There are a Myriad Ways to keep a Parish Viable
Wesley Seale, Grahamstown – One feels compelled to respond to the suggestion made by Sheldon Vandrey (January 18).
There are myriad ways to get a parish more financially viable. The one Mr Vandrey suggests is not a bad one but it is not necessarily sustainable.
What happens on a rainy day? Never mind that not all families attend Mass, will they then still contribute? We don’t ask why they are not attending. But that discussion for another day.
Sustainability, as developmental literature would indicate, has to do with principles of accountability, participation and yes, fighting corruption, that is, the use of public resources for private gain.
Too often priests are literally kings in their parishes. The law permits a priest to approve anything up to a certain amount on his own with no consultation, a higher amount in consultation with his finance committee; “his” because he appoints them. Whether he allows himself to be examined as to how parish finances are spent is another thing.
Too few people see something wrong with the parish priest using the parish car and parish petrol to go on holiday or use on his day off. Neither the car nor the petrol are his. This is corruption. He is using resources for public use for personal gain. Yes, this does open the discussion of whether he should then earn a taxable income.
Personally, I do not support the Advent or Lenten appeals because we have no say in where the money goes.
Participation in decision-making is a cornerstone of good governance. Many people support charities because they know where the money is going and often charities who spend on things the money was not intended for lose credibility.
Sustainability of parish finances is more than just raising more money. It is about changing our perception of how we view our role as Church.