In this time of challenge Bishop Frank J. Dewane calls on every person to turn toward prayer as the Diocese, state, nation and world continue to face an uncertain future which bring unique difficulties during the ongoing pandemic.
“As Catholics, we trust in the power of prayer, God’s Hope and Mercy,” Bishop Dewane said. “Please join me is praying for those that have lost loved ones to this virus and may God console them and grant them peace. We also pray for the sick, caretakers, medical providers and all those impacted by this pandemic in different ways. When we unite for a common good, we can overcome fear and courageously face the challenges in the days ahead.”
Bishop Dewane, working in consultation with clergy and other Diocesan leadership are meeting daily in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
“Rest assured that together with our Priests and Diocesan Staff, I have been closely monitoring developments regarding the threat posed by the Coronavirus, particularly for the most vulnerable among us,” Bishop Dewane said. “
After consultation, on March 14 the Bishop issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass to all the Catholic Faithful until further notice. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, for now, will continue in our churches with the necessary precautions.
All the Catholic Faithful are asked to observe the Lord’s Day with reverence and in spiritual communion with one another, whether you attend Mass or not during this time. The Diocese of Venice offers a Sunday Televised Mass throughout the Diocese at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. (Additional information is location below about the Televised Mass and other ways to stay connected to your Faith while home.)
A special Coronavirus webpage has been created for your easy reference. Located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org. It will be updated throughout this crisis providing the latest communications from the Diocese to the Faithful including letters or notices from Bishop Dewane, as well as resources to assist in your prayer and spiritual life.
The following additional precautions are effective immediately throughout the Diocese of Venice:
- Classes are suspended in all Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Venice until at least March 30.
- All Parish Religious Education and Youth activities are suspended until at least March 30.
- Parish events are postponed or canceled through at least March 30.
- Parish and Diocesan offices will remain open during this time.
The Diocese continues to closely monitor the situation and will issue updates as appropriate on the Diocesan website.
Additional precautions have been taken or will be implemented by the weekend of March 21-22. They include:
- All missals and other printed material that may be handled by parishioners is to be removed.
- Collection baskets are being retrofitted to include a handle for the ushers to use and will eliminate the need to pass the basket from person to person. Where this is not possible, central collection points are being designated.
- The doors to Churches are being propped or held open by greeters before and after Mass so as to diminish the number of people touching the handles.
- Extensive handwashing and parish cleaning guidelines have been shared with all parishes.
Previous guidelines implemented in February include:
- Communion from the Chalice has been temporarily suspended in Parishes of the Diocese of Venice until further notice.
- The Faithful should avoid the shaking of hands or making physical contact during the time designated for the Sign of Peace. A verbal indication of peace or a bow of the head to one another is sufficient. Further, please recall that the Sign of Peace is an OPTIONAL PRACTICE in the Liturgy which may be omitted.
- There should be no holding of hands during the recitation of the Our Father.
- Holy Water fonts are emptied. However, a dispenser with a spigot will be provided to allow the Faith to take Holy Water home, therefore allowing continued access to this important Sacramental. In the absence of Holy Water fonts, the Faithful may be encouraged simply to make the Sign of the Cross as they enter the Church.
- The Faithful are encouraged to receive communion in the hand during this period. Please remember that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal indicates, “The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant” (160).
Please note that because of the specific risk facing clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion, separate guidelines have gone out to all parishes regarding procedures for distribution of Holy Communion in the Church as well as making visits to those at home or in hospitals.
As mentioned earlier, a special Coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage.
Resources include the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.
Additionally, Magnificat is offering the online version of this devotional at https://us.magnificat.net/free.
As noted, during this time when many are unable to attend Mass, the Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday and on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.
In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Charlotte, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4).
Please check local listings for channel info. Leaflet missals are available upon request by writing to TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. Or contact Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714, firstname.lastname@example.org.