March 18, 2020 — In a directive today, Father James B. Bissonette, diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth, announced additional temporary measures to help stem the spread of Covid-19.
In the new directive, all public Masses are suspended through April 20, effective Friday, March 20. (Priests may celebrate a private Mass without a congregation.) In addition, the diocese has cancelled all gatherings of more than 10 people and said that even in smaller gatherings, those vulnerable or showing any signs of illness should stay home, and all present should practice good hygiene and “social distancing” policies such as remaining six feet apart.
The document also contains guidance for Holy Week liturgies, as well as questions regarding first Communions, confirmations, and funerals.
Father Bissonette said that confessions and office hours should continue to made available on a regular basis, that churches should be open for an extended period each day so people could come individually and pray, and reiterated guidance for keeping Sundays holy when Mass is not available. He said the clergy and faithful should continue to visit and care for the sick, including through providing the sacraments.
"I do not take these temporary measures lightly and I strongly encourage you, the Faithful and the Clergy, to do the same," Father Bissonette wrote. "Let us pray that I will be able to lift them soon, that we will remain safe and well as we stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross during this crisis time, and that we will be able quickly to resume the public sharing of the Gospel and our Catholic faith."
He noted that the measures could extend beyond April 20, or should conditions improve more rapidly than expected, that they could be lifted at that time.
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