Something very unusual about Assumption Parish is that it has never used collection envelopes. Collection envelopes with the parishioner number on an upper corner were a deeply entrenched part of the Catholic landscape in our country for most of the twentieth century. Collection envelopes made recording donations simple and they also encouraged loyalty to one’s local parish. But our situation was different. For many decades Assumption had almost no resident parishioners. With fewer than ten people attending some of our Sunday Masses, the Sunday collection was only a small part of parish income. Support came primarily from special fundraisers, benefactors who sent contributions in the mail at Christmas and Easter, and from wills and bequests. New members who join now are often surprised that they will not be receiving envelopes, but quickly adjust to the fact that their contributions by check will be carefully recorded and credited.
As many of you know, though, check-writing is not what it used to be. More and more people are conducting more and more of their financial transactions electronically. Rather than carry cash or write out checks, they use debit cards or credit cards. Payments that used to be handled by a check in the mail are now handled by punching a few keys on a computer and the amount is transferred directly out of the bank account of the payer into the account of the receiver. Once people get started making payments this way they almost never go back to the routine of writing checks. Check books are sitting in desk drawers gathering dust. In the long run, if we at Assumption do not adjust to the electronic age, we will surely see our income begin to decline.
Assumption’s Finance Committee has been exploring the issue of electronic giving for some time. After investigating several firms that provide this service to Catholic churches, we made a decision to enter into an agreement with GiveCentral. GiveCentral was created by a local firm specifically for the Archdiocese of Chicago to give parishioners the option of making secure contributions electronically. We expect to have this operation up and going by February. Each household who chooses to participate will be able to go to a website and set up a giving profile, selecting when and how to make contributions. The menu on the website will include special collections and other fundraisers as well as the weekly offering.
What I hope everyone understands is that electronic giving is simply an option for those who prefer it. Those who are comfortable making donations in cash or checks will be under no pressure to convert to electronic giving. Also, there will be no registration deadline. At any time in the future you may decide to move to electronic giving; or, if you decide you do not like it, to opt out. In January we will have more detailed information for you; and on one weekend we will have representatives of the Finance Committee available after Mass to answer your questions or to help you set up your giving profile. For those who opt in, we will have cards available for you to place in the collection basket indicating that you are giving electronically. The physical act of giving at Mass is certainly important. The Magi, for example, made the harsh journey across the desert to present their gold to the Christ child and they remained to adore Him. It would not have been the same if they had just transferred the funds electronically.