AS a priest, Mgr Kevin Toomey, of Melbourne, says he handles practically no money of .his own. But, he adds: "The stuff fascinates me just the same."
And he knows what to do with it when it comes his way. It has been coming his way at the rate of 500 dollars a day since, six weeks ago, he asked the one thousand families in his parish of St Anthony, in the Melbourne suburb of Glenhuntly, to lend him 21,000 dollars.
The money is being invested and the interest will go to pay for mission work and charities.
Mgr Toomey, 55, got his inspiration for his money-raising scheme from Psalm 14. which says: "He who takes no interest on a loan and accepts no bribes against the innocent will stand firm in the Lord forever."
"We place this money in real estate, government bonds and other investments at an average of about 1 f per cent interest," he says. "At the end of the year, we'll take the interest and use it to help missions in the Third World or even to support charitable organisations in Australia.
"Everybody benefits. Charities get a helping hand, the lender gets his money back after making a donation that cost him nothing, and idle money is set to work in the community."
This is Mgr Toomey's second financial venture.
In 1974, when he was parish priest of Surrey I tills, another Melbourne suburb, he founded Australia's only interest-free credit co-operative.
From money provided by parishioners, the co-operative lends other parishioners anything from one dollar to a thousand dollars at no interest.
The co-operative itself is run at almost no cost. It charges borrowers a fee of only one dollar per 100 dollars to cover the cost of office supplies and a telephone.
The co-operative has been especially helpful to young families wanting to go on a holiday they had never been able to afford, or to pay off pressing household debts.
Mgr Toomey was one of the principal organisers of the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress held in Melbourne in 1973.
Of his financial ventures. he says: "We are making the Bible live — and that is what we need."