Suspension of most public Masses in archdiocese through Easter

| April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

Public Masses with distribution of the Eucharist will be suspended in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at least through Easter Sunday and the seven days that follow, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in an April 1 memo to priests and deacons.

Holy Week, Easter Sunday and all Masses through April 19 can be celebrated without congregations and transmitted via television or the internet, the archbishop said. Suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass also continues until further notice.

Public Masses may be celebrated outdoors in some circumstances, provided the congregation remains in their vehicles with windows rolled up and Communion is distributed only to those serving at that liturgy (deacon, lector, cantor, etc.), the archbishop said. Centers for Disease Control requirements for social distancing must be met, and pastors must first clear their plans with local authorities and Father Tom Margevicius, director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.

And parishioners should be instructed about the value of participating in Mass even when they cannot receive holy Communion, the archbishop said.

On Palm Sunday, April 5, priests also may bless and distribute Palm Sunday palms provided the palms are handled safely and CDC requirements are followed for social distancing.

The Easter Vigil Mass is traditionally when catechumens and candidates preparing for full initiation into the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults receive the sacraments. With public Masses canceled for the Easter Vigil, people preparing for baptism, first Communion or confirmation can arrange with their pastors the best dates for those rites of initiation, the archbishop said. Some could be held at the Easter Vigil, if social distancing and other requirements of health officials are met, he said. Plans for larger gatherings can be rescheduled, perhaps for Pentecost, he said.

Priests are encouraged to continue to celebrate Mass daily for the needs of the faithful, and livestream or televise it where possible. To the extent possible, already accepted Mass intentions are to be celebrated on the scheduled day of the livestreamed liturgy.

Public Masses have been suspended in the archdiocese since March 18 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Tim Walz is asking people to stay home except for grocery shopping and meeting other immediate needs. Gatherings of more than 10 people are discouraged.

The archdiocese is offering a virtual Holy Week retreat that begins Palm Sunday, April 5, and runs through Easter Vigil Mass April 11. It includes Mass or morning prayer each morning and evening talks that include Archbishop Hebda April 5 and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens April 8. All events will be livestreamed or recorded and available at archspm.org/holyweekretreat.

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