Parish/School Bookkeeping Basics

close up photo of ledger s list

All bookkeeping must be completed on a Modified Cash Basis:

  • Receipts are recorded when the deposit is made to the bank, All deposits are recorded to Receipt Accts (3000). Deposits are not recorded to expense accounts (4000).
  • Expenses are recorded when the disbursement is made or the invoice is paid, All disbursements/paid invoices are recorded to Expense accounts (4000). Disbursements/paid invoices are not recorded to Receipt accounts (3000).
  • Some exceptions:
    • Tuition and fees (school/faith formation) paid in advance of the fiscal year should be recorded to liability account(s).
    • Funds Held in Trust: assets retained in the assets, but for a specific purpose, these will be paid out eventually. (i.e.: special collections, UTR), established as a liability account.
    • Expenses and reimbursements between Parishes in the family.
  • Do NOT include:
    • Prepaid expenses
    • Accounts Receivable
    • Accounts Payable
    • Accruals/Reserves

Use of Liabilities for Funds Held in Trust:

UTR: Funds are received over a period of time from UTR for the Parish’s share. These are being held until enough funds are received in order to do a project. In this case, deposits are recorded to the UTR Liability account (2000s), using the cash receipt process in PDS Ledger.

When the funds are used, the disbursements/paid invoices process are used in PDS Ledger. This transaction is posted/distributed to an expense account(s) (4000s).

An Adjusting Journal Entry (AJE) is posted to reduce the liability and recognize the receipt. The AJE would be for the same amount(s) as the disbursement/paid invoice transaction(s).

In this example the AJE would be:

  • Debit: #2000 UTR Liability $XXXXX
  • Credit: # 3000 Approved Capital Campaign $XXXXX

Processing the activity in this manner, moves the activity through the income statement, recognizing both the receipt and the expense, with a net effect on overall surplus (deficit) of $0.

Special collections: Deposits made to the bank account from offertory for a specific required special collection are posted to the special collection liability account. When the disbursement is made to remit the funds, the special collection liability account balance should be remitted. Generating the paid invoice, the amount of the check is distributed to the applicable liability account.

If the Parish wants to round up or donate additional funds for this special collection, the additional donation is considered a parish expense, and the distribution would include the additional donation posted to an expense account (4000s).

In this example, the parish collected $57 for Peter Pence. The parish wants to round up the remittance to a total of $100. The invoice would be entered as:

  • Payee: Diocese of Buffalo, Amount: $100
  • Distribution:
    • Liability account- #2300 Peter’s Pence $57.00
    • Expense account – #4479.10 Donations $43.00

This distribution brings the liability balance to $0 and expenses the donation, recording this in the income statement.

Month-End Close Procedures

  • All Parishes should close the month in PDS Ledger after all the bank reconciliations have been completed for the month.
  • The Month-End Close Checklist and Review Procedures (dated 8/2021) should be used.
  • This process should be completed within 2-3 weeks after month end.
  • After the close process is completed, all Parishes MUST sync their PDS Ledger program with the Diocese.

Phase two parishes examine issues and solutions in family meetings

The middle of Chautauqua County used to have six independent parishes spread out along the lake. Due to the shortage of priests the six worship sites still stand, but now as part of three parishes having only two pastors. Each site can only have one Sunday Mass. 

This is an example of the need for the Road for Renewal plan.

Family 5 includes St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Bemus Point and Mayville; Christ our Hope in Sherman and Clymer; and St. Dominic in Westfield and Brocton Parishes.

Those three parishes will become one family as part of Phase 2 of the Road to Renewal. Jim Wehrfritz is one of two Renewal representatives for St. Mary of Lourdes Parish. He represents the Bemus Point worship site, while Ann Akin reps for the Mayville site. They are the lay representatives that bring information about the Renewal into the parish through meetings and parish bulletin announcements.

They also led the Disciple Maker Survey earlier this year, which received a high level of participation in the parish.

“That was very successful. We got over 130 people to participate in the survey and we got some really good, I think, statistically valid results. We completed the analysis of that for our parish,” Wehrfritz said.

The family will take part in the Catholic Leadership Institute “to see what the similarities and differences are coming out of the survey.” The CLI program provides bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay persons with pastoral leadership formation and consulting services that strengthen their confidence and competence in ministry, enabling them to articulate a vision for their local church.

As a 35-year employee for ExxonMobil, Wehrfritz has had experience in reorganizing and learning from pilot programs. He also sees a need for it, especially in his area of the diocese.

When the parish family members first met, they found that some of the ministries, such as Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus, are in only one parish in the family, and now will be accessible to everyone in the family.

“(The Renewal is) really a good thing,” Wehrfritz said. “As we come together as a family, I think our parishioners are going to have more opportunities to participate in more ways.”

They are examining ways to work around the obstacles the new family format may bring. One issue that concerns them is travel between parishes. Some elderly parishioners may not be able to drive 20 miles in the snow to attend an event or meeting in a far-off church. The survey showed that most parishioners tend to be seniors. “That’s a specific challenge that we’ll have to figure out, but it’s fixable,” said Wehrfritz.

Wehrfritz admits there is some skepticism in his parish about what the final changes will be. He was not living in Western New York during the Journey of Faith and Grace, when St. Mary’s worship sites merged into one parish, but has heard some stories from people unhappy with the results.

“There are some questions relative to what’s this really going to mean. Because I think there were some hard feelings about how some of that was done or how it came down. So, there is a little bit of skepticism and concern,” he said.

Wehrfritz, himself, is happy with the information he receives from the diocese. Although he admits it can be slow coming, but he has spoken with Sarah Osmanski and Deacon Greg Moran, and feels he could call Father Bryan Zielenieski in the Renewal office if necessary.

“All the information is not always flowing out as quickly as some of the questions that are raised in my mind, but I’ve always been able to get what I needed one way or another,” Wehrfritz said.

Barb Weingart, the parish representative from St. Dominic’s in Westfield and Brocton, sees a need for change in the parish structure.

 “I think we’re all OK with the concept,” she said. “We need to work together. We need to be a team. We need not to be selfish, and put our own needs first.”

The area recently lost Father Todd Remick when he moved to Jamestown after the death of Father Dennis Mende. Father David Tourville and Father Romulo Montero now cover six churches.

“They’ve had to adjust the Mass schedule. The guys are over worked but it’s gone well,” Weingart said.

Father Tourville has been pro-active and has talked about it. Barb and her husband, Don, have given a presentation regarding the Disciple Makers Index Survey.

“We have to be fair and we have to think of the priests. They can only do so much,” she said. “I think we all need to work together. We all need to give. We need to not be selfish with our needs. We need to think of other people. We need to be fair to other people.”

Glossary of Terms

Accountability: A person who accepts the ownership of the successful completion of a task(s) or the achievement of expected positive outcome(s). This person may delegate certain responsibilities to other parties, but still holds the accountability for the overall success of the project.


Accountability Meeting: Parish Administrators meet every other week to make sure the tasks of the 6 Pillar Groups are being carried out in the respective parishes.


Activation Phase: Parishes begin to work together developing a transition plan working to form parishes into a Family. Development of a Family Council (FC) and Family Action Plan are an important aspect of this phase. This phase lasts until Inauguration.


Business Manager: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Business Manager is a leadership role in support of the pastor’s responsibilities to Family. This position has the overall fiduciary responsibility for the management of the FoP business office. The FoP Business Manager, as the head of operations, works with the clergy, staff, and volunteers to see that the temporal gifts of the parishioners are prudently accounted for and used to carry out the mission of the Family.


Chaplain: A priest or deacon with a specialized ministry that provides ministerial leadership to a specific area of responsibility. (ie: Hospital, Catholic school)


Director of Discipleship: The Director of Discipleship within the Family of Parishes is a leadership role that has oversight responsibility and in some cases direct responsibility for Catholic Education and Faith Formation.


Director of Mission: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Director of Mission is a leadership role in support of the Church’s call to be missionary disciples. The person will establish and oversee all committees that will help to make a good parish into a vibrant community. This will incorporate the pillars of stewardship and OutReach/InReach.


Director of Worship and Music Ministry: The Director of Worship/Music Minister is a professional musician who holds specialized credentials in music and has a thorough understanding of Roman Catholic liturgy. This person of faith is responsible for the effective planning, coordination, and execution of worship within the liturgical celebrations of the parish. He or she is gifted with a vision of how a local Church can develop its potential to realize that the celebration of the Mass is the source and summit of all Catholic worship.


Disciple Maker Index: A tool used by Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) to assess parish strengths, challenges and areas of growth. This tool will help parishes develop their Family Action Plan.


Facilitator: A trained lay leader that assists at meetings within the Family during the Activation Phase.


Family Action Plan: A strategic plan for the Family that defines goals, strategies, expected outcomes and methodology for reaching a vibrant future with vitality and fiscal responsibility. The Family Action Plan will be strategic for short-term and long-term planning for the Family with clearly identified attainable outcomes.


Family Leadership Team: Family Leadership Teams assist and complement the pastor by adding their unique skillsets to help monitor current realities, create plans for betterment, and evaluate results. They act like executive committees—i.e., they are made up of individuals delegated to make decisions or execute specific responsibilities in the interests of the FoPs and can be made up of parish member trustees, lay leaders, lay ministers, priests, deacons but should not be dominated by clergy. It is recommended that the FLT meets at least once a month.


Inauguration Phase: The date in which a designated group of parishes begins functioning as a Family. This ends the activation phase for this particular Family of Parishes.


Initiation Phase: The phase when a Family of Parishes is informed of a specific activation start date. In the Initiation Phase, parishes begin the preliminary work to prepare for the Activation Phase.


Parochial Vicar: Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountabilities and assigned responsibilities within the Family.


Parochial Vicar with Specialized Ministry: Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountability that may be outside of the Family. Furthermore, this priest is also assigned to assist with scheduled liturgies within the Family.


Pastor: Leader of the Family of Parishes and Pastor of each Family member parish.


Pillars: There are 6 Church Pillars: Liturgy, Spiritual Life, Forming Disciples, OutReach / InReach, Stewardship & Administration. These are the 6 key areas of the Church that require constant planning, monitoring and evaluation within each Family of Parishes.


Pillar Group: A team of experts dedicated to working collaboratively to construct, monitor and evaluate the plan within each of the 6 Pillars that provide the foundation for the Family Action Plan.


Renewal Representatives: Those appointed by the Pastor/Administrator to represent the individual parishes in relaying information about the Renewal to the parish, and worked directly with Catholic Leadership Institute to be advocates for the Disciple Maker Index survey.


Responsibility: Person accepting control over something or someone, not always the person who holds the accountability for the completion of a task or certain positive outcome.


Transition Leader: Priests within the Pilot Program that have been identified to be the point person for communication with the Renewal office for their particular Family of Parishes. There is one transition leader per Family after Initiation.

Living as Missionary Disciples | November 15, 2022

Living as Missionary Disciples Newsletter

A practical newsletter with ideas, resources, special announcements, articles and more to help good parishes become a vibrant family of parishes.

November 15, 2022

Feast of Saint Albert the Great

Why become Catholic?

John Michael Talbot – recording artist and founder of the Franciscan Lay Community, Brothers and Sisters of Charity. A significant part of his conversion were the books given to him by those he respected: the Bible from his grandmother; the life of Francis of Assisi from a close friend; the writings of the early Church by a Franciscan mentor. He became Catholic is 1978. Share your spiritual books with others. (Taken from A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Hanley Duquin)

Missionary discipleship takes place within the context of evangelization and begins with an encounter with Christ.”

Living as Missionary Disciples (pg. 9)

Parish Idea: Tending the Seeds on the Road to Renewal (Practical Suggestions)

Promote the Bible.

  1. Establish Dec. 4 as Bible Sunday. Use this Sunday (or another Sunday) to encourage people to consider giving Bibles or Bible books as Christmas gifts. Display bibles and books that appeal to all ages. Have a typed sheet of stores, gift shops and websites where these products can be purchased. Don’t forget the American Bible Society and USCCB. Good translations are: New American Bible, New International Version, Good New.
  2. Starting now, challenge parishioners to read the bible The Bible in a Year.
  3. Begin to plan on offering Bible study or small groups based on scripture after the first of the year.
  4. Test your knowledge of the Infancy Narratives based on the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. One side of this sheet is taken from Luke’s Infancy Narratives (1-2:39). The other side is from Matthew’s Infancy Narratives (Chapter 1-2) Find ways to share this quiz with different groups. Refer to the scriptures to find the answers. (Careful! Some answers are tricky. Read the scriptures well. For example: Where did the 3 kings find Jesus? (Mt. 2:11) Where did Joseph come from? (Mt. 2:24).

Offer hope during the Holidays: Grief wears many faces. We grieve the death of a loved one, a pet, a loss of job, divorce, separation from children or grandchildren, a miscarriage, moving to an unfamiliar area, diminishment of health, and the list goes on. While we may think some losses are less painful than others they are dependent on the person experiencing the grief. As holidays approach emotional pain intensifies. We may wish we could go to sleep on Nov. 1 and wake up on January 1st. These feelings are all normal. Here are some positive things that you can do to prepare ourselves for the holiday. Share the richness of the Family of Parishes (FoP): For each Sunday of Advent ask some parishioners from one of the parishes (or 2 if your family is more than 4 parishes) to reflect on one of the themes of Advent: hope, peace, love and joy. For example – On the first Sunday of Advent, 10 people from parish A will finish this sentence: “A time I experienced hope was . . .” On the second Sunday, 10 people from parish B will finish this sentence: “ A time I experienced peace was . . .” Encourage them to be as personal as possible.

Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Everyday Evangelizing during the Holiday Season

  • Attend Mass on Thanksgiving Day
  • Pray with an advent wreath
  • Buy a gift for a needy family
  • Spend extra time in prayer
  • Display a nativity set
  • Spend some time serving others as a family (soup kitchen, food give-away, visit Nursing Home)
  • Send religious Christmas cards with religious stamps
  • Christmas letter – Refrain from writing how good your life has been, rather talk about how good God has been to you.

Do You Hear What I Hear? Program

In October we did a training session for 13 parishes to sponsor this Christmas event in their FoP. The following parishes have scheduled this event. Feel free to attend.

  • Family 6: St. George, West Falls. Sun. Dec. 4 at 2:00 pm.
  • Family 16: Ss. Peter and Paul, Williamsville. Tues. Nov. 29 at 6:30 pm.
  • Family 17: St. Stephen, Grand Island. Sat. Dec. 10 at 7:00 pm.
  • Family 31: Blessed Trinity, Buffalo, Sun. Dec. 4 at 2:00 pm.

Closing Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord, we thank you for the goodness of our people and for the spirit of justice that fills this nation. We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of the cities. We thank you for our work and our rest, for one another, and for our homes. Accept our thanksgiving on this day. We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (USCCB)

Closing Thanksgiving Wish

May your stuffing be tasty. May your turkey be plump. May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs! (author unknown)

Living as Missionary Disciples | December 6, 2022

Why become Catholic?
Malcolm Buggeridge was born on March 24, 1903, and raised with no religion. He was an author, editor and media personality. In 1967 he conducted a television interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was instrumental in his decision to convert to Catholicism in 1982. She showed him the power of love and how it can have an effect on the entire world. She encouraged him to become like a child in God’s hand. Show others the power of love. (Taken from A Century of Catholic Converts, Lorene Hanley Duquin)

How to Celebrate Advent and Christmas as a Catholic

I’ll be Home for Christmas!
In a few weeks a number of inactive and unchurched people will walk through the doors of your Church. The regular attendees are often less than excited as they grumble about the lack of parking spaces, someone taking their “seat”, the noise and confusion.

Prepare your congregation now! Recommit all of the parishioners to be “Missionary Disciples”. Sprinkle them with holy water and remind them that “By virtue of Baptism we become ‘missionary disciples,’ called to bring the Gospel to the world (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120). May Christmas be a point of encounter for all of us.

Some tips:
Be civil in the parking lot both coming and going.
Extend a warm welcome when seeing others.
Sit in the middle of the pew, encouraging others to join you.
Be sensitive to anyone who may not know what books to use, when to sit, stand, etc.
Introduce yourself after Mass.
Invite people to come back.
Welcome the latecomers and the babies crying.

Away in a Manger, No Crib for a Bed.
Over 89.3 million people have “no crib for their bed”. They have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. As we approach the new year, let us recommit ourselves to the two feet of social justice charitable acts and social change.

We Three Kings
In Matthew 2:22 we read: “On coming to the house, they (the 3 Kings) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” As people enter our houses this year may they too find Christ. On the feast of epiphany (the three kings), which is Friday, Jan. 6 take time to bless your house for 2023.

Other ideas:

Christmas Cards – Send religious Christmas cards with religious stamps.
Christmas letter – Don’t just fill it with news on how special your life has been this past year but remind everyone how special they are in the eyes of God. “For God so loved the world that he sent his Son.”
Decorations: Place lights in your windows as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world. Let people see your Christianity from the street.
Crèche: Give your nativity scene a place of honor in the home and gather around it to pray. Prayer for the blessing of the Crèche.
Learn about St. Nicholas (feast day Dec. 6)
Nicholas is an Advent saint. His job is to remind people of God’s generosity. God doesn’t just pass around toys or video games or aftershave. God gives the ultimate gift. God gave Jesus. Reflect on this dialogue between God and Santa (St. Nick).
Dec. 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this date we celebrate the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Ann. We know that 9 months from this date (Sept. 8 will be the birth of Mary). Attend Mass on this Holy Day of Obligation and pray for all women who are pregnant or hope to be.
Dec. 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary, under this title is the patroness of the Americas. Pray for justice for all of God’s children, especially those of Hispanic descent.
Feast of the Holy Family (Dec. 30)
Create a photo Christmas tree. Gather pictures from photo albums: children, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc. Mount pictures on various colors of heavy paper, punch hold, attach ribbon and tie around Christmas tree branch.
Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 8)
Celebrate your baptism. The Christmas season ends on this day.

Upcoming Event:

Inclusive Christmas Mass, Wednesday, December 28, 7:00 PM, St. Bernadette Parish, Orchard Park. They welcome families with special needs. The Mass will be interpreted in American Sign Language and will offer a shorter, less crowded worship setting allowing for freedom of movement as needed. The lighting will be dimmer, the music soothing and low-gluten hosts will be available. Questions may be directed to Sharon Urbaniak at 716-648-1720 ext. 3 or sharonu@saintbopny.org

Question: 

If your parish ever did Alpha, please contact Sr. Louise Alff at lalff2@buffalodiocese.org. Thank you.

Prayer for Christmas

Come, Lord our God, and surround our feast day table as we delight in this joyous season of Christmas. Gift us in this meal with the taste of happiness as we savor this coming together of family and friends. As sparkling stars and singing angels rejoiced at the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem, so may we take great joy in this our Christmas dinner celebration. May You, our God, bless it and us in Your holy name. — Edward Hays

Christmas Chuckle, Reflections, Wishes
I stopped believing in Santa Clause when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. (Shirley Temple)
Christmas is a time when you get homesick, even when you’re home. (Carol Nelson)
The person who does not have Christmas in the heart will never find it under the tree. (Roy L. Smith)
May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One who offers you peace. May you bring this peace into our world. (Joyce Rupp)