Parish Finance Council Guidelines
In the Code of Canon Law, the Church requires each parish to organize a Finance
Council. In Canon 537, the Code offers the following instructions:
Each parish is to have a Finance council which is regulated by universal law as well as
by norms issued by the diocesan bishop; in this Council the Christian faithful, selected
according to the same norms, aid the pastor in the administration of parish goods with
due regard for the prescription of can. 532.
In keeping with the directives of the revised Code of Canon Law, the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Des Moines presents the following guidelines for the organization and
operation of a parish Finance Council.
1. As a standing council of the parish, the Finance Council shall offer its
technical skills in fiscal matters to the pastor and whomsoever he should
2. The Finance Council is to assist and advise the pastor with respect to the
supervision of all material goods belonging to the parish.
3. The Finance Council is to assist and advise the pastor concerning the
administration of parish goods within the limits of the Code of Canon Law
and applicable civil laws.
4. For acts of extraordinary administration (as defined by the diocese) the pastor
needs the consent of the Finance Council, the Pastoral Council, and the
1. The membership of the Council is to be comprised of no less than five (5)
members of the Christian faithful. The members should be truly skilled in
financial affairs as well as in civil laws and posses outstanding integrity. The
pastor shall appoint all members of the Finance Council.
2. The composition of the membership of the Council should be such as to
satisfy legal structure required by State law and Canonical structure required
by Church law.
At least one Lay Trustee of the Parish Corporate Board should be a member of
the Finance Council.
The Pastoral Council recommends two at large candidates to the Pastor for his
appointment as members of the Finance Council.
3. Members of the Parish Finance Council (excluding ex-officio) are to be
appointed for three (3) year terms with at least one member’s term expiring
each year. Thus, initially, one member would require a one (1) year
appointment; one member would require a two (2) year appointment; one
member would require a three (3) year appointment.
Following these initial appointments, succeeding members would be named to
three (3) year terms. Members may be re-appointed to other three-year terms.
A. Specific Duties
1. The Council shall meet on less than four (4) times a year or more frequently if
2. The Council shall assist the pastor, as the administrator of parish goods, in the
preparation each year, of a budget of the income and expenditures foreseen for
the operations of the entire parish in the coming year. This yearly budget of
income and expenditures will be reviewed by the Pastoral Council; then
reviewed and approved by the pastor prior to the beginning of each fiscal year.
3. The Council shall review the various Parish Income and Expense reports for
the total parish no less than twice a year.
4. The Council shall assist the Pastor in the preparation of an annual financial
report of income and expenditures covering all parish operations for
dissemination to the parish at-large.
5. The Council shall assist the pastor in assuring that the following fiscal
functions are performed:
- Timely payment of debt
- Timely payment of vendor invoices
- Timely interest payments
- Investment of surplus funds
- Assure adequate revenue through various means such as accepted tithing
programs, parish fund raisers and planned giving programs.
In some instances the Finance Council may wish to establish a development
subcommittee which would address the concerns of adequate revenue.
6. The Council shall assist the pastor in the coordination of the fiscal activities
with other parish organizations such as the Pastoral Council.
7. The Council shall review the long range planning objectives of the Parish as
they relate to the ability of the Parish to fund those goals and maintain fiscal
Planning in relation to Budget
Step 1: The role of the Pastoral Council is to work with the pastor and recommend to
him pastoral priorities, goals and objectives for the parish. This is more easily done when
long and short range planning is part of the ongoing work of the Pastoral Council. Goals
and objectives from the Board of Education and liturgy are given to the Pastoral Council
for their review and approval. Once approved, all goals and objectives are presented to
the pastor for his approval.
Step 2: The pastor, as administrator of the parish, takes the priorities, goals and
objectives and presents them to the parish finance council. The Finance Council projects
income, and following the recommendations of the pastor and/or parish staff, suggests
dollar amounts for each category of the budget.
If budget monies will be inadequate for all the goals and objectives, the Finance
Council will suggest financial alternatives for the Pastoral Council’s
consideration. If there will be excess monies, they likewise will recommend the
use of that money (e.g. payment on a long term bond or debt, investment for the
future, or share with persons or parishes who are less fortunate)
Step 3: The pastor, as administrator of the parish, takes the budget
recommendation of the Finance Council to the Pastoral Council for their review. Once
the Pastoral Council reviews the budget in light of their stated goals and objectives, they
may recommend implementation by the pastor or they may recommend the Finance
Council reconsider the allocation of resources in a different manner in light of the
priorities of the Pastoral Council. In cases of the latter recommendation, the pastor
convenes the Finance Council, adjustments are made or rationale is sufficiently
articulated to the Pastoral Council so that the Pastoral Council can then recommend the
budget for implementation.
The Pastoral Council annually (usually in November) begins to plan priorities, goals and
objective for the coming fiscal year (in accordance with their long-range plan). At this
time they review and evaluate implementation prior to establishing new priorities.
The Finance Council meets regularly to review the income and expenditures year to date.
If income is inadequate, they recommend to the Pastoral Council through the
pastor/administrator several options for cutting expenditures, or increasing revenue. The
Finance Council examines various procedures for boosting parish income (i.e.,
stewardship programs, memorials, etc.).