Bishop Issues Directives Concerning Offertory Collections in Churches

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In anticipation of the return to public Masses in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown beginning the weekend of June 13-14, Bishop Mark issued the following directives regarding the offertory collections at parishes.  
 
At the present time and until further notice, there is no presentation of the gifts during any Mass. This means that there is no Offertory Procession when the gifts of bread and wine are presented following the offertory collection. 
 
The CDC and other experts have advised that handling collection baskets by multiple persons or ushers reaching across those seated in the pews pose a risk of exposure to COVID-19. Also, those who tabulate the Sunday collection and prepare the bank deposit should take additional precautions.
 
As a safeguard for parish ushers, money counters, and others, the following procedures should be observed.
 
Parishioners are urged to make contributions by using electronic payment which is a common means of transactions offered by most banks without any additional fees. This can be arranged as a recurring contribution.
 
Another method is to send to the parish by a check, which can be sent by mail or dropped at the parish office.
 
When people wish to make their contribution while in church, the usual method of “passing the basket” is not permitted. In-church collections will be taken as follows:

· Ushers will be available at all doors of the church before and at the end of Mass.
· The ushers will be holding a container and each parishioner can simply drop their contribution into the container as they enter or exit the church.
· In place of the usual collection “basket,” plastic containers should be used for this purpose. They are to be wiped/sanitized inside and outside after each use.
· The contributions made in the baskets before Mass will be emptied into a bag or heavy duty envelope that will be immediately sealed with tape. This method will prevent the ushers from touching anything directly. The sealed bag/envelope will be taken immediately to the location designated for tabulating the collection and preparing the bank deposit.
 
This method will be repeated at the end of Mass with ushers or other appointed persons will hold a basket at each door of the church to receive contributions as the people exit. When that is concluded, the money is emptied into the bag/envelope; sealed; and taken to location designated for tabulating the collection and preparing the bank deposit.
 
Whatever method is utilized to receive and process the offerings given by parishioners, the contributions will be accurately recorded and immediately deposited in the bank.
 
As a safeguard for the ushers and those who tabulate the collection and handle the money in preparing the deposit, each parish should provide for disposable gloves.
 
The pastor/parish administrator should delegate someone to oversee training and implementation of these procedures. Questions concerning these directives are to be brought to the attention of the Very Reverend Alan Thomas, Vicar General.