Public Celebrations of Masses Suspended in Diocese of Yakima;
Dispensation Granted from Obligation to Attend Mass
Bishop Joseph Tyson, in response to Governor Jay Inslee’s announcement March 13 of an executive order expanding statewide the prohibition of public gatherings larger than 250 people, due to the coronavirus pandemic, has granted a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for all parishioners of the Diocese of Yakima, and all travelers within the boundaries of the Diocese on Sundays, for an indefinite time. Along with this dispensation he has suspended indefinitely the public celebration of all Masses in the Diocese of Yakima. While many parishes may never have Masses larger than 250 people, local health districts have recommended even stricter restrictions; for example, the Yakima County Health District has set the number at no more than 100. All Catholics in the Diocese, in a sign of our spiritual communion, are asked to accept this decision in the spirit of this Lenten season of sacrifice. The Diocese is working to make the online catechetical resource FORMED available to all parishioners in English and Spanish within the next two to three weeks.
At the same time, the positive message we want shared with the Catholic Faithful in our Diocese is that “the lights are on for you.” We are asking pastors to open our churches at set times each day for parishioners’ private prayer; scheduled celebrations of Eucharistic Adoration, which could include well-organized and small Eucharistic Processions; and opportunities for private confession (all following proper hygiene conditions, building security protocols, city parade permits, etc.) Priests should continue to celebrate the Eucharist privately, to pray for the Church, the world, our people, and for special intentions, and to be sure that adequate hosts are available for the distribution of Holy Communion to the sick or as Viaticum to the dying. We are asking our priests to be generous in their pastoral care, and prudent as well, to minimize the possibility of contracting or spreading illness, as we all struggle to adopt to the social distancing routines that will help us better weather the coronavirus storm.
Bishop Tyson is developing further guidelines for pastoral care. We will publicize these as soon as possible.
And let us all continue to pray for the sick and the dying; for a quick end to this pandemic; and for one another.
Artwork: Christ Carrying the Cross, Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627) / Public domain