A 167-year-old church in San Francisco is seeking financial support from the ward after its usual income has dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Old St. Mary’s Church, California’s oldest cathedral, has set up a GoFundMe in hopes the community will help make up for some of the income it lost, said Old St. Mary’s priest, Father John Ardis .

“We hope that GoFundMe will reach people and share them with their friends and family, and hopefully with people who love the service or the historical aspects of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral, which has served the ward since 1864,” said Ardis.

The church received approximately $ 3,500 in collections each weekend during its services, about half of which were from tourists, according to Ardis. That amount has dropped to about $ 1,000 on each of the eight weekends during the pandemic that could be opened for reduced services, he said.

The Church “faces the very real possibility of having to close its doors to the community and the world,” says GoFundMe’s description.

The church has also lost revenue from its preschool program, which it closed due to a decline in enrollment, and its bookstore. As a result of these financial losses, the church had to let go of two priests and lay off 20 employees.

The church will use the money raised by GoFundMe to pay for insurance costs and the archdiocese’s annual appeal, Ardis said. The Church owes $ 250,000 in insurance payments, according to GoFundMe.

Ardis said the church was originally built in 1854 but had to be rebuilt and reopened after the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. Due to the age of the building and insurance costs, the church was unable to address some much-needed maintenance issues, Ardis said.

During much of the pandemic, the church broadcast mass live on YouTube with readings in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, Ardis said. The weekend of February 20 was the second weekend that crowds of limited capacity could be held in person with required masks and social distancing.

“Ultimately, we look forward to the day when we can welcome back a large number of people,” said Ardis.

Bay Area NewsCoronavirusan Francisco News

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