St. Joseph Parish in Salem intended to separate the congregation at each Mass into the church and its school gym. But being the second largest parish in the Archdiocese, its leadership came to the decision that it was not prepared to realistically do everything necessary in just a few days. And so the leadership came to the decision to cancel Sunday Masses over the weekend of March 14 and 15.

“To be really honest, it is excruciatingly painful personally for me to make this decision, but I must admit the fact that the parish is far from being prepared for all of this, not to mention the very little time to comply with the directives,” wrote Father Paolo Dayto, parochial vicar at St. Joseph, on the parish’s Facebook page. “It truly breaks my heart. But, at the moment, your greater good, well-being, safety and welfare must be of my utmost priority more than anything else.”

Father Dayto said Masses would continue under the original plan the following week, having the time to adequately gather volunteers and resources needed to implement the parish’s Mass plan.