Hurricane Irene

Here in New York we are hunkering down for Hurricane Irene. It’s a most unusual situation for us. Mayor Bloomberg has decreed the evacuation of parts of the city. All subways and buses will stop running after noon on Saturday. Governor Cuomo announced that if the winds surpass 60 mph, the NY State Thruway and all bridges will close. Additional evacuations and closures are predicted throughout the metropolitan area.

In a press release posted on the website of the Archdiocese of New York, Archbishop Dolan sensibly urged caution. He stated that “Catholics take Sunday mass very seriously, but the Church never asks us to risk our health or safety to get to church on the Lord’s Day. Please be careful! Do not take any chance with your safety and health if things get dangerous.”

It looks like they will. At least one parish has announced the cancellation of its Masses on Sunday altogether, although Saturday evening Vigil Masses will still be celebrated.

In the diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop DiMarzio lifted the obligation to attend Mass in the areas of mandatory evacuation, emphasizing that the obligation stands wherever it seems reasonable to attend.

Farther to the north, the Archdiocese of Boston issued hurricane guidelines earlier in the week. They included what to do with the reserved sacrament and how to keep record books safe. This is interesting because it seems to have been inspired by lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

New York is home to a sizeable Jewish population. The storm will interfere with the Jewish Sabbath. Hurricane guidelines written by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, were distributed to Orthodox rabbis who are graduates of the school. They allow observant Jews to listen to the radio on the Sabbath, to stay home from religious services, and to suspend certain prohibitions where life and limb are endangered. He developed these guidelines while living in Florida, where hurricanes are frequent.

These are just a few samples. I’d invite you to add your own. There will no doubt be a lot of stories on the ground as the weekend unfolds. Please do keep in your prayers all those who will be affected by the storm.

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14 comments

  1. Bishop DiMarzio may think he is both emphasizing the importance of Mass and enforcing discipline, but such a nonsensical ruling undermines his authority.

  2. Once I began to use a walking stick for balance, it did not take a Bishop or Rabbi to decide that going to Church was incompatible with snow. It took only one episode of going to Church with wind and rain to decide that they too were incompatible with my new balancing act.

    The internet provides the Notre Dame Sunday Mass at 10:00 am Eastern time through Catholic TV for those who may be lucky enough to have electricity.

  3. I think the comments on Bishop DiMarzo are a bit unfair- he does say the obligation is lifted:

    “as well as for those areas where travel is considered dangerous due to weather conditions, age, or infirmity. The Sunday obligation remains in place for all those who can reasonably attend services this weekend.”

      1. I think Joshua is saying it was unfair to say that “Bishop DiMarzio lifted the obligation […] only in the areas of mandatory evacuation.” That’s not what DiMarzio said, nor is the headline to the DiMarzio announcement (which he probably didn’t write up himself) mention limiting the lifting of the obligation.

        PTB: In the diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop DiMarzio lifted the obligation to attend Mass, but only in the areas of mandatory evacuation. Seems a bit stern to limit it to the mandatory evacuation areas[.]

        DOB: BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO LIFTS OBLIGATION TO ATTEND MASS IN AREAS FACING MANDATORY EVACUATION.
        “[…] I urge the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn to use caution and prepare for this dangerous storm. It goes without saying that for those areas of the Diocese under mandatory evacuation, the obligation to attend Mass this Sunday has been lifted, as well as for those areas where travel is considered dangerous due to weather conditions, age, or infirmity. The Sunday obligation remains in place for all those who can reasonably attend services this weekend. Above all else, please exercise common sense and caution as we encounter the effects of Hurricane Irene. […]”

        The PTB summary doesn’t accurately represent DiMarzio’s announcement. I think that’s what Joshua was getting at.

  4. In the diocese of Providence, Bishop Tobin lifted the obligation to attend Mass tomorrow and Masses in low lying evacuated areas have been canceled.

  5. Many thanks to those who prayed for us! Thankfully, the storm was not as destructive as it could have been. The continuation of the storm farther north promises to be weaker still, so I think we can say the worst is over — except for those who have to clean up after floods!

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