By Catholic News Service
NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) — Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin has announced a Parishes in Need fundraising initiative specifically aimed at supporting continued outreach and archdiocesan parish communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The effort, coordinated with GoFundMe, a global online fundraising platform, will enable parishioners to provide direct support to local churches at a time when public celebration of Mass at churches in the Archdiocese of Newark and dioceses around the country has been suspended for the foreseeable future.
The website www.rcan.org/parishsupport was established for this program of online donations.
The suspension of public Masses has led the archdiocese and many parishes to now livestream Masses and other services online.
“The first place people often go in time of need is the local parish,” Cardinal Tobin said in a March 22 statement. “Under the current conditions brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, parishes are limited in the services they can offer to the faithful and those in need.”
He urged the faithful of the archdiocese to “please consider a tax-deductible contribution to our special Parishes in Need fund, which will be used to support those communities struggling to pay their employees, conduct outreach, and cover church utility bills through this crisis.”
Catholic parishes rely on weekly contributions from parishioners, known as the offertory collection, to support the work of each community, including staff wages and daily operations.
In addition to Masses, many parishes provide services beyond their parishioners, such as counseling, providing meeting spaces and conducting charitable drives for families in need.
While some churchgoers send contributions by mail, many prefer to place donations in collection baskets each Sunday during worship service, an archdiocesan news release noted.
Cardinal Tobin emphasized that all donors can designate their contributions specifically to benefit of their own parish, and that all monies raised will be sent directly to those churches for which they are earmarked.
The archdiocese will temporarily waive its assessment — an administrative fee charged to parishes to support archdiocesan operations and ministries — and GoFundMe will charge only a small fee per donation to cover payment processing, as is typical for online fundraising platforms.
The archdiocesan-wide parish support initiative, specially focused on supporting local parishes, is the first of its kind, the archdiocese said in announcing the effort, adding that Cardinal Tobin hopes other dioceses and ministries will follow suit.
“The faithful may also contribute through their usual channels, such as mailed envelopes, other online giving, and, especially, our annual (archdiocesan) appeal which is now in progress,” the cardinal stated, adding that many in the Newark Archdiocese have already reached out offering support. The archdiocese also has received many queries from people about how to give at this time of crisis.
“Together we will navigate these uncharted waters, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Newark,” Cardinal Tobin said. “We are grateful for the generosity of our faithful, and we will work together in prayer to move past this and prevent the suffering of the most vulnerable among us.”