Newark, N.J., Mar 23, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Newark is working with GoFundMe Charity to encourage Catholics to support their parishes online during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many parishes have suffered a sharp drop in donations following the loss of in-person Sunday collections because of the suspension of public Masses.
To date, Catholics have raised more than $70,000 in response to the appeal.
“Together we will navigate unchartered waters, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Newark,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin in a statement published on Saturday, March 21, on the archdiocesan website.
“We are coordinating with the team at GoFundMe Charity to provide one online platform for the faithful to support continued outreach and the critical needs of their own parish communities and other parishes in need,” Tobin said.
The archdiocese is the first in the country to launch this type of online crowdfunding platform for its parishes, and Tobin said in his statement that he hopes others follow Newark’s lead.
The archdiocese made the decision to suspend the public celebration of Mass on March 18. Public Masses have now been suspended in every Latin rite diocese in the United States.
GoFundMe Charity is the charitable arm of GoFundMe, a crowdfunding platform. All donations made to parishes in the archdiocese through this platform are tax deductible, said Tobin.
At the archdiocesan campaign landing page, donors are able to select a specific parish to send their contribution, or donate to the “Parishes in Need Fund,” which will go to the parishes that are having the most trouble staying afloat amid the suspension of public Masses. As of press time, $71,032 has been made in donations.
Tobin announced that he will waive the ordinary archdiocesan assessment of donations in order to allow parishes to benefit directly from all funds raised.
“Our worship avoids becoming empty narcissism if it is based on a real love for God that is manifested in a love for our neighbors, especially those who suffer,” said Tobin.
The suspension of Masses has hit hardest for parishes not equipped for online giving, able to use electronic databases of parishioners, or who have congregations who are mostly lower-income or elderly. While some parishes do have savings, others do not and have had to make sacrifices to stay afloat, such as lower the heat of the parish building in order to avoid having to lay people off.
On Monday, March 23, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all residents of the state to remain in their homes in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.