MASSES – As you are aware, Bishop Sullivan has already dispensed the faithful from the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass. In accord with the Governor’s directive to limit gatherings to no more than fifty people, Bishop Sullivan now directs that all public weekday and Sunday Masses be suspended beginning no later than Wednesday, March 18, 2020 and until further notice. Public weekday Masses are not to be held even if attendance is fewer than fifty since, generally speaking, it is the older faithful who are most vulnerable who usually attend.
Since the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life, all priests in the Diocese of Camden must celebrate Mass privately for the good of the Christian faithful entrusted to their care and in satisfaction of the intentions of those who have made an offering for Mass.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS:
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 schedule several individual baptisms on a given Sunday.
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 – Father Rocks will reach out to each individual parish 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. Please wait for further instructions from the Bishop’s Office.
Anointing of the Sick – priests who are requested to provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick should do so with due consideration to the precautions in place at an individual’s home, nursing home or hospital. The celebration of the last Sacraments and Viaticum should take place as needed.
Marriage – pastors should discuss with couples whose weddings are scheduled in March and April. Great pastoral care needs to be taken as some venues may have already reached out to couples to impose restrictions or to cancel their receptions. 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. Every pastoral effort is to be made in communicating this to families at what is already a difficult time.
ADORATION – pastors are encouraged to 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. The hours of adoration should be posted at the Church and on the parish website. A reminder about social distancing should also be posted.
LENTEN SCRUTINIES – Bishop Sullivan hereby dispenses the Elect of the Diocese of Camden from the remaining scrutinies that are to be celebrated at Sunday Masses. A plan for the final preparation of the Elect for the Easter Sacraments needs to be made at parishes in case the restriction on the celebration of Mass is lifted before Easter. More information will be forthcoming.