EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from mary on 09-13-2005:

Hello: Is it wrong for a priest to combine mass stipends; for example, if I have a mass said for a deceased loved one and the same mass is offered for 2 or 3 other people also, is this wrong? Is it supposed to be one stipend per one individual mass said? What is the distinction if I want a mass said for the deceased members of my parish as a whole? I hope this doesn't sound confusing. Thanks! mary

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 09-14-2005:

Keep in mind that the offerings attached to Mass intentions are part of the priest's ordinary income. However, the law is consistently clear that the priest can only accept the usual amount of one offering per day.

If the usual amount of a Mass offering is $10, and a priest receives two offerings of $5, he may combine the offerings as a single intention for one Mass, provided that the donors did not explicitly request to have a single Mass celebrated for the smaller amount (Congregation for Clergy, On Collective Mass Intentions, 1991).

If several intentions are combined into one and the usual offering is given for each one (e.g., five people give the usual $10 offering for one Mass), then some additional regulations apply: the place and time of the Mass are to be made public; the people making the offerings must be explicitly informed that it is a combined intention; and it cannot be done more than twice per week. In such a situation, the priest may only keep the usual amount ($10 in our example). The balance of the money ($40 in our example) would go to the cause predetermined by the diocesan bishop (or his vicar).