What is a Mass Intention?

From the very beginning of the Church, it has been customary for the faithful to offer gifts of bread and wine for the celebration of the Mass. Throughout the centuries, this developed into a monetary donation instead of bread and wine. Monies given in excess of the cost of actual bread and wine for the Mass were then applied to assist the poor and eventually the clergy.

Thus, it became customary for the priest to accept from the faithful a donation (formally called a “stipend”) in return for remembering a specific intention in the celebration of a Mass. Through this voluntary offering, the donor seeks spiritual benefits that God may bestow upon the persons or concerns that are specially held in prayer at the Mass. What is more, the Code of Canon Law (946) notes that the donor himself benefits: “Christ’s faithful who make an offering so that Mass can be celebrated for their intention contribute to the good of the Church, and by that offering they share in the Church’s concern for the support of its ministers and its activities.”

According to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Mass “is quite properly offered according to apostolic tradition not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions and other needs of the faithful who are living, but also for those who have died in Christ but are not yet fully purified” (Session XXII, Chapter 2).

Good Stewardship of Mass Intentions

The great faith of the parishioners of our TriParishes is quite evident in the number of Mass offerings we receive for the upkeep of our churches, and most especially, in memory of loved ones who have died. However, the volume of Mass intentions we receive far outweigh the number of Masses offered in our communities and there are certain rules by The Catholic Church governing the receipt of a stipend and the Mass to which it is applied.

To encourage orderly execution, good stewardship, and this pious practice, the pastor has established guidelines in accord with Diocesan Norms (located in the Pagella and Policies [PDF] of our diocese) and the Code of Canon Law.

The Mass Stipend Policy for The TriParishes


1.       Individual Mass stipends are $5.00.

2.       Any person may offer a Mass stipend for any pious intention:

a.       deceased family member(s) or friend(s);
b.       chronically ill persons;
c.       other intentions, aafter discussion with the pastor, (generally listed as “special intention.”)

3.       A Mass intention with a stipend can only be accepted on a year by year basis and will be accepted for any regularly scheduled weekday or Sunday Mass except:

a.       One Sunday Mass each weekend obliged by canon law to be offered for the parishioners as a whole; this Mass will rotate through the available Sunday Masses.

b.       Holy Day Masses sometimes have required and/or appropriate intentions which take precedence.

c.       Thursday morning Masses will be celebrated for “All The Deceased Members of our Parish.” This list includes all members of the parish or parishioner family members who have died within the last year, as well as those names added by request of parishioners through the use of All Souls Day envelopes or other requests.

d.       One Sunday Mass (4:00PM, 7:00AM, 9:00AM, 11:00AM in the respective parish) every other week will be kept “open,” that is, no advanced intention will be accepted. This is to allow for recently deceased during the course of the year to have Masses, or in case of a need to include an unexpected “emergency” intention, or to cover a “postponed” intention.

Nota Bene: When a stipend has been accepted for a Mass, and for some particular reason a priest is not in the parish to celebrate that Mass, a Mass for that intention will be celebrated as soon as possible.

4.       Because of the number of people requesting Masses, individuals are kindly asked to limit their initial requests to three (3) Masses per year. Generally, this would mean one Sunday Mass and two weekday Masses.

5.       Because Catholic Church law allows for “collective” or multiple Mass intentions as often as twice each week, the Mass on Tuesday mornings and Thursday (see 3c above) mornings are reserved for multiple intentions. This means that as many individuals as want may offer stipends for intentions to be included in these Masses. Each Mass will be offered for all of the requested intentions. In other words, rather than only one name or intention, there would be a list of names, as many as are received, for these Masses.

6.       Mass intentions, rather than being “announced” at the Mass, will simply be listed monthly in a church bulletin insert.

7.       Intentions and stipends for the coming year, January 1 to December 31, 2018, will be accepted beginning August 1, 2017 at the church office at 9:00AM. Acceptance of intentions will continue until all available Masses are filled. The end of available Masses will be announced in the parish bulletin. Sanctuary Lamp memorial donations/intentions, chapel candle donations, and missalette memorial donations will also be accepted at this time for the 2018 calendar year.

Please limit your sanctuary lamp donations to one per family per year.


This policy is an accord with the Code of Canon Law (1983) and The Pagella and Policies of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (2009).

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