Courtesy of the Diocese of Lansing:
The importance of having a Finance Council in each parish is clearly stated in the Code of Canon Law. It reads:
In each parish there is to be a finance committee to help the parish priest in the administration of the goods of the parish . . . It is ruled by the universal law and by the norms laid down by the diocesan bishop, and it is comprised of members of Christ’s faithful selected according to these norms. Can. 537
It further explains that the existence of this committee does not detract from the parish priest’s standing as the one who acts in the name of the parish. However, such a committee provides the parish priest with valuable insight and advice, so that he may act more effectively in the interests of the parish.
Based on the ruling in Canon Law, the Diocese of Lansing has established the following norms for Finance Councils in each of the diocesan parishes.
1. Each parish of the Diocese of Lansing has a Finance Council. The name of the body is the parish finance council.
An active Parish finance council in each parish assists in administering the temporal goods of the parish.
2. The parish finance council is consultative in nature.
The Parish finance council possesses a consultative voice in administering parish finances. Budgets are to be prepared by the individuals who are responsible for expenditures in the specific areas. The role of the council is to review these budgets in total. When reductions are needed the council can recommend areas or guidelines for making changes. They are also to evaluate the reasonableness of the estimates used in projecting income and expenses.
The parish finance council receives direction as to parish priorities from the parish pastoral council.
3. The parish finance council has the two-fold responsibility to:
The pastor/pastoral coordinator convenes the parish finance council so that he/she can share with them the responsibility for the prudent administration of parish financial affairs. Together they assist in formulating policies and procedures for the effective management of parish assets. The council recommends short-term and long-range financial plans in conjunction with parish pastoral council planning. For financial actions requiring the bishop’s approval, the bishop will expect a signed resolution supporting the activity.
4. The parish finance council is appointed by the Pastor/Pastoral Coordinator with recommendations from the parish pastoral council. Not more than two persons may serve simultaneously on both the pastoral and finance councils.
The parish finance council is envisioned as a body of parishioners who possess the charisms essential for their task at hand. Among these desired charisms are:
These abilities are foundational for the work of the finance council so they can effectively pursue the basic mission of the parish to spread Christ’s gospel of love.
Other requirements for membership on the parish finance council include being:
The parish finance council requires a minimum of five (5) members in addition to the pastor/pastoral coordinator. If a parish employs a professional staff person as business manager, he/she should serve as an ex-officio member.
5. Definite terms are to be established for parish finance council membership.
It is recommended that a minimum of two or three years per term be specified. In any case, two consecutive terms are considered the maximum time to serve in this capacity.
6. Prayer is an integral part of parish finance council meetings.
Shared reflection and prayer are essential for council members to effectively fulfill their responsibilities. Given the responsibility of being good stewards, the finance council is expected to make the best recommendations concerning the use of resources compatible with the mission of the parish. Being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit will have a positive influence on the recommendations made by the council.
7. The parish finance council provides initial formation for new members and educational and spiritual growth opportunities for all members.
An orientation program allows new members to become familiar with the requirements of the council. They are to be assured that they are being appreciated for their contributions to the administration of the parish. A continuing program of study and experience, such as a day of reflection, deepens an understanding of the unity between the spiritual and the temporal.