Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

How does your faith group collect money from the faithful and what is meant to cover? Does your church have other sources of income, such as investments? Can anyone ask to see the books?

The principal source of income for all our parishes is freewill offerings from the faithful. Other donations often take the form of bequests or donations made in memory of a late relative or friend. Other sources of income could include interest on investments of accumulated surpluses or parking lot and hall rental fees when they are not being used for weekend Masses. Interestingly, previous Archbishop Joseph-Aurele Plourde established a fund many years ago. Parishes with accumulated surpluses invest what they can, and receive interest. Parishes needing loans are able to borrow these funds at lower interest rates. In this way, more fortunate parishes come to the aid of the less fortunate.

The works of the central administration of each diocese are covered by a percentage of donations collected in each. The rate in Ottawa is 14% at this time. The diocese also receives some donations, bequests and interest and rental income as well, just like the parishes. The most significant interest income comes from the Endowment Fund which was established during the 150th Anniversary Fund Raising Campaign. It funds various diocesan pastoral ministries.

Income at both the parish and diocesan levels covers all temporal and pastoral operating costs, Every parish and diocese has a Finance Council which is made up of a number of parishioners. They prepare and administer the budget and ensure that there are enough funds to cover all the expenses.

Each parish makes an annual financial report to the Archdiocese which is also published in the parish. The members of all the parish finance councils are invited annually to the Archdiocese where they are given a detailed financial report on the Archdiocese so that they, in turn, can make it available to their parishioners. This exchange of information is essential, since the funds come from the faithful to begin with!