Church in Stoneham cancels Easter Masses due to increase in COVID-19 cases

STONEHAM, MASS. (WHDH) – A church in Stoneham has canceled all in-person Masses, including those on Easter through April 10, after four parish staffers and a deacon tested positive for the coronavirus.

Father Mario Orrigo of St. Patrick Parish on Central Street wrote in a letter to the church community Wednesday that he had been advised to suspend all gatherings and Masses for 10 days in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I do not make this decision lightly as it comes during the most sacred and meaningful time in the Church’s calendar, Easter,” he wrote. “My heart is broken by this news. Yet, as we consider how this sacrifice disrupts the plans all of us have made; I am struck by how it can help so many.”

Orrigo plans to live stream the Triduum and Mass for Easter.

“The popular thing to do is keep the parish open, absolutely. But the right thing to do when you have an uptick like this – is to protect everyone,” he said.

Concerns of viral spread now have churches across the state rethinking how to observe the holy week.

Sacred Heart & Our Lady’s in Newton is having parishioners make a reservation to attend Easter Mass.

“If there weren’t a reservation system and we were strategically seating people as they came in haphazardly, we wouldn’t be able to place as many people in the church,” pastoral associate Nick Frega said.

St. Anselm Church in Sudbury has held outdoor Mass in the parking lot since last summer, allowing churchgoers to pray and receive Holy Communion from the comfort of their cars.

“We have kids poking their heads out the sunroofs, waving at the priest as he’s saying mass,” Caroline Llwellyn said.

Last Easter, there were no in-person gatherings held in the Bay State.

“We’re doing everything possible to protect the common good, even knowing it will have an impact on people’s experience and we’ll be inviting and encouraging them to hang on it, its not that much longer – please God – we are close to being through this,” said Father Paul Soper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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