COVID-19: Udupi Diocese suspends Holy Masses till March 31


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Udupi, 19 Mar: The Udupi Catholic Diocese has announced that no public Masses will be celebrated till March 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

In a press release issued by the Bishop’s House, Udupi on March 19 Bishop Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo said, “The whole world is in the grip of Coronavirus. It is necessary that we take precautionary measures so that we ourselves do not become victims of the deadly disease and more importantly we do not become unconscious carriers and communicators of the virus. As a diocese, our priority is the health and safety of our families. On March 18, 2020, the Deputy Commissioner of Udupi issued an Order No. MAG (2) R: 51/2020-21:54506 in view of preventing the spread of the virus and in the interest of public health and safety, which needs to be strictly adhered to by all. In light of this order, I give the following directives to be followed in all the churches and religious institutions of Udupi diocese until further orders”.

 

1. First and foremost, let us send our fervent prayers to the Lord who alone can save us from every danger and disease. Particularly, the present Lenten season is an ideal time for a prayerful intervention on our part. Let us then draw courage and confidence from our faith in the unfailing protection of our God.

 

2. Apart from taking all the necessary precautions, let us fully cooperate with the Central and State Government and heed to the periodic advisories issued by them for public safety.

 

3. In the interest of health and safety, coming and congregating in groups in the church is prohibited. Hence, masses (both weekdays and Sunday) will not be held in the church for faithful. When public access to Sunday Mass is unavailable, the faithful are dispensed from the Sunday obligation. I hereby exempt all the faithful of this diocese from the obligation to attend mass on Sundays till March 31, 2020. However, the churches will remain open for private prayer, meditation and visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

 

4. In case of a death in the parish, the funeral will take place in a simple manner. The priest will visit the family of the deceased and bless the mortal remains. Thereafter the funeral rites will be conducted in the presence of the family members. The celebration of the requiem masses could be postponed.

 

5. Let the faithful accept this situation, as an invitation to make their families ‘domestic churches’ with regular reading of the Bible, praying of the Rosary, practice devotions such as Way of the Cross, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Spiritual Reading, watch Celebration of the Mass and spiritual programs on TV and Internet. Let us remember to pray for those who are suffering from Coronavirus worldwide and for those who render medical service to the affected.

 

6. Spiritual programs such as retreats, Way of the Cross, common penitential services and other public devotions held in the church must be cancelled. Likewise, all conferences, seminars, SCC and ward gatherings, masses in the ward for the sick, summer camps, parish events, processions and so on are not to be held.

 

7. Anyone who is ill, suspects he/she is ill, or is considered vulnerable, people with chronic illness, immune system deficiencies or other underlying health conditions must refrain from visiting churches and other places.

 

8. As there are restrictions on public gatherings and all public celebrations, the Parish Priests and Heads of the Institutions should take into consideration the order of the District Administration on the issue of providing access to the parish halls for programs and meeting places.

 

9. Priests, Religious and leaders must take into account the ongoing guidance and orders from civil authorities relating to public/private gathering, personal hygiene, cleanliness in all public and private places, transport and other activities, and thus cooperate with them in promoting health and life.

 

We are saddened by this unexpected development which has forced us to forego our public spiritual activities, especially the celebration of the Eucharist. But we surrender to the will of God who is in firm control of every situation. Let us deepen our trust in God and double our prayers.

 

Be assured of my fervent prayers for all of you in this time of difficulty. Let us witness Christian charity towards all at this critical time.

 

 

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