The present crisis is causing real financial hardship to many families and individuals. They cannot – and are not expected to – give to their Parish Offertory at this time.
Our Patroness is Our Lady of Unfailing Help – and taking her as our model, we would all like to help those in need, the people and parishes struggling to make ends meet, as well as to keep up our obligations of supporting our retired priests, maintaining our Catholic churches and schools, and all those other Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy which, in today’s highly-regulated and legalistic environment, have become increasingly costly.
Our eighty parishes together comprise the Diocese of Leeds: the charity known as the Leeds Diocesan Trust. The majority of parish income comes through the generosity of our parishioners who have previously been contributing a weekly total of £100,000 to their Parish Offertories, giving as much or as little as they are able, according to their personal circumstances.
Many give to their parish by Standing Order, which means their donations are unaffected by the present ‘lockdown’. However, there are some parishes with few – or no – Standing Orders. Relying completely on Offertory Envelopes or cash on the collection plate, these parishes have now lost between 95% and 100% of their income.
To help each of our parishes, Standing Order and Gift Aid forms may now be completed online via parish and diocesan websites, and what little grant aid is available to Catholic charities is being actively sought.
In response to parishioners’ requests for means of supporting their own parishes, new ways of text and online giving have been developed. Visit https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/supporting-your-parish/ to find out more – and please make a contribution, if you are able to do so.
As Christ has no hands on earth but ours, this is how we are trying to ensure His hands can continue to reach out through the Church to give both spiritual and practical help and support to the people and parishes at the heart of our communities.