Help me understand the use of offetory funds, tithes and donations at a parish:)


Welcome to the forums! I am not sure if this answers you or not, but here goes:Heat/Air conditioning is not free.
Electricity is not free.
Candles are not free.
Bread and wine are not free.
Music books are not free.
Priests food and lodging is not free.
Insurance is not free.
Paint, floor cleaner and linen are not free.
The parish secretary, DRE, PREP, etc. are not free.
School tuition does not cover all expenses (e.g. teachers are not free)
You get the idea perhaps? Once we have finished taking care of the basic physical needs of the buildings and grounds we need to pay for care of the Priests and those who run the administrative needs of the parish as well as the school (if there is one) and adult education opportunities. Additional funds are used for the various needs of the diocese/parish, sick, shut-ins, poor, etc. Is there something more specific you were asking about?


Yes your response perfectly fit with my thinking. However people get confused as some priest claim offetory to be a thanks giving for administering mass and belongs to them for their own use and itcausing a lot of dissatisfaction among the congregants.

Otherwise thank you very much for the explanation.:slight_smile:


I have never once in my life ever heard of a priest claiming such a thing. It is preposterous. I find it **EXTREMELY **difficult to believe that “some priest[s]” make such a claim. It sounds like the musings of an anti-Catholic tract. :tsktsk:


Where do these priests live?

I have never heard a priest say such a thing but I would also remind readers that traditions of how parishes and priests are supported vary from nation to nation.

There is also a difference between stipends and “regular offerings” for the support of the Church.


You are welcome.

Now, I have not heard of a parish priest ever thinking of donations as payment for the Mass - in fact, I am 100% sure it is against Church law to charge for a Mass.

What some may confuse is a donation linked to a Mass. For example, when someone close dies, I will go to my parish or a religious society and ask for a Mass to be said for the repose of their soul. There is a “suggested donation” that I give along with this request, however I am not paying for the Mass, I am offering a relatively small amount of money as a thank you to the parish/religious society to do with as they see fit. In most cases, this money goes either for the general upkeep of the parish or care of the poor.


Each Mass that the priest offers in a parish can normally be offered for a specific intention.

It may be offered for the intention of someone who has died. Sometimes this is listed in the bulletin with the person’s name and a small “+” next to their name, meaning “For the soul of Tom Smith.”

Other times the Mass may be offered for the special intentions of someone living. This may be listed in the bulletin as “Smith Special Intention”.

Customary, there is a stipend given to the priest who offers the Mass when the request is made. This money goes to the priest. It is his money. He does whatever he wants to do in spending his money.

Today in the US, this is usually $10.

People customary offer the priest or deacon a stipend who officiate a Wedding or celebrate a Baptism.


Well, somebody is confused but I don’t know who. I guess it would depend upon the situation in which the priest in question is living. I suppose that in some places a priest is not given enough contribution towards his room and board so that the regular weekly tithing would be mostly for his needs. But in the United States, a diocesan priest receives his pay check from the Archdiocese. Generally, the money that is put into the collection from tithes goes to the support of the parish to pay for the cost of running the parish. Regarding donations that are given to the priest for their service for Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, etc. are his to do with what he wants. Some priests get by with less than others and they give these donations to charities of their choice, however some of them use these donations as a supplement to their monthly income from the Archdiocese. It is their choice.

While it is good to be concerned about the parishes budget and where the money goes and be concerned about waste, such as waste of electricity with lights being left on and doors left open in the winter time letting the heat out etc. I do not let these things interfere with our duty to tithe and do our part with donations for services rendered.


Are priests in the US really paid by the dioceses? In Canada the priests are paid by their respective parishes, except in the odd case when the diocese has assumed responsibility for a parish’s finances – like ours recently did for three which don’t have Pastors and which our parish had overseen for decades. Our finance council refused to keep doing it.


Could we, from now, distinguish the OP’s question to mean “the offering” or the collection from the liturgical function and meaning of “the Offertory?” The terms are co-incidental, but not in any ways the same. Thanks.


No, priests in the US are paid by their parish, unless they work directly for the diocese.


In the U.S., the parish gives a percentage of the money collected at the offertory to the diocese. In some it is 12%, in another it is 18%.


A stipend is a check that you write directly to the priest for things such as a mass intention or a baptism. The money you drop in the plate covers the myriad things that someone mentioned above, including priest salaries.


There must be some confusion here. If a priest would keep the entire offering, how do things like heat, electricity, and staff get paid? The parish would go away pretty quickly.


I am not sure of the source of your numbers however they seem high. It is also not entirely correct that the diocese takes a percentage of each collection.

For example, in Philadelphia, the parish assessment (the money needed to run the diocese and its programs, including grants to less wealthy parishes) is set at 10.5% of the average of the last 3 years total collection totals.

This “amount billed” is a target that each parish is asked to donate, not a financial commitment that must be fulfilled. (I believe in Philadelphia if they get 80% of the requested assessment back it is considered a good year :D).




The administration of the goods of the Church are governed by canon law and by the particular law of your diocese.

You should contact your diocesan offices and speak to the vicar general or the office of stewardship if you have one. Ask them what the law is in your diocese regarding use of parish offertory funds.

This is no small matter if the funds are being misused. The Church does have guidelines on use of funds donated by parishioners along with regulation on the Mass stipends and offerings on the occasions of sacraments such as baptism/marriage/etc.


In our diocese the contribution from the parishes is set at 10% of all donations, excluding Mass stipends. We submit two cheques to the diocese, one for 8% of all donations for the diocesan expenses and one for 2% of all donations made out to the priests’ retirement fund.

There are many parishes in our diocese that only survive because they get grants from “Cahholic Missions in Canada”, luckily we are still able to pull our own weight. Sadly in a parish of ~450 families, only ~50 give regularly and those don’t include most of the wealthiest. The bulk of the regular donors are retired seniors. Our highest donor is a college professor who also supports family back in his third-world home country.


These assessment numbers seem high because . . . . they are :(. The 18% is Boston :sad_yes: and it is of the collection – not any average :bigyikes: . It is high. Many parishes have closed. The Cardinal is doing wonders, but he inherited a big, royal mess :blush:. Where I am now, the assessment is 12%. The parish could not pay it for a while and we are now making payments on that money we could not pay earlier/before :juggle:. It is a debt we had with the diocese. We are glad “they” are not charging interest!!! :smiley: The 12% is not a fine for prior nonpayment. It is just the assessment for this diocese to all parishes. This excludes Mass stipends.


Thanks for the references. I8% seems very out of hand, but as you said the situation in Boston is a bit of a mess. We are going through a number of parish closing and downsizing/selling of diocese properties in Philadelphia as well - the result I fear of years of financial mismanagement and not planning for the future.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit