Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bad economy is hurting the collection plate

From the Houston Chronicle-

For weeks now, Matt McCarron has been unable to muster the strength to go to Sunday Mass.
A lifelong Catholic, he’s often found solace in prayer. And though young, he tries to give faithfully for the needs of the church, $20 a week when he was employed full time.

McCarron, 19, lost his job as a machinist last month and is back at the Milwaukee-area pizza joint where he worked in high school. He moved in with his parents to save money.

“I just feel let down,” said McCarron, who’d prayed that God would spare his job and is embarrassed that he can’t support the church the way he’d like. “I’m not sure I can afford even $5. I hate that feeling.”

Like McCarron, many people of faith are struggling, spiritually and financially, as the economy continues to unravel.

Across the religious spectrum, many congregations and faith organizations say giving is flat or down, at a time when the need for services, from food and clothing pantries to housing assistance and spiritual counseling, is skyrocketing.

Few are immune.

“I’m sure the hardest hit are in the central city, but it doesn’t exempt us at all,” said Father John Yockey of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Oconomowoc, Wis., where a drop in weekly donations has left the church $65,000 in the red.

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