The Cost of Catholic Parishes and Schools

Harris, Joseph C. The Cost of Catholic Parishes and Schools. Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward, 1996.

Harris examines Catholic contribution patterns and operating costs associated with parishes and schools. Using data collected from 3,600 parishes, Harris drew a sample of 274 parishes, representing 330,000 Catholic households. Harris found that overall household contributions in the Sunday collection grew modestly from 1991 to 1993. One- third of the parishes with giving declines also experienced population declines. However, parishes with membership declines frequently saw the average household contribution rise significantly. Giving is skewed with one-quarter of the households giving three-quarters of the income. Parishes which had schools tended to be much larger than parishes without schools but their average per- household giving was only modestly higher. School support provided by parishes has shrunk relative to overall costs. Harris disputes the existence of a crisis in Catholic giving and argues that Catholic giving readily could be improved. He contends that parishioner attitudes and religious convictions, not parish locale, size, or the presence of a school, affect Catholic giving. (SM)