The regulations regarding Mass offerings (Mass stipends), under Paragraph 31 of the Pastoral Handbook (Chapters 1 – 13: promulgated in 2017) of our Diocese, are hereby reiterated in order to facilitate priestly ministry and to promote the spiritual well-being of the faithful:
31.One Mass for each Mass offering
31.1 Priests are obliged to celebrate one Mass for each and every stipend offered and accepted ( cf. Canon 948).
31.2 Where a group of people, e.g., students or teachers in a school, colleagues working in an office, members of a lay group or association, etc. voluntarily request a Mass for the same specific intention or combine their various intentions into a “single” or “collective” intention, and individually contribute as they wish to the stipend, the obligation of the priest celebrant is satisfied by the offering of one Mass.
31.3 In accordance with a Decree of the Congregation for the Clergy on 22 February 1991, the Bishop grants permission for parish priests or chaplains, when freely and explicitly requested by the faithful, to offer a single Mass for a“collective” intention on Lunar New Year’s Eve, Lunar New Year Day, All Souls Day, Ching Ming Festival and Chung Yeung Festival. In these cases –
(a) The place and time for the celebration of each of those Masses must be made public.
(b) It is licit for the celebrant to keep the amount of the offering established by the Diocese ( cf Canon 950). Any amount exceeding this offering shall be consigned to the Bishop or Ordinary as specified in Canon 951 § 1, who will provide for its destination according to the ends established by law ( cf Canon 946).
31.4 On all other occasions, the principle of “one stipend one Mass” is to be adhered to. Exceptional circumstances which might call for the arrangement of a single Mass for a “collective” intention must be referred to the Bishop.
Furthermore, in accordance with the tradition and constant practice of the Church, and with a view to avoiding abuses, it is not appropriate for lay people to collect and accumulate Mass stipends like establishing a “foundation”, and to allocate the stipends to priests on various occasions during the year for Masses to be offered for the intentions (whether for the living or the dead) of the donors.