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.
Online giving for that weekend totaled about $800, he said, but Cattany stressed that the cathedral basilica is not funded like most other parishes in Denver.
Despite its large size, Cattany said the parish has only about 600 registered parishioners, many of whom are elderly or low-income. A large portion of each Sunday's congregation is made up of visitors, or what Cattany calls "Friends of the Cathedral" who attend on Sunday, but do not live in the area and are registered at other parishes.
For some other large parishes in the Denver area, the number of registered parishioners could range anywhere from 2,500 to over 6,000.
At the cathedral, "the populations here are very different," Cattany said.
The cathedral has remained open for Eucharistic adoration. The confession schedule will- for now- remain the same, Father Cattany said.
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.
"Despite the lack of liturgy, He's still there, and he wants to see them," Cattany said.
"The Blessed Mother's helped us before, and she's going to get us through this."
The cathedral's breakfast sandwich line for the homeless and the food pantry will continue to operate for the time being, he said. But the local chapter of St. Vincent DePaul, which typically provides about $5,000 worth of support per month to families in need, is "out of money."
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Catholics will likely help parishes first
Mario Enzler, program director for the Online Masters of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management at the Catholic University of America, told CNA he recommends to priests that a parish keep on hand enough money for at least one month of operations.
He said parish priests- many of whom are former students in his program- have been calling him asking for advice during the coronavirus crisis.
"Yes, cash flow will suffer...but as I told several priests, you'll be blown away by how your parishioners will become a force for unity," Enzler said.
He said he also recently spoke to a diocesan vicar general, who is concerned about the diocesan annual appeal. That's different, he said.
"Parishioners will, first and foremost, identify themselves as a member of a specific parish, rather than of a diocese," Enzler said.