Parish offertory collections up 4.1 percent; fewer people contributed
CHARLOTTE — The fruits of stewardship can be seen around the Diocese of Charlotte everywhere you look. Food pantries continue to be restocked, job seekers find support, and parishioners find new ways to reach out to the people in their communities who need spiritual or financial help.
Among the strongest indicators of this commitment to stewardship in the Diocese of Charlotte is the increase in financial donations, particularly offertory collections, over the past fiscal year – despite a drop in the number of parishioners who contributed.
Overall, parish offertory collections in the diocese are up 4.1 percent in the 2010-2011 fiscal year over the previous fiscal year. Of the diocese's 92 parishes and missions, 63 parishes saw increased offertory collections and seven parishes saw no change. Twenty-two saw drops in their collections, with eight of those parishes measuring declines of 5 percent or more.
This news bucks the latest national trend.
The annual study called the "Holy Toll," conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, part of the interfaith Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, reported last year that more than half – 57 percent – of Catholic parishes said their offertory collections had declined either "a lot or a little" during the recession which lasted from December 2007 and ended in June 2009 according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jim Kelley, diocesan director of development, said he is confident about the reasons behind the increased stewardship in the Charlotte diocese.
"It's because we've been teaching stewardship for a long time," Kelley said. "We've been cultivating an 'attitude of gratitude' and parishioners get it. They give back a portion of their time, talent and treasure. They truly understand the life of stewardship."
He also attributes the increased collections to parishes focusing on stewardship education. He said he sees higher donation rates in parishes that encourage stewardship, put more emphasis on spiritual development programs, step up their ministry efforts, and communicate more often and more openly with their parishioners.
"Even in times of economic decline, people keep giving to what means the most to them. People are continuing to be very generous," Kelley said.
For parishes who may not have seen an increase in their offertory collections, Kelley encourages them to contact the diocesan development office.
"The development office staff is always available to meet with pastors and parish leaders from any parish who needs help in addressing their offertory. The most effective way to do that is through stewardship efforts."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy