Norms for Parish Finance Councils
In the Church, a parish, which is a stably constituted community of the Christian faithful whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor under the authority of a diocesan bishop, is by its establishment a “juridic person” ( canons 515 and 113, §2). The pastor/administrator has the primary responsibility to represent the juridic person of the parish and administer its goods in accord with the norms of canon law (canons 532 and 540).
As set forth in canon law, the Archdiocese requires that every parish have a Finance Council to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish (canon 537). The Archbishop exercises vigilance over the administration of all juridic persons subject to him and has the authority to issue norms governing that administration, including norms for parish finance councils (canons 537, 1276).
Catholic schools are not independent juridic persons unless specifically established as such by the bishop. Thus, the finances of a parish school are also within the purview of the parish Finance Council. If it is deemed advisable for a parish school to have a separate group of experts to assist in financial matters, that group does not replace the role of the parish Finance Council and must work in collaboration with the parish Finance Council.
The parish Finance Council is accountable to the pastor who has the responsibility for final decisions. When, after consultation and discussion with the pastor, the advice or recommendation of the parish Finance Council is unanimous on a given matter, it would be extraordinary for a pastor not to act in accord with such advice or recommendation. In these norms references to pastor include an administrator where the parish is overseen by an administrator.
II. Structure of the Finance Council
A. Members of the Finance Council shall be appointed by the pastor and if necessary are not required to be members of the parish community. Members are to represent the parish at large. No member will represent a specific group or ministry within the parish or school community. When a pastorate becomes vacant, the Finance Council members submit their resignations to the new pastor who may or may not accept the resignations. The pastor can accept the resignation of the entire Finance Council only in conjunction with his appointment of a successor Finance Council.
B. Members should be skilled in business and have some expertise in management, financial, accounting, legal, fund raising or some related field. A pastor is encouraged to seek members for the Finance Council from outside the parish to supplement expertise available in his parish.
C. The membership of the Finance Council may not include anyone who could have a conflict of interest. For example, anyone who is or becomes, at any time, a vendor to the parish or has or undertakes a business relationship with the parish shall not be a member, and if then a member, shall so advise the Finance Council and resign. No member of the parish or school staff and no relative of the pastor is to be a member of the Finance Council. The parish bookkeeper, lay administrator, or business manager of the parish attend all meetings as non-voting participants, since their activities are an integral part of the scope of a Finance Council. The school principal should be included as a non-voting participant in all meetings at which school finance matters are considered.
D. The Finance Council shall have a minimum of three members and a maximum of ten members. Members shall serve for three years. The terms of the Finance Council will be staggered to ensure continuity. Upon the initial formation of a Finance Council the pastor shall designate either a one-, two-, or three-year term, in succession, for each member the pastor has appointed. Thereafter, members who are appointed or re- appointed shall serve for three years. In the event a member resigns or is removed by the pastor for just cause, the replacement will assume the remainder of the term of the person being replaced. Ideally, members will serve no more than two consecutive terms. The pastor, in consultation with the Finance Council, shall designate a chairperson from among the members. A member of the Finance Council or a parish or school staff person who is not a member may be designated as secretary.
Members of the Finance Council must exercise prudent judgment concerning the confidentiality of any parish or school financial records or information to which they have access. Except for the pastor, no member of the Finance Council shall have access to records of individual parishioner financial contributions or any other confidential information concerning individual parishioners. Compensation to employees shall be reported in a manner that assures confidentiality for the individuals. In addition, the subject matter and discussions of the meetings shall be treated as confidential until a consensus decision has been reached and the Finance Council or pastor have concluded that the matter may be disclosed to the parish community or interested parishioners, as appropriate.
IV. Functions of the Finance Council
The pastor is responsible for all financial decisions and will establish annual operating budgets for the parish and school in consultation with the Finance Council. The pastor should also develop an annual capital expenditures budget, including sources of funds, in consultation with the Finance Council. Actual income and expenses for the parish and the school should be reported monthly and reviewed by the Finance Council at least quarterly. As applicable, current year results should always be compared with the budget and prior year results. Variances should be discussed and resolved by the Finance Council and the pastor.
The members of the Finance Council shall have full and complete access to all records and documents relating to the financial status and operations of the parish and school except for those specific items that are of a confidential nature such as individual contributions and individual employee compensation. Those matters shall be reported in a manner that preserves confidentiality but allows the Finance Council to have a full understanding of parish and school financial matters. Requests to the staff of the school or parish for particular information or records should be overseen by the chairperson, and staff should be given reasonable time to provide the information requested.
The council consists of the Pastor, the Business Manager, and the School Principal (ex officio members), volunteer parishioners appointed by the Pastor and a Holy Family School Board Representative (ex officio member).
HOLY FAMILY CHURCH
FINANCE COUNCIL MEMBERS 22-23
David King (Chair)
Anne Zwart (Co-Chair)
Fr. Albert Bahhuth – Pastor
Fr. Andrew Hedstrom – Associate Pastor
Jennifer Garzia – Principal
Jane Lee – Business Manager
Carol Joe – Accountant
Peter Ferris – School Finance Board
Vernon Quiogue – School Bookkeeper
Theresa Shaw – Data Processing
Norms for Parish Finance Councils, Approved by the Council of Priests 2022