At the end of a devastating year of pandemic and with a new lockdown, the pastor of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral and Chinese Mission shared with parishioners a grim assessment with a call for Advent hope.

“Our beloved church is at the very edge of survival,” Paulist Father John Ardis, pastor of Old St. Mary’s, wrote in his appeal letter asking for supporters to summon “the resiliency and determination needed to help California’s oldest Cathedral survive these trying times.”

The parish has fallen deeply into debt amid the upheaval of 2020, and needs to raise at least $252,000 to cover its insurance payments for both 2020 and 2021.

Just as people came together to rebuild the church more than 100 years ago after its near destruction in the fires following the 1906 earthquake, Father Ardis hopes that people today can unite to keep the parish open.

“It’s amazing, the sacrifices that our ancestors have made to keep the faith alive and my hope is that we can keep the faith alive for those that come long after us,” he said.

The Chinatown parish has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and the following lockdowns. Until last March, its proximity to downtown made the old cathedral a stop for tourists and for workers in the area; the near total disappearance of both groups since then has badly starved the parish of operating income.

The parish preschool, which had 35 students last March, reopened with only five full-time students. Father Ardis suspended the school after it could no longer cover the salaries of its staff. The parish’s Catholic bookstore and gift shop, one of the few in the city, saw its income dry up like most of the neighboring stores in Chinatown.

Because of the loss of income and the looming insurance payments, the pastor has had to lay off much of the parish staff. Without someone to watch the church during the day, the parish doors have had to stay closed to private prayer….

Donate to the Light in the City campaign to help Old St. Mary’s.

The above comes from a Dec. 14 story in Catholic San Francisco.