Office of Prerparation | COVID-19 Update on 03/18

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Dear Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Principals, Campus Ministers, and Lay Leaders,

Today, we continue to keep in prayer all those who are affected by COVID-19 as well as those who are caring for them. In this season of Lent, we are reminded of our Lord’s desire to be close to us especially as we experience moments of change and transition. We are grateful for your continued leadership during this time.

What has happened to date?

  • A web page (www.richmonddiocese.org/coronavirus) is the central repository of the diocese’s response to the coronavirus. This web page is updated frequently and is your best resource for the most up to date information.
  • An email address ([email protected]) has been established for the Pastoral Center staff, clergy and laity across the diocese, to ask questions or share information about this evolving situation.

What updates happened today?

  • Bishop Knestout will livestream his private Sunday Mass at 10:00 am. Further details and log-in information can be viewed at www.richmonddiocese.org/livestream. Please share this information with your parishioners.
  • The Office of Worship has developed several resources to assist the clergy and the faithful as they continue to encounter Christ during this time. These resources will continue to be updated in the coming days and weeks and can be located here: www.cdrworship.org/coronavirus. Today, several important resources have been posted:
    • Guidance for priests to assist them in the celebration of a private Mass without the People.
    • Links to free versions of Give Us This Day and Magnificat.
    • Prayer Card and Guidance for Spiritual Communion (coming soon).
  • The Office of Human Resources has provided best practices for managers and employees to assist them in telecommuting and working from home. These documents are attached for your reference and use.
  • Out of an abundance of caution and care, Bishop Knestout has directed all Pastoral Center employees to telecommute through Friday, March 20, 2020. Pastoral Center employees are working a normal schedule and can be contacted through their phone or email. No visitors are permitted to the Pastoral Center at this time. Any questions can be directed to [email protected]
  • Based on the local public school system’s guidance, All Saints (Richmond), Blessed Sacrament (Powhatan), Charlottesville Catholic (Charlottesville), Our Lady of Lourdes (Richmond), Saint Benedict (Richmond), and Saint Bridget (Richmond), Saint Edward-Epiphany (Richmond), Saint Mary (Richmond) Catholic Schools will be closed through April 17, 2020. All other diocesan schools are closed through March 27, 2020.
  • Bishop Knestout has self-quarantined as a precaution. This information can be found on our website at www.richmonddiocese.org/bishop-barry-c-knestout-self-quarantines-as-a-precaution. Further updates will be shared as they are available.

Updates to the Emergency Preparedness Instructional Manual In addition to the information in the Emergency Preparedness Instructional Manual, the following clarifications will be made:

  • II. GUIDELINES FOR USE OF CHURCH BUILDINGS FOR PRIVATE PRAYER
    • Private Masses should be celebrated only with the priest present.
      • Concelebration may be done when the priests live in the same rectory.
      • Seminarians may serve or attend the Mass, if they live in the same rectory as the priest.
      • One Deacon may serve the Mass.
    • Otherwise, no members of the lay faithful should be present in any case or capacity except to assist with livestreaming of the Mass. In this instance, only one lay person should be present and should not be shown on the camera or serve in any liturgical ministry. Additionally, this individual should not receive communion during the Mass, but rather after the livestreaming has concluded immediately following the Mass if it is his/her desire. All care should be taken to ensure the same lay person assists at each livestreamed Mass requiring assistance.
      • No musicians or cantors should be present.
  • VI. GUIDELINES FOR USE OF CHURCH BUILDINGS FOR PRIVATE PRAYER o Materials that have been used in previous weeks or currently for prayer (hymnals, prayer books, bibles, rosaries) should be wiped down and sanitized. It is suggested that any materials not used to facilitate prayer or excess materials be sanitized and stored to reduce the amount of items that need to be sanitized daily.

What will happen in the coming days?

  • In consultation with our neighboring dioceses, the Task Force is reviewing potential scenarios for celebrating Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. Guidance for parishes should be available early next week.
  • Our ministry to those who are sick and ill should continue with appropriate safety precautions. In particular, priests should continue to provide the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and Confession to those who most need these means of grace and salvation. It is suggested to review the resources provided by the CDC, the VDH, and local healthcare providers. Further guidance can be found in the Emergency Preparedness Instruction Manual.
  • The Task Force continues to gather each morning to discuss and respond to developing needs. We will continue to send regular communications to the Pastoral Center staff and diocesan entities as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve.

Please know that the Lord continues to walk with us and He is near. Know also of my prayers for you in the coming days.

Sincerely in Our Lord,

Very Rev. Michael G. Boehling Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Catholic Diocese of Richmond 7800 Carousel Lane | Richmond, VA 23294-4201 Office: 804-359-5661

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