First Masses were downsized, the Catholic churches and schools closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, church staffers are being laid off or seeing their pay cut. 

The Rev. James Achadinha of the Catholic Community of Gloucester and Rockport announced that his staff will have to undergo severe pay-cuts and lay-offs due to the lack of financial support from the Archidiocese of Boston.

As of Monday, March 30, Achadinha said he and the Rev. Ronald J. Gariboldi will not receive any salary during March and April and they will have to lay-off, furlough, or drastically reduce the hours or salaries of every member of their pastoral team and custodial staff.

"At this point, it is unclear whether these change will be permanent or temporary," Achadinha wrote in a letter to the members of the Catholic community.

Achadinha did not return the Times' calls or emails in time for publication.

"As we approach a third weekend without the celebration of public Masses, it is now clear that this situation will become a serious long-term financial problem for the Catholic Community of Gloucester and Rockport (Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish), along with almost every other parish and collaborative in the Archdiocese of Boston," Achadinha wrote.

The decision for drastic cuts in the local parishes came after the Archdiocese of Boston notified all pastors that it will not provide any parishes with any direct financial assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.

The archdiocese also advised parishes to make long-term financial plans and that staffing reductions might be necessary, according to the Catholic News Agency.

"Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed in the Archdiocese of Boston; and heartbroken for our dedicated and talented pastoral team," Achadinha wrote. "At this point, I simply do not know how to carry on without them."

Because the Archdiocese of Boston declines to participate in the unemployment compensation system, Achadinha explained no one on the Catholic Community of Gloucester and Rockport  staff will be eligible for unemployment insurance.

Some members of the parishes' team could benefit from the newly passed CARE Act, he clarified.

"But our financial peril is not just about salaries and benefits," Achadinha wrote. "It is also about utilities, property insurance, and basic cleaning, groundskeeping, and maintenance of our church buildings."

Both local parishes — Holy Family and Our Lady of Good Voyage — are now looking at the community for help to continue their mission.

"Now more than ever, your generous support for Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage is vitally important, not just to achieve some fundraising goal, but to help ensure the survival of our parishes after this crisis passes," he added. 

Donations can be made at https://ccgronline.churchgiving.com/ or https://ccgronlineolgv.churchgiving.com/

The current status of staff at Cape Ann's other Catholic parishes are unknown at this time.

The Rev. Paul Flammia of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church of Essex and Sacred Heart of Manchester-by-the-Sea did not return the Times' calls or emails in time for publication.

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com

Recommended for you