Priests tell the people: Parishes cannot survive without support

Miscellany/Deirdre C. Mays: Collection baskets sit empty at churches across the diocese.

Parishes around the Diocese of Charleston are taking a financial hit because of COVID-19, with giving in sharp decline, down between 50 and 60 percent since the crisis started, according to Carrie Mummert, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement.

This means that those who can still financially support their parish are needed more than ever before.

Mummert asks people to consider the “spirituality of stewardship” during this difficult time.

“Everything that has been given to us comes from God and is entrusted to us by Him, and we have to return it gratefully,” she said. “It is more important than ever to think about this during the pandemic, because we realize that some people might not be in a financial situation where they can give right now. Because of that, we need those that can continue to give to do so, and perhaps give more if they can.”

Even though public Masses and other ceremonies have been canceled, the work of the Church still goes on at the parish level, she said. Priests continue to celebrate Mass daily and handle administrative duties. Prayer groups, Bible study and young adult groups are meeting online, and parish staff are working to keep ministries going and to handle the daily needs of the parish itself.

“Our parishes cannot afford to lose their greatest source of revenue, which is collections on the weekend; and without us having public Masses it is really affecting their day to day operations — ministries still have to go on,” she said.

During Holy Week and Easter, Mummert encourages the faithful to pray about the amount they are able to give back to their parish and to look to Scripture for inspiration, especially the parable of the “talents” found in Matthew 25:14-30.

Across the diocese, parishes are using a variety of ways to promote stewardship. Some are contacting regular donors and asking them to make a special donation during the COVID-19 crisis, while others are using social media, the internet and even old-fashioned mail to reach out to parishioners.

Father Orlando Serrano Ardila, pastor of St. Mark Church in Newberry, said he and his staff are doing all they can to promote the importance of financial stewardship across the three churches that the parish serves. Father Ardila also serves Holy Spirit Church in Laurens and St. Boniface Church in Joanna.

They promote stewardship in the weekly bulletin published online, discuss it on social media and have sent letters to every member of all three churches explaining how to give online. He said Holy Spirit Church also is making use of a separate parish app for computers and mobile phones.

“We are trying all these things and we have to wait and see how it works, we have to be patient,” Father Ardila said. “The main message we are telling the people is that we depend on you for support both financially and spiritually. If you don’t support the parish, it will perish.”

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For messages from Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on giving and coming together as a community in the faith and strength of God, watch his videos here: and