FALL RIVER — Following Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement this morning allowing the resumption of services at houses of worship in the state, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., conferred with the Presbyteral (or Priests’) Council in the Fall River Diocese to consider how best to proceed with the reopening of Catholic churches across Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
“The reopening for our parishes for public Masses is complex and requires careful planning and implementation,” said Bishop da Cunha. “What must be of paramount concern throughout this process of resuming public worship is the safety of our people, our priests, deacons and lay ministers.”
It was the consensus of Presbyteral Council members that some time will be needed to ensure that all parishes are prepared to meet all mandatory safety standards. In light of that, Bishop da Cunha has announced that churches in the Fall River Diocese will open for Masses for the May 30-31st weekend, the Feast of Pentecost in the Church’s calendar.
The bishop points out that the allowance of public worship in Massachusetts requires first and foremost that all necessary safety measures are observed. Diocesan guidelines to assist in the planning for the resumption of public Masses will be provided to all parishes.
During this time between now and Pentecost, Bishop da Cunha has reminded pastors that churches should be open for those who wish to visit for personal prayer and adoration. It is also permissible for priests to hear individual confessions of those who seek to receive the sacrament, observing the necessary safety measures.
Considering that many people, because of age or a medical condition, are advised not to come to church during this outbreak, or may prefer to stay home because of fear of becoming infected, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in effect until further notice.
“I pray that all of us in this diocesan family, clergy and laity will remain united in prayer as we move forward toward the reopening of our churches,“ said Bishop da Cunha.