Update on Offertory Controls Initiative

The Archdiocese of Boston is pleased with the progress of its “Offertory Collection Controls Initiative,” advocated by Cardinal Seán O’Malley. To date, 215 or 74% of RCAB’s parishes have begun to implement the Secure Bag System. The initiative’s goal is simple—to employ consistent checks and balances within parishes to ensure that the collections entrusted to the Church by the Catholic faithful are properly safeguarded.

Central to the Secure Bag System is the serial-numbered, tamper-proof bag (Secure Bag), which allows the Parish to take control of the Offertory immediately upon collection. The serial number is tracked through each step of the process from the basket to the count table. Since the bags are tamper proof, their condition can be evaluated at each step in the process. 

To effectively implement the Secure Bag System, please download a printable copy of the 7-step process. This process should be established by each Parish and followed routinely:

  1. In preparation of weekend Masses, a Parish Staff member (typically the Business Manager) should assign a Secure Bag for each of the weekend collections, completing a Secure Bag Tracking Sheet of the Masses and respective assigned serial numbers. Mass time, date, and collection should be noted directly on the Secure Bag.
  2. The Offertory should be transferred from the collection basket to the Secure Bag by the Ushers, immediately after the collection process.
  3. At least two Ushers should sign the Secure Bag confirming they have witnessed the successful transfer and the sealing of the Secure Bag. In some RCAB parishes, the collection is brought to the altar as a part of the Offertory procession. In these instances, the Offertory should be safeguarded first in a Secure Bag, and then placed in a basket or other appropriate receptacle for transport to the altar.
  4. The Secure Bag should be placed immediately in a Safe until the count process begins. When the collection is part of the Offertory procession, it should be placed in a Safe as soon as possible and no later than at the conclusion of the Mass. Please see Guidelines for Safes below.
  5. To begin the count process, at least two individuals should retrieve the Secure Bag from the Safe.
  6. At the count table, the Counters should inspect the Secure Bag. See Guidelines for Inspecting Secure Bags below.
  7. A Parish Staff Member concludes the process by reviewing the Secure Bag Tracking Sheet to ensure it is complete, signs off as reviewer, staples it to the offertory count sheet, and files it.

With the completion of the prior 7-step process, the Counters can be assured that the Offertory collected at Mass has been transported intact from the basket to the count table.

Guidelines for Safes

  • A Drop Safe is recommended as the collection can be deposited immediately within it without the need for key access.
  • The Drop Safe should be large enough to accommodate a weekend of filled Secure Bags and its opening should be big enough to fit one filled Secure Bag.
  • Drop Safe prices range between $250-$750 depending on size.
  • The Safe should be secured to the ground.

Guidelines for Inspecting Secure Bags

  • Comparing the serial number to the Secure Bag Tracking Sheet (See Step 1)
  • Observing the signatures of at least two Ushers (See Step 3)
  • Ensuring that there has been no tampering of it.
  • Once the inspection has been completed, the Counters should sign the Secure Bag Tracking Sheet, and then the count can begin.

In the words of Cardinal O’Malley, implementing these guidelines “guarantees that the much-needed resources that people so generously make available will be safeguarded and used for the mission of the church.”

For additional information regarding implementation of the Secure Bag System, including ordering Secure Bags and purchasing a Safe, please contact Mary Frances Allen of the Financial Practices and Compliance Services (FinPAX) Team. Telephone: 617-746-5709
; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To see a video explaining the process, please go to: http://rcabrisk.org/offertory

For a copy of these steps in a PDF document you can download, please follow this link: Secure Bag System