Parish Finances

The sacramental, ministerial, and operational strength of our parishes in southeast Michigan is a reflection of the pastoral leadership, the commitment and generosity of the lay faithful, and community evangelization unique to each parish. Our parishes make it possible for us to fulfill our archdiocesan mission of unleashing the Gospel, becoming joyful missionary disciples who carry out Christ’s work. This is our mission as one people of faith in the Archdiocese of Detroit – to bring ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors to know the love of Jesus Christ.

Parish strength and vitality can be measured through the involvement of the faithful in the sacramental life including Mass attendance, participation in reconciliation, engagement in parish ministries such as Christian service, and in contributions that provide the financial wherewithal for parish and archdiocesan ministries and operations.

The handbook that outlines policies and procedures for every parish and school in the Archdiocese is updated on an ongoing basis. This is done to ensure all government regulations, laws and applicable taxes are reported and remitted in a timely fashion to federal, state and local agencies.

Church (canon) law requires every parish to have a Parish Pastoral Council and a Parish Finance Council. It is the intent that these and other improvements will foster better collaboration and oversight involving pastors and lay leaders, and more firmly establish a culture of Christian stewardship in each parish. As Archbishop Vigneron says, we must change our culture in the Archdiocese of Detroit – embracing our common mission of unleashing the Gospel in southeast Michigan and beyond. Importantly, the refounding of the Archdiocese of Detroit rests on the refounding of every parish,

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between parishes, their diocese, and their bishop?

The current administrative and hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church originated during the apostolic age following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Multiple passages in the New Testament refer to the body of the Church, including its leadership and roles, including 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11-16. St. Clement of Rome, the fourth pope after (and including) Peter, later affirmed the authority and responsibilities of bishops, priests, and deacons in Church matters. About 1,600 years ago, ecclesiastical (Church) provinces were formed. These geographic jurisdictions were named provinces because they existed in the Roman provinces in which the early Christians lived.

An ecclesiastical province now consists of an archdiocese led by a metropolitan, better known as an archbishop. The ecclesiastical province of Michigan includes the Archdiocese of Detroit, led by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, whose role is to provide pastoral governance. According to the Second Vatican Council:

"A diocese is a section of the People of God entrusted to a bishop to be guided by him with the assistance of his clergy so that, loyal to its pastor and formed by him into one community in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes one particular church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active."

An archbishop may be assisted by auxiliary bishops, of which there are four active in the Detroit Archdiocese. Bishops, in turn, are assisted by priests and deacons in ministering to the lay faithful. Parishes within a diocese are led by a priest known as the pastor. According to the Code of Canon Law that governs the Catholic Church: "He exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, in accordance with the law."

Church(canon) law regards parish goods as belonging to the parish. While parishes have a right in canon law to acquire, administer, and dispose of parish goods, since these goods also are goods for the benefit of the entire Church, when parishes want to make significant decisions concerning parish goods, including properties, the Archbishop must be consulted and approve what is proposed.

What are the sources of financial support for a parish?

The most important source of parish income is the Sunday offertory collection. Through envelopes provided to registered households, cash in the collection basket, or electronic deposits arranged by parishioners, the weekly offertory is the most consistent and largest source of income for parishes. The offertory is intended to address the operational costs of the parish. The weekly offertory should pay the parish expenses including staff salaries and benefits, programs and ministries such as religious education and Christian service, as well as building and grounds operations, maintenance, and repairs.

Parishes operating Catholic schools receive revenue from tuition and fees. While this revenue is designated to the school, it is offset by school operating expenses which often exceed revenues and require parish support (subsidies).

Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit that exceed their Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) fundraising target retain the funds they receive above their goal, and use the funds for parish needs. The CSA is an annual archdiocesan-wide collection supporting the operational expenses for dozens of Church ministries in southeast Michigan, including those provided through Archdiocesan Operations. Because all parishes benefit from the programs and services funded by the CSA, parish participation and fulfilling the parish target are mandatory.

Parishes are encouraged to participate in legacy giving, which involves parishioner bequests, wills, charitable trusts, estate planning, and other means of planned giving through which the lay faithful provide an additional depth of financial support. Other parishes engage in retailer rewards programs in which parishioners register with a retailer to rebate a percentage of purchases back to the parish.

What happens with funds contributed in the parish weekly offertory collection?

The parish keeps 93 percent of the funds and 7 percent is allocated to Archdiocesan Operations. For example, if a parishioner makes a $20 contribution to the Sunday offertory, the parish keeps $18.60, typically used by the parish for operating expenses. The remaining $1.40 fulfills the parish assessment to the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Operations. All parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit set aside 7 percent of their annual offertory collections to provide this assessment, known in Latin as the cathedraticum. In the Detroit Archdiocese, the assessment supports the programs and services coordinated through Archdiocesan Operations. Christmas collections are not subject to the 7 percent assessment. Parishes keep 100 percent of their Christmas offertory, typically the most generous collection of the year.

What services are provided to parishes by the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Operations?

Beyond pastoral leadership, Archdiocesan Operations offers direct support to parishes for ministries and programs that would be beyond the resources of any one parish to establish and sustain. Archdiocesan Operations support to parishes includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Financial services such as administering the archdiocesan Loan Deposit Program, the archdiocesan Endowment Foundation, the archdiocesan Priests’ Pension Plan; reviewing and tracking the financial health of each parish, and conducting parish audits
  • Facilities support such as building, property, and physical plant condition analyses; coordinating property sales and leases; and consulting on church building and renovation projects
  • Finance and administration works with the Michigan Catholic Conference on behalf of parishes to structure employee benefit programs, workers’ compensation coverage, as well as property and liability insurance, and liability claims coverage
  • Evangelization, catechesis, and religious education ministries support, including Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programs
  • Helping men discern the priesthood and permanent diaconate in southeast Michigan
  • Marriage and family life resources, including marriage preparation ministries
  • Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (Endow) study groups and other women’s ministries
  • Music ministry support and resources; formation for choirs, cantors, and choir directors
  • Helping men and women in broken marriages come into full communion with the Church through decrees of nullity (annulment) consideration for divorced Catholics through the Metropolitan Tribunal, Canon (Church) law consultations and opinions
  • Fundraising and stewardship consulting
  • Ministerial training and certification, as well as programmatic consultation for lay leaders in virtually every parish ministry, including youth and young adult ministries
  • Parish nursing support
  • Parish Empowerment, School Outreach, and Urban Capital Fund grants administration 

Is the assessment unique to the Archdiocese of Detroit? How often does it change?

Virtually all Catholic dioceses have an assessment, which is generally used to fund diocesan operations and services to parishes. Usually based on a percentage of the annual revenue of a parish, the assessment is sometimes adjusted to reflect area incomes, parish operating costs, and other factors. The Detroit Archdiocese assessment is based on parish operating revenue, including offertory collections (except Christmas), net fundraising income, net rental income, bequests and donations, and other miscellaneous operating income of the parish.

The 7 percent assessment in the Detroit Archdiocese is lower than most dioceses of comparable size in the United States, some of which have rates as high as 17 percent. The relatively low parish assessment rate in the Archdiocese of Detroit is due in part to the consistent success of the CSA, which is the largest annual campaign of its kind in the nation. The Archdiocese of Detroit assessment was raised 1 percentage point from 6 to 7 percent, effective July 1, 2010, based on parish financial reports submitted for fiscal year 2009 – 2010. Prior to this increase the assessment had been at 6 percent for more than 35 years.

How is the archdiocesan assessment different from the Catholic Services Appeal?

Introduced in the early 1980s, the CSA funds most of the ministries of the Archdiocese of Detroit, while the assessment supports Archdiocesan Operations. In other words, the assessment primarily covers the administrative expenses of the archdiocese, whereas the CSA funds ministries.

Numerous parish ministries benefit from CSA-supported archdiocesan departments and institutions, including Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools, and Parish Life and Services. The Office of Priestly Vocations, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, archdiocesan-wide Rite of Christian Initiation for adults (RCIA) programs, and the long-running, locally-produced televised Mass for Shut-Ins receive CSA funding. Because gifts to the CSA enable the Detroit Archdiocese to offer these ministries, programs, and services, parishes do not need to self-fund these efforts, which would be beyond the resources of any one parish to establish and sustain.

The CSA also funds contributions from the Detroit Archdiocese to six national and international Catholic ministries, which benefit from annual appeals issued by the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Because contributions to these ministries are made through the CSA, special collections for these ministries are not conducted in parishes of the Detroit Archdiocese. The six annual appeals funded by the CSA include: 1) Church in Latin America, 2) Black and Indian Missions, 3) Holy Land, 4) Catholic Home Missions Appeal, 5) Catholic Communication Campaign, and 6) The Catholic University of America.

How much has been contributed to the Catholic Services Appeal in recent years?

Parishioners in the Detroit Archdiocese provide exceptional support for their parishes and the CSA, which resulted in parishes exceeding the archdiocesan CSA goal for the last three years. According to a study by the International Catholic Stewardship Council, the CSA is the largest, most successful such appeal in the nation.


CSA Goal

Total Cash Received

Total Cash Returned to Parishes













Can CSA fundraising be used for parish capital expenditure projects?

Yes, CSA fundraising can be used to raise funds for parish and school capital expenditure projects such as major repairs and renovations, building additions, and construction of new buildings. After the parish receives applicable approvals at the parish level, a plan is submitted to the College of Consultors for their consideration. If the Consultors give approval to raise funds through the CSA, the parish has to come back annually to get fund raising approval while the project is ongoing. Once the project is complete the parish is no longer allowed to run fundraising income through the CSA.

The total cash returned to parishes noted above is primarily comprised of parish fund raising done for specific capital expenditures, along with cash received over and above the parish’s goal. Cash raised through the CSA for these purposes are not subject to the annual archdiocesan assessment, hence the reason to get the annual approval from the Consultors.

How is the CSA goal determined for each parish?

Each parish is assigned a formula-based target, established by the Archdiocese (click here to learn more). If contributions exceed the parish target, the parish receives 100 percent of those funds without any assessment. If a parish CSA collection falls short, the parish must cover the difference from parish operating revenues. Parishes are thereby incentivized to conduct energetic CSA campaigns.

Individual parish targets may change from year to year, depending on fluctuations in parish offertories and changes in the number of parishes. In calculating a parish CSA target, the most important factor is the parish’s annual offertory collection, including Christmas, specified in the parish annual financial report submitted to the Archdiocese. Parish CSA targets for 2018 were based on parish financial reports submitted for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017.

Credits can reduce the amount of annual parish offertory considered in the CSA calculation. Parishes operating schools and parishes providing Catholic school tuition assistance can have reduced CSA targets. The number of registered households, parish debt, or the prior year CSA collection are not included in the parish CSA target formula.

How do special collections work in the Archdiocese of Detroit?

In consultation with archdiocesan advisory councils and based on annual appeals issued by the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Vigneron determines the special collections to be taken at parishes in the Detroit Archdiocese. When natural disasters or humanitarian crises occur, the Archbishop may authorize special appeals.

In fiscal year 2017 - 2018, parishes were required to participate in the following six collections by announcing them at weekend Masses and providing parishioners the opportunity to contribute. Proceeds from these collections are forwarded by parishes within six weeks of the collection weekend to the archdiocesan department of Finance and Administration, which then remits the funds to the Catholic organizations engaged in these specific ministries. The six collections for fiscal year 2017 – 2018 included, 1) Aid for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, 2) Catholic Relief Services, 3) Peter’s Pence, 4) Propagation of the Faith (World Mission Sunday), 5) Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, and 6) Retirement Fund for Religious.

Some parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit take up a special collection in September to support the Archdiocese of Detroit Priests' Pension Plan, which is different from the Retirement Fund for Religious, a national program supporting retired men and women of religious orders, rather than diocesan priests. This special collection, With Thanks for Their Service in Christ, is generally held in December. Rather than take up a special collection, most parishes pay the priest pension assessment from their operating budgets. Participation in Operation Rice Bowl is optional and determined by each parish in the Detroit Archdiocese.

What are the primary sources of financial support for Archdiocesan Operations?

The Archdiocese of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Operations is primarily funded through archdiocesan assessment revenue from parishes, and the annual Catholic Services Appeal. In the fiscal year that closed June 30, 2018, assessment revenue to Archdiocesan Operations was $10,923,278, while CSA revenue in the same fiscal year totaled $17,855,740.

Does the Archdiocese own the buildings and grounds of parishes? What role does the Archdiocese have in parish finances and facilities?

Under civil (Michigan) law, the Archdiocese of Detroit is a “corporation sole” in which the Archbishop is the legal owner of all parish properties. While archdiocesan property in the Archdiocese of Detroit is titled and deeded in the Archbishop’s name, canon law considers parish assets as belonging to the parish and to be administered for the good of the entire Church. Under canon law, parishes can obtain, administer, and dispose of parish assets; however, because these assets are for the benefit of the entire Church, before parishes make significant decisions concerning parish assets, the Archbishop must be consulted and approve what is proposed.

Who develops and administers parish budgets? Are these budgets compared to actual financial activity and results?

Parish budgets originate with the pastor in collaboration with parish staff, the parish finance council, and the parish pastoral council. Decisions on parish budgets, building campaigns, and renovations should be reviewed by the parish pastoral council.

Parishes are expected to submit a realistic budget to the Archdiocese of Detroit annually in May. Parish financial reports are to be filed annually in August. Parish budgets are reviewed and potentially amended by Archdiocesan Operations. The Central Services Finance and Administration Department reviews budgets submitted by every parish in the Archdiocese, comparing them to the financial reports provided by each parish over the five previous years to determine if the budgeted amounts appear reasonable.

If a parish budget reflects a deficit or budgeted amounts appear significantly different from trends over the previous five years of activity, the archdiocesan Finance and Administration Department contacts the parish for clarification or a revised budget. Finance and Administration also reviews every financial report submitted by parishes. If information is missing, inaccuracies are found, or items do not comply with archdiocesan policies, requests are made of parishes to provide the missing information or submit a revised financial report.

What permissions must be obtained by pastors and parishes on capital expenditures?

Pastors can approve parish capital expenditures of up to $10,000. For capital projects costing from $10,000 to $25,000, the pastor must consult with the parish finance council prior to commencing the project and record the consultation in the parish finance council meeting minutes. For projects ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, the pastor must consult with the parish finance council prior to commencing the project, record the consultation in the parish finance council meeting minutes, and report the transaction to the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit by submitting an Expenditure Approval Request Form and a copy of the minutes.For projects exceeding $100,000 the pastor must first receive the consent of the parish finance council and written approval from the Archbishop prior to commencing the project, regardless of whether the parish has funding for the project in place.

As required by canon (Church) law, the Archbishop routinely consults the College of Consultors who provide guidance on financial matters including the acquisition and sale of goods or proprieties, before approving such transactions as pastorally desirable. If the Consultors deem the project desirable, the request then goes to Loan Deposit Program (LDP) administrators, who study each loan request for financial feasibility before referring the request back to the Consultors with a recommendation. The financial thresholds apply to the entire project and cannot be lowered by dividing deposits or payments. In all circumstances regarding parish capital expenditures, the pastor is encouraged to consult with his parish finance council.

It is generally expected that parishes have the necessary funds in place for major projects before seeking approval. This is to help ensure such projects are associated with a comprehensive fundraising plan, and are not underfinanced.

Are parishes required to report their finances to parishioners?

Archdiocesan policy calls for parishioners to receive a report of parish financial activity on an annual basis. Some parishes publish an annual financial report summary in their bulletins. Other parishes provide weekly summaries of offertory income in the bulletin. Consistent with Archbishop Vigneron’s commitment to accountability and transparency, parishes are expected to demonstrate good governance and stewardship by informing parishioners of parish finances. As stated in the Parish, Vicariate, and Archdiocesan Councils Handbook, parishes are expected to:

“Communicate regularly, but not less than annually, the financial condition of the parish, including sources and amounts of income, expenses, parish debt, unpaid bills, and parish savings and investments. The annual report is provided first to the Parish Pastoral Council, which communicates the information to the parish, and then to the Archbishop through the Department of Finance and Administration. A comprehensive report is an important element of accountability and transparency. Accountability completes the circle of stewardship and directly impacts parishioners’ willingness to give of their time, talents and treasures.”

Are parishes audited? Who does the audits and on what basis?

The archdiocesan Audit Services office manages a limited scope audit program focusing on parish financial and internal controls. Through this, a snapshot of parish financial activity is examined, including an analysis of the parish financial report. In situations where potential irregularities or procedural inconsistencies are identified, the audit review is expanded. Audit Services annually conducts approximately 60 parish and school audits, with the goal to routinely examine the books of every parish and school once every four years. Audit resources are prioritized on parishes that have not been audited in recent years, and when prompted by special circumstances, such as reports received through the archdiocesan EthicsPoint portal, through which suspicions of misuse of Church funds and property can be reported.

The archdiocesan Central Services Department of Finance and Administration also annually analyzes every parish financial report and budget. For selected financially challenged parishes, or parishes required to submit a debt repayment plan, archdiocesan Parish Support Services will perform a detailed financial analysis or cash flow analysis including projected financial results and recommendations to reduce projected deficits.

What safeguards are in place to prevent embezzlement situations from arising in parishes?

The Detroit Archdiocese encourages and facilitates the reporting of suspicions of misuse of Church funds or property. Pastors, parishioners, and members of parish councils share in this responsibility, while parish finance councils are charged with monitoring parish accounts, policies and procedures to ensure they are in place to minimize opportunities for inappropriate use of parish funds. For example, offertory collections should be transferred from Mass by two parishioners to a secure room and counted in the presence of at least two parishioners, then immediately transferred by two parishioners to the parish safe or deposited in the parish’s bank. The collection count should match the amount deposited in the parish bank account and the amount shown on the deposit slip. In addition, no parish checks are to be issued to “cash.” Details are specified in The Policy and Procedures Manual for Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The Archdiocese encourages any staff member, volunteer, or parishioner to report possible financial misconduct. The Archdiocese uses EthicsPoint, an independent third party company, to administer the archdiocesan financial misconduct hotline. Reports may be filed electronically or by phone at 855-234-9774. In the words of Archbishop Vigneron:

“We are grateful for your willingness to work with us to ensure the highest ethical and professional standards in all of our ministries as we are committed to being accountable to members of the Catholic community. The parishes, schools, and other entities of the Archdiocese of Detroit are dedicated to practicing sound stewardship with the gifts that are shared with us. All members of the church are responsible for ensuring that the funds we receive are used for the benefit of people we serve and for protecting our financial and physical assets from theft or misuse. The financial misconduct hotline is yet another way to ensure responsible stewardship. The hotline makes it easier for employees, parishioners, volunteers, vendors, and other parties to confidentially report any concerns related to financial matters. Neither the Archdiocese of Detroit, nor any affiliated entity, will retaliate or take any action against a person who makes a report. Every effort will be made to protect his or her identity and interests.”

Where do parishes keep their excess funds?

Parishes are authorized and expected to keep 60 days of cash in local bank or credit union accounts. Parishes are required to deposit and maintain their savings in the archdiocesan Loan Deposit Program (LDP). These funds are held in interest-bearing accounts. Parish investment accounts are restricted to the archdiocesan Endowment Foundation. Parish savings accounts or investment accounts outside the LDP or the archdiocesan Endowment Foundation are not permitted.

Does the Archdiocese of Detroit offer financial assistance to parishes?

Funds are available to qualified parishes and vicariates through the archdiocesan Parish Empowerment Fund (PEF), which awarded $631,638 in fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018.

Parishes eligible for PEF grants minister a primarily at-risk or ethnic minority population; have less than $25,000 in regular savings and no more than an additional $50,000 in designated special savings. PEF funds can only be used for salaries or programs, and cannot be used for other operating expenses, capital improvements, or for the purchase of equipment or vehicles. PEF grants are typically awarded to parishes with staff needs, such as salaries for directors of religious education, bilingual administrative staff, and business managers shared by multiple parishes. If a salary is granted, the parish or vicariate must pay all appropriate benefits. PEF-eligible parishes must have current and approved budgets and financial reports filed with the archdiocesan Department of Finance and Administration.

The archdiocesan Urban Capital Fund (UCF) grant program provides funds for emergency, unbudgeted, and unfunded capital needs, primarily to parishes in urban areas of the Archdiocese. For example, a church roof may begin leaking and require immediate repair exceeding parish funds. The UCF program is administered through the chancellor’s office. Grants are recommended to the College of Consultors, which makes recommendations to the Archbishop. The maximum per parish UCF grant is $25,000 per fiscal year. In the fiscal year that closed June 30, 2018, UCF grants totaling $22,791 were awarded.

Posted: February 2019
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