COVID Mass attendance reinstated
Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ at Holy Family Parish,
Last week, we received the news that the dispensation to attend weekend Mass will be rescinded as of August 15 across Pennsylvania (see the Diocesan statement below). In light of that, we’re looking for ways to welcome folks back to church for our weekend Masses. We will have three outdoor Masses (weather permitting) over the next several weeks – August 15, 11 AM at St. Januarius, August 29, 11 AM at St. Irenaeus, and September 5, 11:30 AM at St. John the Baptist. We are looking for other ways to welcome folks. If you have a suggestion, please let me or our parish staff know. Because Mass attendance has already started to increase, we will be removing some of the ropes in the roped sections of our churches. We will remove the greeter tables and sign up sheets effective August 15. As of September, we are not permitted to offer Holy Communion distribution in the parking lots at St. Joseph, St. John and Our Lady of Joy. The tabernacles in the windows at St. John, St. Joseph and Our Lady of Joy will be removed also. For those who are ill, exposed to someone with a contagious disease or fearful of large groups at this time, you are still excused, but you should read the statement from our Diocese for further clarification and spiritual welfare. May our Blessed Mother watch over us as we make these transitions back to our sacred spaces.
In Christ's love,
Statement from Diocese of Pittsburgh - Bishop David A. Zubik is overjoyed to join all the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania in reinstating the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, starting August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Since public health restrictions have relaxed, “More and more people are returning to our churches to celebrate the sacraments and for other events that reflect who are as the Body of Christ,” Bishop Zubik said. “I thank God for their faith and for this opportunity to worship Him together, and to receive His healing grace in the Eucharist.
A statement from all Pennsylvania bishops said that, “Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout this very difficult period and is most especially near to us when we encounter him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers us his healing and peace, his mercy and reconciliation. It is time for everyone to return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy.”
Ordinarily, Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation, unless illness, disability, severe weather or another pressing circumstance prevents them from going. “Dispensations” may be issued in extraordinary situations, such as blizzards, to reinforce that people should not go to Mass when it is unsafe to do so. In March 2020, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the bishops issued the statewide dispensation that will lift on August 15.
“The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days comes from our Baptism as Christians. Baptism compels Christians to unite themselves with Christ at the altar in his saving Sacrifice of the Cross,” the Pennsylvania bishops wrote.
Bishop Zubik is encouraging parishes to continue live-streaming Mass. “Many, many shut-ins have come to appreciate such beautiful opportunities for them to be connected to the Church”, he said.
As always, people who are ill, who suspect that they may have been exposed to a contagious disease, have caregiver obligations or have serious anxiety about being in a large group at this time are not required to attend Mass. People who are ill or who may carry a contagious illness are strongly encouraged to stay home.
“Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, reading the Sacred Scriptures, and uniting themselves to Christ in his worship of the Father of us all. Those who are legitimately excused are also encouraged to view a broadcast of the Mass which is intended for those who cannot participate in person.”
Rev. Kevin G. Poecking
on Thursday, July 22 at 12:55PM