Catholic parishes in the Washington Archdiocese have been asked for a special donation to help meet part of the $1.9 million estimated total cost to the church and the city of next month's papal visit.

The city's cost for the visit Oct. 6 and 7 of Pope John Paul II could rise as high as $1.5 million, according to an estimate cited yesterday by Mayor Marion Barry during a meeting of his cabinet. Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson said at least one-third of that would go for police overtime.

The bill for the Washington Archdiocese, which will pay for the mass on the Mall, could come to $400,000, according to private contractors and government officials familiar with large gatherings.

To help defray the archdiocese's expenses, Cardinal William W. Baum, in a Sept. 1 letter, asked pastors of each parish to contribute $5 in parish funds for every family holding parish membership.

With more than 100,000 Catholic families in the 128 parishes in the archdiocese, which includes both the District and suburban Maryland, the request could raise more than $500,000.

In addition, officials in the Diocese of Arlington, which is separate, said a special collection will be taken there the weekend of the visit to help meet costs.

Church officials themselves have not yet been able to estimate their expenses. In his letter, Baum said only that the expenses "are a matter of great concern" and "will, of necessity, be quite notable."

Msgr. Raymond J. Boland, cochairman for the visit, said yesterday that architects, planners and contractors "are still estimating and turning in budgets. At this time, they just don't have it together."

According to George Berklacy, spokesman for the U.S. Park Service, the archdiocese is expected to pay for the three-tiered, 10,000-square-foot stage to be erected on the Mall for the pope's mass there, the massive floral arrangement around it, the sound system stretching for perhaps two miles up and down the Mall, about 3,000 rented chairs, a large but undetermined number of portable toilets and other miscellaneous expenses.

The archdiocese will not have to pay overtime for police and other federal and municipal employes working on the weekend. That bill will be paid by the government, as it is for any large demonstration.

The stage and its setting alone could cost more than $250,000, according to one of its designers.

Special furniture and furnishings for the altar are being provided, including the chalice and the papal chair, Boland said. "But they are being designed so that they can be used for years to come . . . so that they may be installed in the next new church that's built," he said.

Doug Hayes, of EDAW Inc., the landscaping firm handling floral arrangements, said yesterday that from 5,000 to 6,000 chrysanthemums are being sought to plant before the stage. They will cost at least $1 apiece, though adequate numbers of flowers at that price have yet to be found.

The archdiocese, Hayes said, is "very concerned about cost. That's one of the reasons we've been holding back. We probably could have ordered enough at a higher price, but we're trying to get them reduced."

Boland said the cardinal's request "is not a tax, it is a suggestion."

In his letter to the pastors, Baum said, "I do not wish to go directly to all the faithful even though I am convinced that they would readily respond. Rather I am asking you to consider a gift from parish funds in their name."

Boland said there would be no collection of any kind taken at the mass on the Mall, where crowds of as many as 1 million people are expected.

A cardinal's request for funds does not automatically produce 100 percent compliance, though there seems to be no lack of enthusiasm for the pope's visit. One churchman speculated that poor parishes, particularly those struggling to maintain a parochial school, would find the $5 per family contribution burdensome.

"That's a lot of money to take out of the parish on just the pastor's say-so," observed another priest.

"He's been invited here," Boland said of the pope. "He's our guest. We're going to see that we treat him properly . . . . We don't want to be cheap. This is the first time that a pope has come here. When that service (on the Mall) goes out on television, we want it to be appropriate." CAPTION: Picture, CARDINAL WILLIAM BAUM . . . asks $5 per family