Catholic Diocese Chapel

Catholic Conference

Stained-glass windows cast light patterns inside the chapel at the Catholic Diocese of Victoria chancery office.

The Diocese of Victoria will require priests to begin celebrating Mass without a congregation.

"All people can join in spiritual communion from their homes with the assurance that the sacrifice of praise is being offered for the health and salvation of the world," according to a diocese news release issued by Bishop Brendan J. Cahill on Tuesday.

The requirement will be in place until March 31.

Additionally, all scheduled parish events are canceled. Those events include penance services, Stations of the Cross, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, religious education classes, adult formation classes as well as all other liturgical gatherings, meetings and activities.

Diocese priests will continue to celebrate the Eucharist in their parishes but without a congregation.

The decision was made in accordance with guidelines from local authorities and President Donald Trump, who has asked the public to avoid groups of more than 10 people.

Crossroads residents may view Masses through live broadcasts.

Victoria's Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory broadcasts its Mass live on Sundays at 9 a.m. on KAVU, and streams are available at olvcathedral.org.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hallettsville broadcasts its Mass on Texas Thunder Radio 99.9 FM. The broadcast is also available through the TuneIn app.

"If parishes are able to conduct meetings and instruction by virtual means, they are encouraged to do so," according to the news release. "Pastors are encouraged to teach and maintain contact with their parishioners using social media and other forms of technology where and if this is possible."

Other Masses held elsewhere in the country are available on various cable networks.

Those who cannot attend Mass are encouraged to pray at their homes.

"Spiritual communion can also be made at any time," according to the news release. "In doing so, we unite ourselves to God and the church in prayer when unable to physically receive the Holy Eucharist."

Visits to homebound people, nursing care facilities and hospitals are also discouraged except for cases of pastoral necessity and emergencies. Visitors in those special case are asked to follow guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Weddings, funerals and baptisms will continue, but attendance is limited to 10 immediate family members. Confirmations will be rescheduled.

Parish churches will remain open for private prayer and Adoration, but protocols for social distancing should be followed.

In emergencies, including instances of anointing the sick, parishioners can call their parish offices, which will remain open. 

These directives will be reviewed April 1 to determine whether Holy Week services will be open to the public.

"Stringent measures must be taken in situations of national emergencies," according to the news release. "May these efforts, difficult as they are, be our way, in the Diocese of Victoria, of helping to prevent the spread of the (new) coronavirus."

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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