The Joliet Diocese has suspended this weekend’s Mass schedule at all Diocesan churches and has made other changes to the liturgy effective immediately.
The directives came in a news release Friday afternoon from Bishop Richard Pates. It’s in response to what is now the coronavirus pandemic.
“The onset of the pandemic coronavirus requires of us that we take the necessary, even painful steps to halt the spread of this disease and then eventually return to our normal lifestyle,” Pates said in the news release.
“I fully realize that some of the accommodations are difficult for us in light of the great meaning of our prayer life. But they are undertaken in the interest of the common good, which ultimately is to the benefit of us as individuals and as communities. Your cooperation with them is much appreciated and valued.
“In light of the directives offered by the state, I am mandating the suspension of regular weekend Mass services in the Diocese of Joliet for the weekend of March 14-15, 2020. Exception may be made for weddings, funerals and confirmations, provided that the guidelines issued by the state of Illinois are observed, limiting participation to no more than 250 people. For future weekends, we will consider whether additional action is necessary as we go forward.”
Pates also made some changes to the liturgies for the Diocese of Joliet that are effective immediately and will be in place indefinitely.
• Dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Mass is effective immediately.
• The reception of Holy Communion should be by hand only … reception on tongue is temporarily suspended.
• Reception of the Precious Blood (wine) is suspended.
• The exchange of peace should be expressed verbally. Also, the practice of holding hands during the saying of the “Our Father” also is suspended.
• The Holy Water fonts should be emptied and not filled again. Parishes may make the Holy Water available in containers by which parishioners could fill their own bottles.
“I encourage all at this time to intensify Lenten practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving,” Pates said in the release. “Those who are dealing with the coronavirus should remain at home and as is customary for all who are otherwise ill should place priority on recovery from illness and not participate at this time in church services.”
All churches in the Daily Journal coverage area are in the Diocese of Joliet.
The Diocese also said it will close all schools until further notice, beginning Monday. It applies to all Catholic schools, religious education and youth ministry programs.