I need suggestions


Here’s what a friend of mine is going through.

“I got a nasty letter from the parish today.
They wrote and told me that I was NOT attending Mass, and were going to pull my son’s tuition assistance. I did miss a few (as you well know), but called Father John to tell him of such and explain that the kids were sick once, I was out of town once, and I was sick the other time.
I don’t use the envelopes; rather, I use cash money. I have been told to use them over and over…I told the lady on the phone that I, “felt like an *** throwing 13 cents into the collection basket.” Now I have to write a letter and explain myself…again. I am so worried. Tell me what to do!”

I don’t know how to answer this.

What is your judgement?


It woud seem harsh to question a person after missing mass three times. However, your failure to use envelopes may be the cause of the problem. Why do you choose to make your parish support without use of the envelopes? Many parishes with schools provide monetary support to the school. In turn the parish expects school families to support the parish.

Forgive me if I a mistaken; but the tone of your post sounds combative and hostile. Are you involved in any parish work? Do you support your parish with your time, talent and financiallly?

Now, I do not believe that any parish [or catholic school] is going to extract ‘blood from a turnip’ My grandson receives a scholarship to attend our parish school, based on family economics. My daughter’s family still meets the expected weekly contribution. If they coulld not, my daughter would communicate that with the principal and our priest.

That said our school families are expected to contribute $10 each week [but the contributions can be made monthly, quaterly, annulay, etc] In addition they ar expected to volunteer and fund raise.

Non catholics [when there is a rare opening not filled by a parishioner] is over $7,000 per student. A parishioner pays around $5,000 +/- due to archdiocesan and parish subsidies. In addition, there are scholarships and other assitance based upon need.

In general, all parishioners should make pledges and use the envelopes to assist the parish administrative council, pastoral councill and parish staff in budgeting and providing services to all the parishioners. AFter all you want the school you want the parish buildings and all that comes with them [lights, flushing toilets and toilet paper, missalls hymnals, Eucharistic bread and wine, support for the home bound, gymnasiums, religious education and adult education programs, etc].


As far as most churchs (where the Priest does not know wveryone) are concerned if you do not use your weekly envelopes then you are not attending… this is how they keep track of you;) …I suggest you tell your friend to start using his envelopes!


Exactly - the parish authorities can’t use mental telepathy to learn whether you’re attending Mass and/or contributing financially you know!

The envelopes are indeed their form of roll-taking for those who are obligated to attend. It’s not too difficult to use them, and as has been pointed out you can pay for a month, a quarter or whatever at one time (just slip a note into the envelope stating that this is your monthly/quarterly/whatever contribution)


Thanks. :slight_smile:


I don’t know. I know a lady who was sued for unpaid tuition. The deal was she and her dh filed bankruptcy but kept the tuition debt out of the settlement because they wanted to pay it. They called the principal to let her know that they would pay it as soon as they could.

Then, they transferred to another Catholic school so that their son could receive special ed (offered at the new school but not the old). The old principal sued them and then called the new school and humiliated her. The judge dismissed the case–he was disgusted with the school.

So, this family in crisis, struggling with learning disabilities (two kids with degrees of autism), financially devastated and all ready feeling low due to debt, is humiliated despite their best efforts to keep their kids in Catholic school.

They pulled the kids out, put them in public school and left the Church.

Sometimes, Catholic schools don’t act so Christian. :frowning:


That’s awful :(. When I was growing up and going to Catholic school along with my younger siblings, our parish/school priest told us to put an envelope in every week as well, but that it didn’t have to contain money because it was for tracking attendance. We were struggling a lot financially at the time and our pastor knew this. I don’t know how my parents felt about it, because I could see how that could be embarrassing, but they did it and no one knew the difference.


Our parish allows people to set up their contributions via autopay. It’s really nice, because you don’t have to remember to write out the check and remember the envelope every week, they don’t have the expense of printing and sending the envelopes, and the parish can depend on your regular donation even if you’re sick or out of town. All you have to do is bring money for the special collections.

When you talk to your pastor, mention the message that the parish school is sending by making written accusations without talking to the person and by imposing fines on grounds that the parents were not informed of beforehand.

I will bet that there is no place in the school handbook that says, “Families who are paying in-parish tuition will be put under surveillance and sent threatening letters if they fail to attend Mass at our parish without later coming to the parish office and explaining each absence to the secretary. Support of the parish is mandatory, and will not be counted if the proper envelopes are not used.”


Actually our school does state that Envelopes are to be used so they (the school & parish) know that you are actually giving money and attending mass


That, I can easily believe. The part about how parents are going to be treated if they don’t comply is another matter.

TO OP: Also, ask your friend to talk to the priest about her contribution. Perhaps she can throw the envelope into the basket with a blank piece of paper in it, or a note explaining that she makes her contribution in cash at the office once a month. (It is not as if the secretaries don’t know her financial situation.)

Also, the priest probably does not report to the office staff about people who come to him about having missed Mass. The spiritual aspect of it is his; the paperwork aspect is theirs. He may want you to either call them or else put a note in your collection envelope concerning that when you have had to miss.

The letter was unfortunate, her decision not to use the envelopes was unfortunate, but this can still be dealt with.


I have been known to put envelopes in the basket without money in them, just to show we were there. I also put notes on them and in them, such as, “If we are not here, we are at St. Whatsitsfrats, because they have an early morning Mass, and our parish doesn’t.”

Our area doesn’t have parishpay.net yet, but I have set up a payment through ebanking. It drives the office manager nuts! It is not an envelope, and the paper check is not what is being expected. And yet, there is my whole payment history at the end of the year, in black and white. I can compare it to the one I receive from the parish.


I really hate when Catholics tell stories that denigrate the Catholic Church, Catholic priests, nuns, Catholic schools, and similar. Even if this happened to you and you were telling me the story, my reaction would be that you are telling me what you want to tell me from your perspective. And when it is a “he said that she said” kind of story, it is even less credible.

The bottom line is that Catholic schools have these rules about attending Mass and using envelopes for very important reasons. Specifically, parishioners who support the parish financially usually pay less tuition at the Catholic school than non-parishioners because they are already supporting the parish financially. The parish and the diocese in turn are using that financial support to finance the Catholic schools. And yes, people claim to be parishioners and then don’t attend Mass or don’t contribute to the parish. If you say you are a parishioner and that you will contribute a certain amount, how can you get hot and bothered when you are called to account for not fulfilling your part of the bargain?

It is very clear that those who complain the loudest about using envelopes are not supporting the Catholic Church. These are usually also the same people who get angry when they can’t be married in the Catholic Church of their choosing or their kid can’t be baptized because they aren’t practicing Catholics. Then they tell everyone how awful the Catholic Church or priests are and that’s why they aren’t Catholic anymore (except to criticize). Let’s face it folks, there are no free lunches! If you are not supporting the Catholic parish, then you are mooching off me who does. So I am not the least bit sympathetic to these stories.

Sorry for the rant.


ReginaNova, you do not have to apologise for the rant. Support of a parish is a very important topic and my experience mirrors your.

There truly are poeple who struggle financially, this is very true. No one expects them to contribute to a parish rather than purchase groceries and feed the kids. However, the weekly contributions most catholics put in the collection plate in relation to their earnings [and other descretionary spending] would make the “Widows mite” look like she gave a huge sum of money.

A few years back our archdiocesan average envelope contribution was $6.00 per week. Affluent parishes [like the one I belong to] was $8.00 per week. Minimum wage [in my state] is $7.25 per hour $314.16 per week or $1,256.66 per month or $15,080.00 per year depending on how you look at it]. At a 5% tithe this minimum wage earner should easily contribute $15.70 per week.

In the last year at my parish [2000 plus families] less than 50% contribute using a check or the provided envelopes. Of those nearly 50% contribute less than one dollar. Only few families contribute more than $60 per week. As I said the average is about $8.00 or $ 416 per year. This is less than 3% of a minimum wage job.

And my parish has many doctors, lawyers, engineers, and professionals from every field. Many mothers are stay at home moms. We do have some young families that are not affluent and many retired folks but I live in one of the most afluent communities in the area. It is known for its economic base. And it is not that these people don’t give of time and talent and funds. It is just that they don’t translate the needs into weekly support. They would rather pay the tuition than pay realistic parish support amounts. They wait until the roof is leaking and the carpet is faded, then pony up large amounts. They would not work for the same pay that they feel is adequate for the parish staff and parish school staff.

I saw a report once that said most catholics support their parish at the sae [or narly same] monetary level their parents did thrity or forty years ago. The roported quoted one man “My dad put a couple of bucks in the collection, I put double that”

And a starbucks coffee costs how much?




I have a sister who also receives tuition assistance and goes to Mass weekly also, but can’t afford to put much in the envelopes. The priest told her not to be ashamed of what is put in, that is was to see if she came to church on Sundays. As others have said, this is the way the church checks on your attendance. My sister was even told that if she really could not afford anything, to still put the empty envelope in the collection basket.




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