Current restrictions must remain, but we begin in hope to plan for our return to church

Current restrictions must remain, but we begin in hope to plan for our return to church

A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

National health experts and scientists continue to express grave concerns that the spread of COVID-19 is far from over. While they agree that mitigation and the other precautions that have been taken throughout the country seem effective, they are urging people not to lower their guard about this exceedingly contagious virus.  Some experts fear that we are facing a “slow burn” in the U.S. with coronavirus. continuing to spread “for many months to come.”

In the Diocese of Trenton, I have created a Post-Pandemic Parish Task Force of Pastors to initiate planning for the time when our parishes and churches can begin to reopen for private prayer without public Masses, sacramental celebrations and group prayer and devotions, observing the state guidelines currently in place.  The Task Force will then establish common guidelines and directives for the time when we can proceed toward the gradual, full restoration of parish life.  It is clear, however, that the time is not now and not yet.

Churches will remain temporarily closed for the present, live-streamed Masses will continue to support our prayer life for the time being, spiritual communions will be encouraged until we can receive the Eucharist again and Sacraments will remain temporarily postponed until it is safe to resume these elements of our full Catholic spiritual life.  The key word is “safe.” Those with the extensive public health expertise, experience and competence have advised that the situation is simply not “safe” for us at this point in the pandemic, especially for those who are unknowingly asymptomatic and may be COVID-19 carriers or for those in high risk categories.

To read Bishop O’Connell’s full message click here.

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