Crisis words like church closures, mass cancellations, quarantine, social distancing, sheltering in place, PPE, disinfectant, and face masks, are all a bit scary as they reflect our new norm of isolation and distancing to help people stay safe and flatten the COVID-19 curve. These new practices have profoundly impacted how our Catholic communities interact with their parishioners and how they offer support to those in need.
In this challenging environment, priests, staff, and lay leaders of the Diocese of Bridgeport have stepped up, harnessing technology and creativity to deliver services to the community. Masses are streamed online, and parish websites have added online giving options. Many of our parishes have implemented new ideas such as drive-thru confessions, Zoom bible studies, placing photos in church pews where families usually sit, virtual retreats, and parking lot prayers. Foundations in Faith honors our essential workers; our Priests are heroes and warriors.
The St. Francis Xavier Mission Church Fund of Foundations in Faith (SFX), has made a bold commitment by adding an additional $200,000 to support qualifying parishes in the Diocese that need help to meet their expenses during this time. As committee member Brian Young exclaimed, “This is not the time to step back, we need to be on the offensive and take action”. According to Young, “We are now looking to distribute up to a total of $400,000 to parishes in peril as a result of this pandemic.” The SFX Fund is working to ensure that COVID-19 does not incapacitate the future of our Parishes.
During the last ten days of April, ten grants were awarded for an expected distribution of close to $200,000 to parishes in need to help ensure their financial viability during this time. In many parishes weekly offertory collections have declined, even as parishes have moved to online giving platforms. Other parishes are relying on financial reserves to pay their ordinary bills. Foundations in Faith will continue to support those parishes and offer additional funds as needed as the pandemic continues.
“It is imperative that we step up. It would be a mistake to wait and see what happens as there is simply too much on the line. It is time to be bold and take action,” explains Andy Aoyama, Chairman of the Board for Foundations in Faith. “We miss our regular masses, our community, our sacraments, our Parish leaders, our Faith Formation groups, our choirs. The Churches are our extended family, our center that grounds us and suddenly that center was pulled out from beneath our feet. As we roll out the new approaches to celebrating mass we need to recognize that the Parish contributions will continue to be impacted”
Foundations in Faith will continue to provide grant assistance to Parishes as Phase Two of the SFX COVID-19 Emergency Funding rolls out in the first week of May. This money is a result of the We Stand with Christ campaign. We are grateful to the donors as this is a true lifeline for many parishes.
We cannot do this alone. Foundations in Faith is issuing a rally call. Please join our call to action by making a donation to the St. Francis Xavier COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Parishes by visiting www.foundationsinfaith.org. You will find a dropdown menu on the donate button to designate to this