Financial Guidelines for the Parishes of Galway Diocese

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 the faithful selected according to these norms’

(Canon 537)


Parish Finance Committee

The following are the norms governing Parish Finance Committees in the Diocese of Galway:

A.     Each Parish is to have one Finance Committee

Finance Committee Membership is to be as follows:

a.      Priests of the parish

b.      5-7 lay parishioners

c.       A chairperson and a secretary, preferable lay people, should be selected from the group. Lay people with financial and business background should be included, if possible.

d.      It is recommended that a lay representative of the Pastoral Council should be a member of the Finance Committee.


B.      Tenure:

a.      Members of the Finance Committee should be appointed for a four-year term. There is no limit to the number of terms a parishioner may serve. Change of membership should be on a phased basis to ensure stability.


C.      Terms of Reference:

a.      The Parish Priest is responsible to the Bishop and parishioners for the implementation of sound financial controls within the parish. At the Parish Priest’s discretion, he may or may not employ a member of the Finance Committee

b.      The key advisory role of the Parish Finance Committee is:

i.      To ensure maintenance of proper books of account and the implementation of effective internal financial controls.

ii.      Formal review of Parish accounts annually.

iii.      Preparation of annual parish budget.

iv.      The preparation of the Financial statement each year ending December 31st by parish accountant.

v.      The Finance Committee should discuss the final accounts and should formally recommend to the Parish Priest that he approve them & submit them to the Diocesan Office no later than April 30th of following year.

vi.      Give advice on outlays on maintenance and capital spending not exceeding €25,000 as amounts above this need diocesan approval. Amounts over €3000 & under €25,000 should be approved from the parish finance committee.

vii.      Ensure maintenance and insurance of parish property is implemented.

viii.      Approval & control of all fundraising activities carried out on properties directly under parish responsibility.


D.     Meetings

Meetings are to be held at least quarterly and follow a standard agenda. Minutes are to be kept recording the works of the committee. Discussion at meetings and the work of the committee is to be treated as confidential.


E.      Parish Finance & Administration

a.      If available and deemed necessary, a person experienced in keeping accounts either on a voluntary or paid basis could be engaged by the parish.

b.      The Parish Priest, supported by the Finance Committee, is responsible for ensuring effective financial controls are in place in relating to:

i.      Preparation of accounts for finance meetings

ii.      Control of lodgements

iii.      All payments

iv.      Maintenance of parish asset records

v.      Preparation and finalisation of annual budget & accounts.

(Under no circumstances, should the Parish Priest, other clergy or volunteer be solely involved in collecting, counting & lodging of parish income)


F.       Annual Audit

a.      The annual accounts should be audited/certified by a registered accountant/auditor. There should be only one set of accounts for the entire parish, including all bank accounts. These should be submitted to the diocesan office each year no later than April 30th. In the interest of efficiency, every effort should be made to keep the number of current accounts to a minimum.


G.     External Review

a.      Each year, the Diocesan Accountant undertakes a detailed review of several parish accounts. This is done is such a manner that every parish is reviewed over a 3-year period.

b.      When a Parish Priest is moved, parish procedures should be reviewed so that an effective hand-over takes place. A six-month financial report covering January-June should be available for the incoming priest.

c.       The Diocesan Finance Administrator and/or the Bishop may at any time instruct that an audit of any parish should be undertaken by an appointed accountant.


H.     Church Collections

a.      The Parish Finance Committee should appoint counting teams who on a rota basis count the church collections each week

i.      Formal bank lodgement slip(s) should be prepared by the team to record the amount counted in a separate Register

ii.      The Register should outline an analysis of income sources for accounting purposes.

iii.      The counting team should sign of on this & completed counted monies lodged.

iv.      Arrangements for lodgement should be to the satisfaction of the Parish Finance Committee & the Diocesan Finance Committee

v.      As routine, all church collections boxes should be emptied regularly by two members of the counting team.

vi.      A Register of Direct Debits & Standing Orders is to be maintained by the Parish Office. This is to be checked with bank statements on a regular basis to ensure all DD’s & SO income has been received.

vii.      All other monies, donations, or bequests received by the Parish Office are to be recorded & a receipt issued to the donor.


I.        Accounting Records

Every parish is to maintain proper accounting records. These form part of the official records of the parish. They are to be filed & available for successive Parish Priest’s along with other documentation such as contracts and details of capital expenditure, receipts and works carried out on parish assets.

J.        Staff & Clergy Payments

a.      The parish office is to prepare the payroll and it is to be approved by the Parish Priest. All payments to individuals are to be through the PAYE system.

b.      Employment contracts are to be issues to all staff.


K.      Non-Salary Payments

All payments are to be made with the following documentation:

a.      A formal payment request covering each payment

b.      A supplied invoice or receipt

c.       All cheques are to be signed by two of three designated individuals. One of the signatories is to be the Parish Priest

d.      The Parish Priest is to consult with the Parish Finance Committee on any outlays of capital expenditure or major repairs. The Diocese is to be consulted on any payments or outlays exceeding €25,000.

L.       Bank Accounts

All Parish Bank Accounts are to be in the name of the Parish, and not, under any circumstances to be in the name of individual clergy or the Parish Priest.

a.      All parish accounts are to be in the name of the parish.

b.      The Parish Priest is required as part of the Annual Diocesan Returns to formally certify all bank & deposit account balances together with all parish income are included in the Annual Returns.

c.       No Parish Bank Account is to be opened without the express authorisation of the Bishop.

d.      A quarterly bank reconciliation together with Bank Statements are to be presented to the Parish Finance Committee on a regular basis.


M.   Assets

Every parish is to have an Asset Register indicating all properties & assets owned by the Parish & held in trust on behalf of the Diocese

a.      The Register is to show details as follows:

i.      Property & assets description

ii.      Date acquired

iii.      Original value & location

iv.      Deeds, if held in case of properties

v.      Status of parish asset

b.      Any proposed work to be carried out on a parish asset requires the approval of Galway Diocesan Trustees.

NB: The Parish Priest & clergy do not have such authority as agents, nor the Parish Finance Committee, who are an advisory body to the Parish Priest to give approval for any proposed works to be carried out on property held in trust by Galway Diocesan Trustees

c.       The sale of any property requires the approval of Galway Diocesan Trustees.

d.      All parish assets are to be vested with Galway Diocesan Trustees


N.     Insurance

The Parish Priest supported by the Finance Committee is responsible for ensuring that Church property & assets are adequately insured.