March Diocesan Communicator

No. 3/2021

Note:  Please contact Sheila Wickenheiser at 800-562-9745 ext. 131 for questions/problems regarding receipt of the Diocesan Communicator.  The Communicator is available on the Diocesan website at


Office of the Chancellor and Divine Worship
The Parables Project

Department of Ministry Personnel
Prayer Requests & Health Updates

Department of Evangelization & Education
Spring Study Day
Spring Confirmations

Communication Services
Sacraments and RCIA Photos
Fratelli Tutti Materials Available

Financial Services
Amendment to CARES Act – Expanded & Extended Employee Retention Credit (ERC)
Resumption of Payments for Parishes and Schools
Parishes/Schools Eligible to Apply for PPP Forgiveness Now
Discontinuation of Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave
Flexible Spending Accounts & COVID-19 Relief
Bookkeeper Guidance on MCC Lay Employee Retirement Plan Credit Eligibility
Lifeworks/EAP Benefits
Annual Investment Pool Virtual Conference
Scholarships Available
St. Joseph Association (Good Shepherd Sunday) Collection
Collection Remittance Deadlines
Tamper Evident Bag Policy Changes

Department of Stewardship & Development
Legacy of Faith News
Stewardship E-News
Stewardship Resources for Parish Use

Bulletin Announcements
Pope Francis ‘Fratelli Tutti Quotes
What Makes for a Good Homily?

Addendum #1 – Spring Study Day Flyer
Addendum #2­ – Employee Retention Credit (ERC)
Addendum #3 - Employee Retention Credit (ERC) – Frequently Asked Questions
Addendum #4 – Frequently Asked Questions on PPP Loan Forgiveness
Addendum #5 – How to Respond to Traumatic Events
Addendum #6 – St. Joseph Association (Good Shepherd Sunday) Collection
Addendum #7 – Connover Packaging Instruction Sheet
Addendum #8 – Connover Packaging Printable Instruction Sheet
Addendum #9 - March 2021 Diocesan Communicator (old-style format)

3-15-2021        Bibianne Bessette Scholarship Submission Deadline (Administration & Finance)
4/24/2021        St. Joseph Association (Good Shepherd Sunday) Collection (Administration & Finance)
4/25/2021        St. Joseph Association (Good Shepherd Sunday) Collection (Administration & Finance)
Rev. Daniel Moll

Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology received a significant grant, awarded by the USCCB and the Catholic Biblical Association, to study the preaching of the parables.This research effort, called the Parables Project, will determine which homiletical practices best unpack the parables’ meanings and increase their connections to parishioners’ lives of faith.
One aspect of this study is a survey to gather the perspectives of clergy and laity on the nature and meaning of the parables.The two versions of the survey (one for clergy and the other for laity) can be found at Each takes about 15 minutes to complete.These surveys will be available until April 30, 2021.
They are seeking both clergy and laity responses. A parish bulletin and website announcement has been included in the Bulletin Section.
If you know of a priest, deacon, Women Religious or seminarian in need of prayers, please e-mail the information to Martha Tomasi, Department of Ministry Personnel,
Mark Salisbury
This annual event will be held virtually on Tuesday, March 23 using Zoom.  Our presenter this year is Everett Fritz, author of The Art of Forming Young Disciples.  He will speak to us about the how and why of small group discipleship.  There is no charge for this event!  Register now by clicking here.  A flyer for this event to be used as a bulletin insert can be found as Addendum #1. Please direct any questions to Denise Foye, or (906) 227-9130.

Confirmation Masses this spring will strictly follow the COVID-19 safety protocols. Consequently, more than one Mass in each vicariate will be celebrated. To ensure protocols are met, parishes with youth to be confirmed will be assigned a particular Mass for the conferral of the sacrament and attendance will be limited. 
The Diocesan Confirmation will be open to all adults, youth younger than grade 11 who have permission from the bishop to be confirmed, and youth from vicariates other than St. Peter Cathedral Vicariate, St. Mary Norway Vicariate, and Holy Name of Mary Vicariate.  
The dates are as follows:
Diocesan Confirmation
            St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette      3:30pm ET     April 18, 2021
St. Peter Cathedral Vicariate Confirmations
            St. Louis the King, Marquette        7:00 pm ET    April 16, 2021
            St. Joseph, Ishpeming                   1:30 pm ET    April 17, 2021
            St. Paul, Negaunee                         7:00 pm ET    April 17, 2021      
St. Mary Norway Vicariate Confirmations
            American Martyrs, Kingsford         1:00 pm CT   April 25, 2021
  St. Mary & St. Joseph, Iron Mtn.    4:30 pm CT   April 25, 2021
Holy Name of Mary Vicariate
  St. Joseph, Sault Ste. Marie           1:30 pm ET    May 2, 2021
  St. Gregory, Newberry                    6:00 pm ET   May 2, 2021                                   
Please use the Confirmation Application found on the diocesan website. ( You will need all the information found on the Candidate Application form to register the youth from your parish.  Register by clicking here.  If you have any questions please contact Denise Foye, or 906-227-9130.
John Fee 
Sacraments will publish soon. Please send photos of First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA groups for publication in The U.P. Catholic’s annual Sacraments and RCIA issue by June 18, 2021. Be sure to list names (left to right) front row, second row, third row, back row, etc. Photos may be sent by e-mail to or mailed to The U.P. Catholic, 1004 Harbor Hills Dr., Marquette, MI 49855.

The encyclical of Pope Francis on fraternity and social friendship, “Fratelli tutti,” according to Bishop John Doerfler, “shines a light on the path forward for humanity to help heal the bitter divisions that we see around the world.” To help bring that light to our diocese, Bishop Doerfler has written a series of five columns appearing in The U.P. Catholic newspaper beginning in December and continuing through April 2021.
The diocesan communications department has developed a webpage on the diocesan website at featuring all five columns, along with links to the full encyclical and additional materials. For parish use, a series of quotes from the pope may be found in the Bulletin Announcements section of this Communicator.
Tim Thomas

The enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020, amended the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  One of the major changes was the expansion and extension of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).  The ERC modification allows employers that received a PPP loan to retroactively claim the ERC for wages paid after March 12, 2020, but not for the wages used to obtain PPP loan forgiveness.
Up to this point, parishes/schools had the opportunity to take advantage of one of the Federal Programs for financial assistance, either a PPP loan or the ERC.  These recent changes, in addition to the second round of PPP loans, have now opened multiple paths for financial assistance from the Federal Government.  However, this opening brings with it much higher levels of complexity and potential scrutiny.  In order to navigate the ever-changing landscape of Federal assistance, and to avoid the potential pitfalls borne of possible Federal audits, an organization must have access to professional resources that are experts in their field.
The current ERC changes require the skills of qualified tax experts.  The Diocese of Marquette is not a professional tax organization and cannot assume that role on behalf of its parishes/schools.  Paycor is a national payroll provider, but it also cannot provide professional tax advice to its clients.  However, in recognizing the need for tax expertise, Paycor has partnered with HIREtech to provide such services.  You can find out more about the Paycor/HIREtech partnership, as well as the basics of the ERC in Addendum #2. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document is also available in Addendum #3, which includes details about how to take advantage of the partnership.
Given the complexities involved in these various programs, the skillset needed to successfully navigate the process, and the increased scrutiny that comes with receiving Federal funds, parishes/schools cannot afford to get this wrong.  If your parish/school chooses to pursue the ERC refund, the Diocese strongly recommends that you take advantage of this partnership, in order to maximize your ERC refund and to avoid any missteps in working with the various government programs.
Should you have any questions about the Diocese’s position on this topic, please feel free to contact your Parish Support Services Coordinator.  Specific questions about the program can be sent to Brian Locker ( at Paycor or Casey Banks (

In April 2020, Bishop John approved several measures to provide financial relief to parishes and schools caused by the closure of churches and schools due to the Covid-19 virus. This memo allowed for a six-month deferral of payments to the diocese for the following:
  • Needy parish/school loan payments
  • Hymnal payments
  • UPCSA parish payments
  • UP Catholic parish subscriptions 
  • Service agreement payments
  • Rent payments 
In October 2020, Bishop John extended the deferral of these payments indefinitely. Beginning April 1, 2021, all parishes and schools are to resume making the payments listed above. If a parish or school is not in a financial position to resume payments or has any other questions regarding the resumption of payments, please contact Tim Thomas at (906) 227-9114 or to discuss.

Parishes and schools were advised to wait to apply for PPP loan forgiveness in 2020 as lenders developed tools to make the application process more efficient. The Diocese now recommends parishes and schools contact their financial lending institutions to begin applying for PPP loan forgiveness in 2021. Please contact your lender for PPP loan forgiveness application requirements.
Please also find the attached form in Addendum #4 addressing frequently asked questions on PPP loan forgiveness.
Please contact Tim Thomas or Casey Banks if you have any questions regarding the PPP forgiveness process.

As of January 1, no employer is required to continue FFCRA leave—it is completely optional.  Only the payroll tax credit part of FFCRA is being continued, as an enticement to employers to continue it voluntarily.  
If it creates a financial hardship for your parish, you should not continue offering FFCRA leave. If you choose to no longer offer FFCRA leave, please notify staff (in writing) that you will no longer be offering it.  Parishes do not have to allege an exemption to stop offering FFCRA leave.  
Of course, COVID-19 absences will not go away.  If employers wish to discontinue offering FFCRA leave, Tim Thomas recommends that they put out a one-page memo to staff explaining that FFCRA leave was discontinued effective 1/1/2021 and reminding everyone of the regular sick leave policies.  Employers still have an obligation under the MIOSHA rules to ensure that employees with COVID-19 symptoms do NOT come to work and NOT return to work until the CDC quarantine period has passed or they otherwise get a doctor’s clearance.  Anyone without paid sick leave would take those days unpaid.

New Covid-19 relief legislation allowed Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) to make changes to Flexible Spending Accounts–both health care and dependent care.  The following changes will provide FSA participants more flexibility in using FSA contributions made in 2020 and on into the 2021 and 2022 plan years.
  • Extended Carry-over DollarsMCC is increasing the FSA carryover amount for the 2020 and 2021 plan years, with all FSA funds carrying over to the following plan year. Even if participants did not re-enroll in an MCC FSA for 2021, they could use the funds remaining in their FSA accounts from the prior year.  Unused balances from 2020 or 2021 plan years will roll-over to the following plan year after the claims run-out period ending March 31.
  • Post-Termination Spend-DownFSA participants who terminate employment or those who are no longer eligible due to a change in status may be reimbursed from the unused balance for claims incurred post-termination through the end of the plan year.  All qualifying reasons for the use of FSA funds continue.  
  • Dependent Care FSA Age LimitMCC is temporarily increasing the age for qualifying dependents from 13 to 14.
  • Participants who had a qualifying dependent who turned (or will turn) 13 during the 2020 or 2021 plan years may be able to use any unused funds from those plan years for qualifying expenses for that child until they turn 14. To qualify for this relief, enrollment in the DCFSA before January 31, 2020, is required.
  • FSA Election Changes for 2021For the 2021 plan year only, mid-year election changes are allowed for healthcare and dependent care FSAs.  This allows enrollment, disenrollment, and changing of election amounts with the need for a life event. Elections cannot be reduced to below amount year-to-date contributed or claims paid.
If you have general FSA questions and record election changes, please contact MCC Benefits at or by calling 800-395-5565. Please contact Health Equity for more information on FSA rules and changes at 866-346-5800.

Employees may be eligible to continue earning LERP Credited Service in 2020 and 2021. Please review the following administrative guidance from the Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan Pension Board to be sure you are updating your record accordingly.
  • Reduction of Hours
Employees who have had their scheduled hours temporarily reduced to less than 20 hours per week will remain eligible for the Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan, provided their hours will return to 20 or more per week prior to the end of 2021.

Employees who had their scheduled hours temporarily reduced to less than 20 hours per week in 2020 will remain eligible for the Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan, provided their hours returned to 20 or more per week before the end of 2020.  Employees will continue to earn Credited Service, and units will continue to be charged for Lay Retirement based on earnings. Do not reduce their Scheduled Hours on your payroll system.
Employees who have had their scheduled hours reduced below 20 hours per week permanently or beyond the end of 2020 will not be eligible for Lay Retirement.  Please update Scheduled Hours on your payroll system. The effective date of hours reduction must be included.
  • Lay-off/Furlough/Unpaid Leave of Absence
Employees normally eligible for Lay Retirement who have been temporarily laid-off (lay-off, furlough, or unpaid leave of absence) will remain eligible participants and continue to earn Credited Service. To be considered a temporary lay-off, there must be the intention to return the employee to work before by the end of 2021. If a decision is made in the future not to return an employee to active employment, their status should be “Terminated” effective the date of the decision not to bring them back to work.
Please be aware that the MCC benefit administration system interprets Leave or Lay-off as terminated.  Bookkeepers should leave the employee in Active status on your payroll system if the employee continues to be eligible for Lay Retirement per the above.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact the MCC Benefits Team at 800-395-5565.

As a reminder, clergy, religious, and lay employees (and any dependents) scheduled to work 20 or more hours a week are eligible to access MCC’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), called Lifeworks. LifeWorks provides resources to eligible staff on a range of wellbeing issues. Employees can access resources, including a continually updated COVID-19 toolbox, through The LifeWorks website, available from within Employee Self-Serve.
Lifeworks is also able to assist with traumatic events. Please see Addendum #5 with helpful tips for coping after a traumatic event and how to support those impacted by trauma.
We encourage employees to take advantage of the LifeWorks EAP program; it is a particularly valuable resource for employees’ professional and personal wellbeing. Should you have questions or would like additional information, please click here, contact LifeWorks at 888-456-1324, or reach out to the MCC Benefits Team at 800-395-5565.

Please mark your calendars now to attend the Annual Investment Pool Virtual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held on June 29, 2021 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. ET.  Additional registration details will be sent to all parishes in the coming months.

Looking for financial assistance with your college education?  Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Bibianne Bessette Scholarship Fund.  The scholarships aid graduating high school seniors who are pursuing a college or vocational education at an accredited degree-granting institution.  Consideration is based on academic achievement. 
Applicants must complete the online application found at, and send an Official Transcript and ACT/SAT scores (if applicable) via postal mail to Bessette Scholarship Fund, Diocese of Marquette, 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI  49855 or email transcripts to Irene McCauley. We understand that not all students will be taking the SAT and/or ACT in 2021. Applicants who will not take SAT or ACT exams may indicate this status on their application form to confirm their scholarship eligibility. Applications must be received no later than March 15, 2021. Please contact Irene McCauley with any questions on Bessette Scholarship requirements at 906-227-9135.

Make plans now to promote the annual Good Shepherd Collection scheduled to be taken up the weekend of April 24th/25th in all parishes. Materials to promote the collection can be found in Addendum #6 and were emailed to all pastors, associate pastors, and pastoral coordinators on March 8th, 2021. Please see the Bulletin Announcements section for announcements which can be placed in upcoming parish bulletins to promote this collection.

Several diocesan collections are held in the early part of the new year. Please be sure to mark collection remittance deadlines on your calendar to ensure parishioner donations are transferred to individual organizations promptly for maximum impact. Please contact Irene McCauley with questions regarding parish remittance deadlines. 
On February 14, parishes held the optional U.P. Catholic Newspaper collection. Parishes should retain the proceeds of this collection to offset the expense of providing the newspaper to their parishioners.  Please do not mail a check to the diocesan office for funds collected.
The Marquette Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection 2021 was held on February 17 (Ash Wednesday) or February 21 (first Sunday of Lent). Please remit funds to the Diocese by April 30, 2021.

Bishop Doerfler will promulgate a new policy in 2021 requiring all parishes to use tamper-evident collection bags to improve security for weekly and special collections. Parishes can expect more information on this policy in the coming months. For those parishes who have not already instituted procedures using tamper-evident collection bags, please contact the Diocese now to receive a one-year supply for your church.
If you are already using these bags and need to order more, please see the new order form in Addendum #7. Connover Packaging also redesigned the closure on its bags in the past year to improve the quality of tamper-evident containers. Please see Addendum #8 for a printable instruction sheet for first-time users or new collection volunteers. For more information or to get your initial supply contact Irene at
Terri Gadzinski

  1. Grants for parish Faith Formation programs are Due April 1st. Use the application at Grant focus is on Evangelization. In anticipation of the nation-wide Eucharistic Revival project that will unfold from 2021-2024, Legacy of Faith also welcomes proposals that promote a deepened understanding and a reinvigorated belief in the Eucharist.  For assistance, contact Angelina
  2. Nominations Open for 2021 Catholic Service Award. Parishes are encouraged to nominate a parishioner for the 2021 LOF Catholic Service Award. Deadline is May 1st. The award recognizes lifetime dedication and service to the Catholic Church and provides a $250 LOF grant for parish faith formation.  

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Click here to find dozens of stewardship resources for parish use on the Diocese of Marquette website. How may we help you?   
  • “Globalized society makes us neighbors, but it does not make us brothers and sisters.”
  • “The road we must travel is that of closeness; it is the culture of encounter.”
  • “Jesus asks us not to decide who is close enough to be our neighbor, but rather that we ourselves become neighbors to all.”
  • “The true worth of the different countries of our world is measured by their ability to think as part of the larger human family. God always gives freely.”
  • “Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns.”
  • “I ask God “to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion.” 
Your insights on this question is sought through a national study being undertaken by Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.  Funded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Biblical Association, this research effort focuses on the preaching of Jesus’ parables.  Help us gain new insights by going to and completing a 15-minute survey.  Thanks!
Diocese of Marquette ~ 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855-8851 ~ (906) 225-1141