Our community is composed of members who are, according to government statistics and standards, relatively poor. The collections during masses say as much. During a Sunday mass, collections range from P3-5K. During weekday mass, range is from P150-300. A recent meeting and discussion with the Parish Finance Council revealed that our monthly collection evens out to around P20-25K. As pastor, I still do not get anything from the parish funds, instead I am fortunate to live on the kindness of the neighboring parish where I am currently staying, and from the diocesan subsidy if any.
Right now, after 9 months as a community, we were able to maintain 3 accounts, namely the parish funds, for the parish operations, which is currently around P150K, the construction fund amounting to P200K, and the scholarship fund, P220K, donated by friends to support around 30 college scholars and 50 vocational students.
Our parish provides the community, and anyone for that matter, a full report of our financial status. Donors are given official receipts. Audit and accounting procedures are followed.
It is observed that the more transparent the church is, the more generous people become. It can be that trust is gained. And that the needs of the church is seen. It can be both. And more.
What then if the community is so rich, that the church is overflowing with donations, with options to save and invest and even earn more on these investments? Will full transparency still work?
The church is no different from a publicly traded company. She should uphold strict measures in order to ensure that the resources entrusted to her by the stakeholders are put to good use. The hierarchy must be such that the leaders can be trusted to protect the common good, which is not the survival of the institution per se, but the survival of the least, the last, the lost.
The church is not a private institution. She should not be clouded in secrecy. Instead, she should be a model of good stewardship. It is not the goal of the church to enrich herself. Her goal is to save souls. The moment she walks the road towards self-preservation will be the moment that she will walk the road towards destruction.