The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers. - Canon Law 222
Consistent with the Mission Statement for the Secretariat for Planning and Financial Services, the vision of the Office of Parish Financial Assistance is to assist parishes to implement and maintain quality financial and internal controls consistent with good business practices within a church environment, and to promote sound parish financial planning and accountability.
History and Services
The Office of Parish Financial Assistance began in the early 1990’s in response to a need for an “Internal Audit” department within the Diocese of Providence. Canon 1254 § 1 and § 2, of Book V of Canon Law, which addresses the Temporal Goods of the Church states that “(§ 1) The Catholic Church has an innate right to acquire, retain, administer and alienate temporal goods in pursuit of its proper ends independently of civil power. (§ 2)The following ends are especially proper to the church: to order divine worship; to provide decent support for the clergy and other ministers; to perform the works of the sacred apostolate and charity, especially towards the needy.”
The Parish Business Analyst position of the Diocese of Providence was added to the Office of Parish Financial Assistance in 2008 in response to a need to closely monitor and provide specialized guidance to parishes facing more demanding financial challenges on a regular basis.
The Office of Parish Financial Assistance conducts both financial and internal control reviews of parishes within the Diocese of Providence. The objectives of these reviews are to provide parish management with recommendations to assist them in enhancing their present accounting, administrative, and operational controls and procedures, so that the objectives of Canon 1254 §2 are achieved.
The Office also provides accounting assistance to parishes, parish and diocesan schools, and parish cemeteries. Assistance includes guidance with budgeting, assisting in preparation of annual financial reports, financial planning, QuickBooks training, payroll, special financial analysis, establishing sound internal controls, and other accounting and financial related matters.
In addition to the services it provides to parishes, the Office of Parish Financial Assistance also performs the following:
Structure and Staffing
The Office of Parish Financial Assistance is one of ten offices which fall under the Secretariat for Planning and Financial Services of the Diocese of Providence. In addition to reporting to the Chief Financial Officer and Vicar for Planning and Financial Services, the Office of Parish Financial Assistance reports to the Accounting and Auditing Advisory Committee of the Diocese of Providence.
The office is available to assist parishes via telephone, email, live/remote internet access, and direct visit to the parish.