spokesman for the diocese, Fr Tom Hayes, told The Echo: “Parishes are reporting a significant loss of donations to the parish funds which meet the day to day bills for heat, light, staff wages, essential supplies, insurance, maintenance, etc. These funds depend largely on the collections taken up at weekend Mass.

“The precise effect of the pandemic will not be known until the accounts of all the parishes are returned and compiled and this is in process.”

“Bishop Fintan (Gavin) has begun a conversation with parish finance committees and clergy of the parishes about sustaining the parishes financially into the future. This will require a collaborative effort by all.”

He continued: “The majority of the parishes in Cork and Ross have now implemented an online donation facility which was coordinated by the diocese.

“There is a donate button on most parish websites where people can make their weekly offering and contribute to their parish collections, as well as the income for local clergy.”

In recent days, a message was posted on the Facebook page of the Church of the Ascension in Gurranabraher, appealing for help from the public.

The message said: “The lock-down, for the best part of a year now, has put crippling pressure on parishes to maintain Church structures. For parishes saddled with huge debt the pressure is even greater. Maintaining large church buildings with the daily out-lay in running costs — without any income — may well see some parishes not being able to survive this pandemic.

“For committed Catholics whose lives have been centred around faith and the Church the loss is huge. In truth, these are the people who have kept many of our churches open till now — just small numbers, (many of them pensioners), whose weekly contributions have paid the insurance, the heat and light bills, and the ordinary maintenance.

“We appeal now to not-so-committed parishioners who make no contribution at all — but who would still regret to see the closure of a parish church — to take on some responsibility and come to the aid of churches in need.”

Fr Hayes said Bishop Gavin, clergy, and parishioners are aware of the importance of public health guidelines, and he added: “It is regrettable but also necessary that we cannot come together for Mass.

“Volunteers and staff in parishes have worked very hard to ensure that our churches are safe for personal prayer visits, for funerals and the small number of weddings that are being celebrated.”

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