Diocesan Policies Regarding Coronavirus

I invite diocesan directors of worship to share here the policies in place in their dioceses.  Pray Tell shares these policies as a public service and to provide a forum for discussion.  Pray Tell does not guarantee that all policies posted here are in all respects in conformity with the liturgical law of the Catholic Church.


    1. With the list growing constantly (I can see a few not listed), you have to wonder which diocese will be the last!

  1. I write as a former diocesan worship office staff member. As the number of dioceses suspending all Holy Week and Easter masses will continue to grow, I can’t but help think of an odd little theological insight arising from all this. While many parishes are understandably recording and/or streaming liturgies, consider the implications of people throughout a diocese viewing a holy week liturgy presider over by the bishop (at the cathedral) We just don’t get the reality that the diocese is the local church; the parish is simply where it is experienced. As the majority of dioceses have/are/will go through a period of restructuring and reorganizing, folks need to look beyond their own parish boundaries. I think encouraging people to participate via television/computer in diocesan liturgies can reinforce (or simply introduce) this concept as diocese as local church. But I also think it is important for parishes to offer their own prayer for their parishioners.

  2. From the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

    Today [17 March], the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez has suspended all public Masses in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia effective at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18th and until further notice.
    . . . .
    Though public Masses are suspended in all churches in the Archdiocese, the right and need of the faithful to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Sacraments is not put aside. Pastors, along with all those who work with them, will be as attentive as possible to all the spiritual, pastoral, and charitable needs of the people they serve.

    Priests will continue to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass during this period and to honor all requested Mass intentions.

    Churches can remain open as a location for private prayer at the discretion of the pastor. Baptisms, Confessions, Marriages, and Funerals will take place as usual but with due regard for the limitation of participants and reasonable social distancing.

    In conjunction with directives already in force in hospitals and institutions, all visits to the sick with Holy Communion, including in private homes, by priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are suspended. In such instances, only priests will be available to celebrate the Sacraments for those in immediate danger of death. In all circumstances, government and health agency directives for group size and social distancing are to be observed as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia strives to meet the pastoral and temporal needs of all those in need.

    On Sunday, March 15th, the Archdiocese featured a live streaming broadcast of the 11:00 a.m. Mass on its website and Archbishop Pérez’s Facebook page for the benefit of those wishing to participate in the liturgy remotely. This broadcast will continue each Sunday on an ongoing basis.

  3. From the Diocese of Camden, NJ
    [Statement of Bishop Dennis Sullivan 17 March]

    All public weekday and Sunday Masses be suspended until further notice. . . . .
    . . . .
    Baptism – the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism may take place as long as the attendance at each celebration is limited to fifty. This may require parishes to reschedule baptisms.
    Penance – since confessions are held individually, times may be scheduled as the pastor sees fit for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. Lenten Penance Services are to be cancelled.
    Confirmation – The diocese will work with individual parishes in regard to the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation during the month of March. In keeping with restrictions on the size of gatherings, the celebrations will be restricted to confirmandi, sponsors and parents.
    Anointing of the Sick – priests will continue to provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, but must take all necessary germ protection precautions in place at an individual’s home, nursing home or hospital.
    Marriage – pastors should discuss with couples whose weddings are scheduled in March and April. A wedding ceremony or Mass may be celebrated, but attendance should be restricted to no more than fifty persons.
    FUNERALS – funeral liturgies with or without Mass may be celebrated in the parishes of the Diocese with due regard to the Governor’s mandate to limit the gathering to no more than fifty persons.
    ADORATION – pastors may expose the Blessed Sacrament for a period of time each day so that the faithful may come, pray and unite themselves in spiritual communion with the Lord. However, a reminder about social distancing should also be posted.
    HOLY WEEK AND SACRED TRIDUUM – any decisions in regard to the celebration of Holy Week, the Chrism Mass and the Sacred Triduum will be made as we monitor the…

    Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
    In collaboration with local Bay Area officials, and in service to the common good of our communities and our country, the Diocese of Oakland is immediately putting into effect the following actions:
    All public Masses are suspended. Priests are receiving specific guidance from Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, regarding the celebration of sacraments, including baptisms, weddings and funerals.
    Information on online daily Masses can be found at https://www.oakdiocese.org/response-to-coronavirus-pandemic.
    Churches will remain open to provide a place of prayer and solace for people. Proper hygiene and social distancing will continue to be emphasized per CDC guidelines.
    All other events at parishes and schools are to be postponed, rescheduled or cancelled until further notice.
    All chancery employees are to remain at home during this period. They are being compensated as normal. Those who can work remotely are required to do so. Those whose job responsibilities do not allow them to work remotely are required to stay in communication with their team or supervisor. Parishes are strongly encourage to follow a similar approach with their employees.
    In issuing these new guidelines Bishop Michael Barber stated, “Our Lady, Health of the Sick, has always come to the aid of the Church in times of plague, pestilence and danger. Let us pray to her to intercede for us with her Son.”

  5. From the website of the Diocese of Crookston, MN


    Letter from Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner re: COVID-19 and Public Masses // March 18, 2020
    The following applies to all parishes, chapels and religious houses in the Diocese of Crookston effective March 20, 2020:
    -All public celebrations of the Holy Mass are cancelled (with the exception for funerals and weddings noted below). All Masses offered by priests are to be private, according to the Liturgical Norms and not open to the public. Pastors are reminded of their canonical obligation to offer Mass pro populo. I give my permission and encourage priests to pray, during a weekday of Lent each week, the Mass seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick (#44) from the collection of Masses in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and suggest that Saturday would be an appropriate day each week.
    -Sunday remains a holy day and, although dispensed from the obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sundays, the faithful are encouraged to observe the Lord’s Day by watching Mass online or on TV and by making a “spiritual communion.” For contact information go to http://www.crookston.org/covid19. Parishes that are able to livestream Mass are encouraged to do so.
    -There are to be no Communal Penance Services. Form 1 (Individual Celebration) of the Sacrament of Penance may be celebrated. Additional hours when the priest(s) are available may need to be offered. It is recommended that penitents make use of the screen in reconciliation rooms. The present circumstances do not constitute the grave necessity required for use of form 3 (General Absolution).
    -Baptisms, may be celebrated outside Mass with only the parents, godparents, and immediate family present and no more than 10 persons present.
    -Funerals and weddings with Mass may be celebrated with no more than 10 persons present.
    Church buildings should remain open, according to the local custom, for visits and personal prayer.

    1. (cont.)
      All gatherings, meetings, events of more than 10 people are to be cancelled for this time.
      The faithful are encouraged to continue attending Adoration, practicing “social distancing” and limiting the number of persons present to no more than 10 persons

  6. The Diocese of Rockville Centre [NY]

    DATE: March 17, 2020
    List of cancellations as of March 17, 2020 at 4 PM:

    1. Holy Mass. Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 at 3:00 PM, all Masses (weekday and weekend meetings, and non-essential activities in our parishes are suspended or postponed through Tuesday, April 14, 2020. This includes all Confirmations, First Communions, First Confessions, etc. When these events are rescheduled, they will be announced by local parishes. Funerals and weddings may be permitted if necessary, but should be limited to immediate family in attendance. Baptisms should be postponed unless absolutely necessary and should observe the same limits.

    2. Ordination of Bishop-elect Romero. The ordination previously schedule for April 16 has been postponed

  7. Diocese of St. Cloud [MN]

    Announcement by Bishop Donald Kettler
    . . .
    After much prayer and consultation with members of my staff, and in light of the latest recommendations from state and federal health authorities for slowing the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and protecting the people of our communities, I have made the difficult decision to suspend all public weekday and weekend Masses in the Diocese of Saint Cloud, effective immediately through Easter Monday, April 13. All Catholics in the diocese remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time.
    • I will celebrate the Chrism Mass privately with the deans. They will distribute the holy oils to the parishes in their deaneries at a later time. We hope to livestream the Mass on our diocesan Facebook page.
    • Baptisms should be rescheduled. If a wedding needs to take place, a dispensation needs to be granted by the bishop. Funeral Masses during this time are prohibited; only graveside services are allowed. A memorial Mass should be scheduled for a later date after April 13.
    • Confirmations during this time period remain cancelled. My office will contact parishes to reschedule.
    • All public Holy Week liturgies, including Good Friday services, are cancelled. For specific details regarding liturgies, pastors should consult the “Liturgical Guidelines During the Time of Suspension of Masses” provided by the diocesan Office of Worship.
    • Our churches will remain open for prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation on a schedule determined by the pastor. Social distancing should be encouraged — at least 6 feet between people in prayer and/or waiting to receive the sacrament.

    1. (cont.)
      • All parish events of 50 people or more should be cancelled, per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes parish breakfasts and fish fries; drive-through and pick-up options only are acceptable. People who are at a higher risk for contracting the illness — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — should avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
      • If any changes to this approach are warranted in the next few weeks, I will notify pastors.
      . . . .
      I encourage you — individually or as a family — to read and pray over the Sunday Scripture readings and watch our diocesan TV Mass. It is available online at http://worship.stcdio.org/tv-mass, where you will also find a list of channels on which it airs.

  8. Diocese of Winona-Rochester [MN]
    18 March Statement of Bishop John Quinn
    . . .
    Beginning Friday, March 20, 2020, in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, all public Sunday and weekday Masses will be suspended for the next eight weeks, through Friday, May 15, 2020. On or before that date, a decision will be made to continue or to lift the restriction on public Masses. The faithful of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester will continue to be dispensed from their Sunday obligation for the duration of time that public Masses are suspended. During this time, Perpetual Adoration will also be suspended.
    *Priests will continue to offer daily a private Mass for the intentions of their parishioners.
    *Churches may remain open for private prayer.
    *Sacramental ministry will be available for the Sacrament of Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and Viaticum, on an individual basis.
    *Funeral Masses, Baptisms, and Weddings will continue, but only a small number of immediate family members are to attend.
    . . .
    I encourage you to take advantage of the many Masses that are broadcast on radio and TV in English and in Spanish and unite yourself spiritually in deep communion with the Lord. You can find the full list on our diocesan website, http://www.dowr.org.

  9. Excerpt from 19 March statement of Archbishop Gregory Aymond, New Orleans [LA]
    I am calling for a Day of Prayer and Fasting on next Friday, March 27, 2020. Please spend additional time in prayer seeking God’s healing and compassion in this crisis. Also, we can fast from whatever we wish. Say to the Lord as we are hungry – I hunger for you more than I hunger for food, social media, spending time with others, etc.

  10. The Diocese of Orange [CA]


    GARDEN GROVE, CALIF., (March 17, 2020) – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Kevin Vann today announced that starting Tuesday, March 17, all daily and Sunday in-person Masses in the Diocese of Orange will be temporarily cancelled. However, churches will remain open for parishioners and others who wish to pray and seek spiritual assistance. All Catholics in the Diocese of Orange are dispensed from the obligation of attending Mass. A decision on when Masses will resume will be made in coordination with state and local public authorities.

    Parishioners will be able to view Sunday Masses via livestream at Facebook.com/ChristCathedralCA in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Christ Cathedral has plans to livestream daily Mass in English at 6:30 a.m. and Vietnamese 5:30 p.m. St. Edward the Confessor will livestream its 8:15 a.m. morning Mass from Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday at http://stedward.com/stedcast/.

    This prudent step Bishop Vann is taking today is in helping to stop the virus from spreading and one more step in keeping OC Catholics healthy.

    “I have grown deeply troubled by the rapid spread of the COVID0-19 pandemic,” said Bishop Vann.
    “While the doors of the church are always open and will never close for individual visits and devotions such as the Rosary and visits to the Blessed Sacrament, I encourage parishioners to follow the protocols communicated by the health professionals.”

    On March 12, Bishop Vann announced steps to reduce attendance at individual services to less than 250 people and to make Mass simpler and shorter. He dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the ill and those wanting to avoid crowds.

    We wrote our initial pandemic policy in 2006; updating it after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. We updated it again in anticipation of COVID-19 and in light of updates that the CDC made to its approach in 2017. We will update it again in light of this “real world” test. I currently host 3 webpages on our dicoesan website dedicated to the pandemic.

    The first is our “flu” page – the general information page related to our policy and its implementation. Usually, we’re just dealing with seasonal flu…. The second is a Q&A page that we added as parishes lived into the policy, figuring that if one person asked others also had the same question. Finally, we’ve created a page with spiritual resources–of our own creation as well as links to others.

    Policies and Practices: https://www.davenportdiocese.org/flu

    Q&A: https://www.davenportdiocese.org/qa

    Prayer and Support: https://www.davenportdiocese.org/prayer-and-support

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