April 30, 2020
|Bishop Michael Olson celebrates daily Mass April 28 at St. Patrick Cathedral. Deacon Linh Nguyen livestreamed the Mass to Facebook Live. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)|
FORT WORTH — In an April 29 statement Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth detailed many safety protocols which will accompany the opening of the 91 parishes in the diocese for public celebration of Masses beginning the weekend of May 2-3.
In his statement, the bishop noted that the process of reopening parishes for Mass with a congregation present will be phased. In this first phase, Bishop Olson continued the dispensation of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, and he urged those over 60 and individuals with compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions, or symptoms of any illness to stay home.
The faithful who attend Mass must keep six feet of distance between themselves and those outside their household. This will limit the number of people who can safely attend Mass, in accordance with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.
Wearing a mask or scarf over the nose and mouth during Mass will be mandatory.
Other measures enacted to reduce the spread of the coronavirus include hand sanitizer at the entrances, cleaning the church between Masses, removal of worship aids and collection baskets, and an orderly dismissal with no gathering afterwards. Holy Communion will be received in the hand only.
Many parishes will also offer Holy Communion outside the church after Mass for those who are unable to attend.
Modifications made to the liturgy during the flu season in January, which eliminated a shared chalice, holding hands, and handshakes, remain in effect.
These protocols also apply to Baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
Bishop Olson’s April 29 statement responded to the executive order given by Governor Greg Abbott on April 27 which outlined the reopening of Texas following the stay-at-home order necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bishop plans to reassess these protocols in two weeks, when Texas is scheduled to begin phase II of the state’s reopening.
Priests in the Diocese of Fort Worth have been celebrating Mass sine populo, without a congregation present, since the weekend of March 21-22. Parishes have been livestreaming Mass, and many have offered religious education opportunities by video conference. In this first phase of reopening parishes, formation classes and other church gatherings remain suspended.
During the shelter-in-place restrictions, Reconciliation was available by appointment. Parishes will now offer the sacrament of forgiveness on a regular schedule, in a manner that protects the penitent and the priest.
|A minister kneels during daily Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral April 28. Beginning May 2-3, public celebration of Mass will return in the Diocese of Fort Worth. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)|
In his statement, Bishop Olson praised local Catholics for their “extraordinary generosity” by giving nonperishable food and gift cards to their local parishes and Catholic Charities Fort Worth. He encouraged those who can give to continue, noting the “ongoing and growing need for these works of mercy from the faithful throughout our path to recovery.”
Bishop Olson, while noting the difficulty of the past six weeks, offered hope that God will ultimately use this pandemic for good.
The prelate stated, “For us as Christians and members of Christ’s Catholic Church, these have also been times for the opportunity to come to a renewal of our faith through prayers and works of mercy. Thus, we are not returning to the way things were before this pandemic; instead we are moving forward ever closer to Christ and towards establishing the Kingdom of God in our community.”
FORT WORTH — In an April 29, 2020, statement Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth detailed many safety protocols which will accompany the opening of the 91 parishes in the diocese for public celebration of Masses beginning the weekend of May 2-3.