Editorial: Invest in the future

By 
  • August 27, 2020

The news that parishes have taken a financial punch to the gut during the pandemic is not surprising. What can’t happen is allowing them to wallow in financial uncertainty, threatening the services that have defined Catholic values and, in so many ways, our lives. 

Six months have passed since COVID-19 spread its deadly tentacles into Canada and turned lives upside down. In rapid succession, the daily routines of our ordinary lives were no more, twisted or obliterated by a virus we’d never heard of before but will never forget. All of a sudden, there was no more eating out, no more parties, no more sports, no more theatre, no more travelling … no more church. 

Almost as quickly, we forced ourselves to cope — masks and face shields, disinfectant and endless hand-washing, Zoom meetings, working from home, school via Internet, church on TV.

As the world slowly re-awakens from the coronavirus nightmare, it is clear there have been elements of daily living that changed for the long haul. Many businesses closed for good and many more will take years to recover financially. 

The Church will go on, of that there is no doubt. The faithful have long demonstrated their allegiance to ensuring a Church that is alive in the community.

The parish, at its core, is a family business, serving its members from cradle to grave, from baptism to funerals. There are the sacraments, of course, and Mass, but so many other things, too. The outreach programs, counselling services, street ministries, youth programs, immigrant and refugee aid … all valuable, living examples of Catholic values and supported through Church organizations such as ShareLife.

They all count on the prayers and charity of parishioners, so when the pandemic closed churches and put a virtual lid on the collection basket, that hurt. Staying home, for many, has also meant a break from the habit of sliding a bill into a weekly church envelope.

It is heartening to note that many parishioners started a new habit with credit card donations that significantly rose in the early months of the pandemic. Many people have kept up their weekly donations, but still parish incomes dropped by half or more in the spring, despite parishioners digging deep, emergency funding from the government and financing from dioceses.

Now, with only limited seating available in churches, it’s evident a revenue rebound will be a long-term project. Credit card and online donations — perhaps the best way forward to ensure stability — took a dip with the opening of church doors, and collection baskets can’t do all the heavy lifting.

One of the great byproducts of the pandemic has been the inspiring acts of kindness, from frontline workers to ordinary citizens, doing their best to look out for one another. That is our calling, as citizens and Catholics.

It’s not charity; it’s investing in our spiritual future, and that’s good business.

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