28% of US parishes have more than $1M in revenue


Because of parish mergers in the Northeast and Midwest and larger parishes in the South and Southwest, 28% of parishes in the United States now have $1 million or more in revenue, according to a report in Our Sunday Visitor.

Per-capita giving tends to decrease in larger parishes that resulted from mergers, according to the report.

There seems to be a mixed message here. I wish there were more supplied data.

I agree, not a lot of information.

My first thought was that in some of the Chicago suburb parishes, a million bucks is enough to pay the bills and that’s about all it will cover. :rolleyes:

As for people not giving as much after a merger, couldn’t this be because they are hurt over the heartbreaking loss of their home/childhood parish to a merger, and they have to heal before they can start giving of themselves, their time, and their money again?

That’s my thinking too. Also it isn’t all that refreshing to have to travel further to meet your obligation. I’m always in fear that the Mass I attend, whether OF or EF, will be discontinued or moved if attendance starts to dwindle noticeably. Over time I guess it’s expected.

For what it’s worth here are some stats.


Here’s another article.


Key point IMO

“The perception in smaller parishes is, ‘What I give really matters,’” Gray said. “Where in bigger parishes it’s, ‘There are so many other people giving, my parish will be fine even if I can’t give this week.’”

My parish has revenues well over that and barely makes ends meet. By the time you pay two priests, a parish manager and youth minister, various insurances, pay the utilities and facility repairs, mortgage payment and tithing (10% of revenues go to outside giving) there ain’t much elective money left in there.

My favorite are the young firebrands who want the church to voluntarily give up tax exempt status so they can speak freely on spiritual issues that directly affect politics. Such hotheads rarely have spent the effort to assess the effects when people’s ability to give is suddenly reduced by 20-30% (not tax deductible) and the parish suddenly incurs a couple HUNRED THOUSAND dollars in real estate taxes every year (presuming that the parish is like ours and would be retail zoning if not a church).

This is a good point. We had a situation locally where there was pressure to demolish an old non-denominational church just so they could find a for-profit business to occupy the same space and pay the real estate taxes on it, of course. There were a small but significant number with sufficient money who appealed and it’s a very nicely restored church building today.

The OSV article (which the CatholicCulture article is likely based on) gives more details. They give 3 likely explanations for decrease in giving:

First, parish closings and mergers leave some parishioners angry or hurt. Second, as parishes grow, it becomes easier for people to “get lost” in the parish and feel less connected. Lastly, with more people to support parish endeavors, some feel less of an obligation to do so themselves.

Sounds about right to me.

I too am disturbed by people demanding churches give up non-profit status. It professes such a lack of insight in both how churches operate and how taxes work.

  • As a non-profit, they never have a profit to tax :smiley:
  • Any investment income or real estate investments are subject to tax.

And at the same time the NFL is able to operate as a tax exempt organization, etc.

A lot of people are so out of touch they think a million dollars is a lot of money. A shortage of priests is the main reason parishes have become so big. The parish where I attend Mass during the summer has 3300 families or more than 10,000 members and just 3 priests. The parish subsidy to the school is more than $1,000,000.

My old high school in Illinois has 1300 students with a roughly $10,000 per year tuition. That is $13,000,000 before the money raised from donations, but is a real bargain if you consider that they average 647 math and 647 verbal on the SAT’s and the nearby Chicago Public Schools spend $18,000 per student with much lower scores and graduation rates.

It’s not just the priests. It wasn’t that long ago the religious were teaching Catholic schools and tuition was minimal.

I don’t have the stats but I’ll bet there was more pro bono work done by the parishioners (carpenters, electricians, accountants, etc.) in the past.

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