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Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida (Diocese of Venice in Florida Facebook Page)

Florida Catholic masses suspended due to coronavirus fears

The Diocese of Venice in Florida announced Wednesday that regularly scheduled Masses and other Liturgical events in Parish Churches in the Diocese of Venice will be suspended from March 20, 2020 until after Easter, when the situation can be re-evaluated.

Visitation to Churches to pray is also suspended. Therefore, the Faithful and visitors to the Diocese are dispensed from any obligation to attend Mass during this period.

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida, earlier granted dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice due to coronavirus concerns.

The Bishop released the following statement on the closure:

My prayer for you and your family is that you will be kept safe from all harm.

With the strength that comes from God, I encourage you to support your neighbors and
friends with the Hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. Together, we face the threat posed
by the Covid-19 outbreak – a crisis that is unprecedented in our lifetime. Still, there is
a need to remain flexible and adapt to circumstances, following, as best we can, the
guidance of public health officials.

Guidelines have been established that call for further limiting of public
gatherings. Therefore, out of pastoral concern for all, and after prayer and discernment,
as well as hearing from the priests and the Faithful, I announce that the regularly
scheduled Masses and other Liturgical events in Parish Churches in the Diocese
of Venice will be suspended from March 20, 2020 until after Easter, when the
situation can be re-evaluated. Visitation to Churches to pray is also suspended.
Therefore, the Faithful and visitors to the Diocese are dispensed from any
obligation to attend Mass during this period.

This is acknowledged as a sacrifice for the Catholic Faithful, who have a great
love for the Holy Eucharist and depend on the Most Blessed Sacrament for their
spiritual lives. Do recall that Faithful Catholics, throughout the history of the Church,
have kept the faith alive through trying times. By prayer and devotion, as well as
spiritual solidarity with each other, the life of faith continued to be a source of strength
and perseverance during persecutions and other times of public crisis. Tomorrow, on
the Feast of St. Joseph, I will dedicate the Diocese of Venice to the care of the Foster
Father of Jesus. Let us be united in prayer to St. Joseph for his intercession and
protection.

Our Priests have been asked to draw upon the Church’s rich tradition of prayer
and devotion to ensure that the spiritual life of parishioners is nourished and remains
vibrant through means which are prudently adapted to the current circumstances. Our
Diocesan website has a list of opportunities to view the celebration of the Holy
Mass. Parish websites will also provide other helpful suggestions for how to promote
prayerfulness and spiritual communion.

Priests, together with the Catholic Faithful, are asked to make prudent decisions
about Weddings and Funerals while observing guidance to limit gatherings. Baptisms
will only be celebrated in cases of emergency. The Anointing of the Sick ought to be
requested only in genuine need for the dying. Priests are to take the necessary
precautions to protect themselves and the Faithful when administering the Sacraments
to the Sick {i.e. the use of isolation gowns, masks and gloves, as well as following the
guidelines of medical professionals). All Confirmations prior to Easter have been
postponed, along with penance services. Parish and social events, as well as ministry
gatherings, are also suspended. Parishioners, in the event of emergency situations,
are invited to communicate with a Priest, Deacon or available staff by phone, or by
email.

As your Bishop, I am always edified and grateful for the generosity of the
Faithful, particularly at difficult times. Of course, you must consider your own
circumstances and how the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted your family. However,
it is also necessary to provide for the ministry of the Church, as well as continue to
serve the poor and the vulnerable through Catholic Charites. The Catholic Faithful are
humbly asked to continue their generous support for our Parishes, Schools, Catholic
Charities and the Diocese.

My dear Faithful, be confident that Christ is with us always and that the Blessed
Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph are interceding for us. Take courage and trust in God
during this time of many challenges.

For more information and updates, visit the Diocesan website.

Writer:Briana Harvath
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