By Mike LaCrosse

STONEHAM (CBS) – A COVID-19 outbreak at St. Patrick Parish has prompted the Stoneham church to cancel its in-person Easter services this weekend.

Rev. Mario Orrigo told WBZ-TV Thursday that five people have tested positive for the virus, including office staff and a deacon. He said all are now under quarantine.

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“It started with one secretary and started to spread. Immediately, we shut down,” said Orrigo. “So what’s right for my people is to protect them and it hurts us. I wrote all my homilies, I got everything ready for Easter, but again, I want to protect my parishioners and my people.”

No parishioners have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Very disappointed to hear that it’s been canceled,” said parishioner Jim Day.

Orrigo broke the news about canceling in-person Easter and Holy Week services to parishioners in a letter.

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“I think it’s very sad, but if people are sick,” said parishioner Maureen Mahoney.

Because of the outbreak, all masses are canceled through April 10 as a precaution. That includes Holy Thursday mass, Good Friday, Saturday’s Easter vigil and Easter Sunday mass.

“It really pains my heart to do this,” said Orrigo. “But again, there goes those leadership principles. You got to take charge from the front. So if I look at it, the popular thing to do would be to keep the parish open. Absolutely. The right thing to do, when you have an uptick like this, is to protect everyone.”

The parish will now livestream its services this week.

St. Patrick Parish does have a school connected to it, but Rev. Orrigo says it has not been impacted by the virus.

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The church says it will post updates on its website and social media accounts about when in-person masses can resume.

Mike LaCrosse