The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still being felt financially for many businesses, but the faith community has also taken a big hit that could have a lasting impact.
Parishes in Massachusetts were forced to close their doors to worshipers for months, which meant the pause of daily collections and the cancellation of events in recreation halls that many parishes rent out.
Dioceses like Worcester and Boston say they are feeling the financial impact caused by those restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Many parishes rely almost entirely on collections to keep their doors open.
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A spokesperson for the Boston diocese said "as many as two-thirds of the current 280 parishes are collaborating with Archdiocesan leaders to find solutions to their cash shortfalls."
The pandemic has "resulted in more parishes actively considering the possibility of merging,” according to the spokesperson.
In Worcester, the diocese is surveying parishes to get a better understanding of how big the financial impact will be long term.
“There is a ripple effect because if the parish is going to be in crisis three months from now because it took such a big hit on its income, what are they going to be needing to stay alive?” asked Worcester Diocese Spokesman Raymond Delisle.
At the same time, the demand for services, including food pantries and other outreach, is up.
Catholic charities have had to distribute five times the amount of food to clients than before the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, the Boston archdiocese says it's working with parishes to try and prevent a situation where they are forced to close their doors because they can't afford to pay their bills.