While dioceses across the country have canceled public Masses in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, many parishes are remaining open for prayer, Eucharistic adoration, and confession, and continuing charitable work in the community.
But some parishes, especially those serving poor communities, have already begun feeling a financial pinch as they lose access to in-person parish collections.
For Father Joseph Lajoie, pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Denver, dwindling cash flow during the coronavirus crisis constitutes a “potentially crippling, if not mortal, blow” to the parish.
Sacred Heart is one of the oldest parishes in the archdiocese, occupying a 140-year-old building. It is also one of the poorest, and its congregation is largely elderly and low-income.
The parish has no online giving portal, no electronic database of registered parishioners, and no way to communicate with the entire community electronically, except through social media.
Though many parishes keep reserves on hand— and Lajoie stressed that Sacred Heart does have some savings— the prospect of months without passing the basket has Lajoie worried about being able to pay his small staff, especially after the few weeks.
The financial implications of canceling Mass are not just affecting small parishes, either.
Father Ronald Cattany, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver, said over the first weekend after Masses were suspended, in-person donations at the cathedral were down about 75% from a typical weekend. What did come came from those going to confession at the cathedral, or stopping to pray.
The priest said the cathedral canceled its entire order of palms for Palm Sunday, and he fears that the palm supplier may go out of business. Still, he has been seeking to reassure parishioners that Jesus will be waiting for them in Eucharist when the pandemic ends.
“The Blessed Mother’s helped us before, and she’s going to get us through this.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.