Local diocese holds talks on financial challenges

February 23rd, 2024 3:00 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Fr Tom Hayes says there are pressures on the diocese’s finances. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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PARISHIONERS and priests from across the Cork and Ross diocese have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss ways of boosting the diocese’s coffers. The diocese says it needs to ‘sustain financially the mission’ of the diocese in the coming years.

The first meeting was attended by parish finance committees and priests from parishes in West Cork in Clonakilty last week.

Topics included various ways in which parishes can reach out to parishioners for support, ranging from the traditional basket collections at mass to standing orders and contactless donations.

The diocese also presented an overview of the recently audited 2022 accounts for the Cork and Ross Curia Trust (which funds the day-today running of the diocesan offices and activities), which showed a slight increase in donations and church collections for 2022, over the previous year.

In 2021, the diocese received a total of €633,000 in church collections, donations and bequests. However, this figure rose to just over €1m in 2022, the latest accounts show.

The increase may be partly attributed to a recovery since the more lean Covid years.

According to Fr Tom Hayes of Clonakilty parish, the diocese is facing a trend of falling income and increasing expenditure. He says this is largely because there are now a lot of lay employees doing work which was previously done by priests and religious.

‘There are also new roles which are necessary eg GDPR officer, safeguarding officer, financial administration and more,’ he explained. The meetings on church finances will continue in three other venues across the diocese in the coming days and weeks.

‘At parish leve l , congregations have not come back to pre-Covid levels but those who have are being very supportive,’ added Fr Tom. ‘The biggest challenge again is rising costs – energy for big churches, insurance premia, payroll for secretary, maintenance and repairs of what are old buildings.’

He said that a small number of churches have successfully piloted contactless payments, standing orders and online donations, in recognition of the fact that a lot of people don’t carry cash with them anymore. The plan is to extend the use of these in the parishes.’

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