March 20 2020
I hope you are well despite the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves. Please know that you and the entire diocesan community are in my prayers daily.
Earlier today I held a conference call with our regional vicars and deans to assess our situation across the diocese and answer questions they had from their respective deaneries. I will hold these each Friday.
As a result of today’s discussion I am issuing the following directives, which are in addition to those issued last Friday(3.13.2020) and on Monday(3.16.2020). At the crux of any decision is that we must abide by government mandates, avoiding any unnecessary physical contact and urging our faithful to remain home as much as possible.
HOLY WEEK & EASTER
It is increasingly unlikely that we will resume public Masses for Holy Week. We need to alert our parishioners to this sad reality.
Attached is guidance from the Vatican on commemorating Holy Week in light of the current situation.
1. Palms and Easter flowers – From a fiscal position you may try to cancel orders, BUT we should be mindful of the severe negative impact this may have on our faithful vendors who have already acquired and grown these items.
2. Palms – At the pastor/administrator’s discretion these may be blessed privately and distributed outside the church in a drive up manner during a designated time. Those distributing blessed palms should wear gloves and a mask, and avoid close contact with drivers- just close enough to handout palms.
3. RCIA – The rites of initiation will be held at a later date.
4. Catholic Communications is in contact with its broadcast partners about acquiring additional time on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to broadcast those services.
All spring confirmations will be moved to the fall, and First Communions likewise should be postponed.
In most cases these will be canceled because reception facilities will be closed. Nonetheless, you should reach out to couples to discuss their plans and to reschedule their wedding. If a couple still wants to receive the sacrament, then the wedding should follow local health guidelines with regard to attendance. The marriage will still require that the couple obtain a license from the civil authorities, unless a convalidation.
Funerals and burial rites should be held in accordance with all guidelines on crowd size. Consult local health departments and use your best judgement.
A few parishes have put the Blessed Sacrament inside a window where people can drive-up, view it and offer a prayer WITHOUT HAVING TO EXIT THEIR CAR.
A number of parishes are providing the Mass and other spiritual guidance via streaming video through their social media platforms and websites. This is a very good use of technology. Fr. Chris Malatesta has offered his church which is setup for live streaming and recording, for those parishes without that capability. Likewise Catholic Communications can assist you. Please contact either Fr. Chris or Mark Dupont to discuss. Attached to this email is a Prayer for Spiritual Communion which I would encourage you to use in any Mass you share and which I used on this week’s Chalice of Salvation.
Please join me in praying for all people during this time but especially for all those on the frontlines of this crisis, our police, fire, EMTs, nurses, doctors and all healthcare professionals, as well as those infected by the COVID-19 virus.