Archdiocese Suspends Funeral Masses Effective March 23; Other Updated Guidelines Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

The Boston Archdiocese announced the following updated guidelines March 19th due the impact of the coronavirus outbreak:

  • All Masses and religious services that would normally be open to the public in all Archdiocesan parishes, missions, and campus ministries are suspended until further notice.
  • Confirmations scheduled to take place in the Archdiocese of Boston prior to Easter are postponed. We will soon follow up with those parishes regarding what options will be available for rescheduling, subject to guidance regarding public gatherings after April 7.
  • Baptisms and weddings may proceed but following Governor Baker’s Emergency Order issued March 15, attendance must be limited to no more than 25 persons. In the interest of the health of the people we serve these liturgies should be limited to only immediate family.
  • Effective Monday, March 23rd, funeral Masses and other forms of funeral services at our churches are suspended in the Archdiocese of Boston. We recommend that the bereaved be offered the opportunity for a graveside committal service during this time and a Memorial Mass when we are able to again offer the celebration of Mass and religious services at our parishes and churches.
  • The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass for the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston remains in place until public celebration of the Mass can be safely resumed.

Directives for Clergy

Informed by best practice recommendations of health care professionals, the Archdiocese has established the following directives for clergy providing sacramental ministry during this time of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

For clergy providing ministry to persons known to be carriers of COVID-19:

Restrictions for who can fulfill this ministry:

  • No priest or deacon in the high-risk group (i.e., over 60)
  • No priest or deacon with comorbidity; i.e., when two or more chronic illnesses are present. For example, Hypertension, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, any cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, COPD, heart disease.

These restrictions follow the healthcare guidance that indicate younger, healthier individuals are at a much-diminished risk of contracting a serious case of COVID-19.

Anointing of the Sick

  • If this is performed in a hospital or healthcare facility, the guidelines for protective measures, including garments, prevail.
  • If this is not performed in a hospital or healthcare facility: If available, latex gloves should be worn unless the patient or priest/deacon has an allergic sensitivity to latex. Additionally, if available, protective eye wear (a pair of glasses will suffice) should be worn.  Eyeglasses or goggles or eye protectors can be re-used BUT MUST be cleaned immediately after each visit with Lysol/Clorox wipes or washed with soap and water.
  • The anointing may be done with a cotton-tipped swab or a cotton ball which is to be burned or buried after use.
  • If the priest uses his gloved hand, the glove is to be burned or buried after the visit.
  • If Holy Communion is given, it is to be distributed in the hand.
  • Maintain social distance (six feet) with everyone in the room, except the patient.
  • Do not offer comfort with any physical contact.

Also informed by best practice health care recommendations, the Archdiocese is establishing immediately the following directives for clergy providing Holy Communion to the Sick and Homebound:

  • If this sacramental ministry is provided in a hospital or healthcare facility, the guidelines for protective measures, including garments, prevail.
  • If not provided in a hospital or healthcare facility:  If available, latex gloves should be worn unless the patient or priest/deacon has an allergic sensitivity to latex.  Additionally, if available, protective eye wear (a pair of glasses will suffice) should be worn.  Eyeglasses or goggles or eye protectors can be re-used BUT MUST be cleaned immediately after each visit with Lysol/Clorox wipes or washed with soap and water.
  • If the sacramental ministry is provided in a home, the following directives apply:
    • Wash hands or use a hand sanitizer once you enter the home;
    • Avoid any physical contact with the person or family during the visit;
    • Use a hand sanitizer again before distributing Communion;
    • If the communicant usually receives Communion on the tongue, strongly encourage him or her, for your safety as well as his / hers, to receive Communion in the hand.
    • Maintain social distance (six feet) with everyone in the room, except the patient.
    • Do not offer comfort with any physical contact.

In addition, please see the Office of Risk Management’s Risk Alert from March 16, 2020 (below) for information on how to prevent malware infections related to the coronavirus.

Please email us at covid@rcab.org if you have any questions.

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