Liturgical Guidelines

May 14 Update

Additions to the April 30 directives below

1. Congregational/Schola/Cantor Singing:  Due to concerns that congregational singing requires increased volumes of projected air and particulates, congregational singing should be suspended at Masses for the time being.  Other options should be considered such as using a single cantor who sings antiphons or hymns at least at the entrance and communion of the Mass, appropriate instrumental music, and smaller choirs and scholas which are able to maintain a social distance of ten feet.

2. Clarification/update regarding Holy Communion on the tongue: Several questions have been posed regarding how ministers should address situations in which communicants insist on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue at Mass.

First, it should be noted that the recent diocesan liturgical guidelines indicate that Holy Communion will be distributed in the hand.  This is the ancient and reverent option that Bishop Johnston is asking the faithful to adopt during this time.  It is also noted that the Bishop is not forbidding anything permitted in Church law which does grant the faithful the right to receive Communion on the tongue.

Should person(s) insist on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, this should take place after all in the congregation who are receiving in the hand have received per the directives.  In other words, no one insisting on receiving on the tongue should precede those receiving in the hand.

Additionally, Communion ministers must sanitize their hand if there is contact with the communicant’s tongue, face, hand, or breath before distributing Holy Communion to the next communicant.  This can be arranged by having purification materials, e.g., disinfectant wipe/sanitizer, nearby in the event it is necessary as the possibility of transferring any contagion is to be mitigated for the benefit of everyone’s health.

3. Server: If any server is next to the Communion Minister holding a paten during the distribution of Holy Communion, the server must also wear a mask at that time.

April 30 Update

Instruction

These days of pandemic have been a time of disruption and sacrifice in our ecclesial life.  I am grateful to our clergy and faithful for persevering in faith and charity during these times of challenge, including with online or mail-in financial contributions.  This instruction pertains to the pastoral and liturgical life of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and supplements, and in some instances, supersedes previous liturgical directives issued on April 17, 2020.

On April 27, 2020, Governor Mike Parson, through Director Randall Williams of the Department of Health and Senior Services, issued an order regarding the re-opening of certain portions of the state to activity and commerce, including public attendance at churches, effective May 4, 2020.

It is important to note that in local jurisdictions, other laws may apply which are more restrictive and this should be followed.  For just three examples, a) Vernon County limits liturgical attendance to 30% of maximum building occupancy; b) Platte County decreed on April 28 an extension of mass gathering restrictions (including religious and faith-based activities) to only 10 persons through May 31; and c) the Jackson County and Kansas City shelter-in-place order continues through May 15, and then for Kansas City will be 10% of occupancy.

All pastors, parochial administrators, and other personnel are to follow the requirements of legitimate state and civil authorities regarding public health in this pandemic.

After consultation with the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Missouri and the Presbyteral Council, this instruction is given to update, clarify, and determine the methods to be observed in the celebration of Mass and devotions for the public during the upcoming period of response to the pandemic.

In issuing these liturgical directives and Instruction, there may still exist the possibility that every parish (and pastor) may not be able to offer Mass open to the public due to, but not limited to, factors including the vulnerability of the priest himself, an inability to safely provide the additional personnel/staff/ushers needed, an inability to sufficiently sanitize and clean the church between services, and/or other circumstances.  Likewise, some priests may want at their discretion to supplement the previous schedule by adding additional Mass times to both the daily and/or weekend schedule.  Each priest may add a second daily Mass and up to 3 Sunday Masses, per his pagella and canon 905.  If he believes pastoral necessity requires his offering more than two daily Masses Monday through Saturday (Saturday Vigil Masses for Sunday count as one or both of the Saturday Masses) and/or three offered on Sunday, he needs the permission of the Office of the Bishop prior to any announcement of offering or celebration.

Let us commend ourselves to Mary, Mother of the Church, and her aid and protection.

Guidelines for Observing Social Distancing and other Health Requirements for the Celebration of Mass

The Bishops of Missouri establish the following common practices in the celebration of Mass to fulfill the requirements of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, with other directives to be determined by the individual Diocesan Bishops.

Before Mass

  1. All four Diocesan Bishops have dispensed the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and from the Easter Duty. Therefore,
    1. Those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to another with the virus within 14 days are not permitted to enter the church, in accordance with national, state and local health directives. All attendees are asked to check their temperature at home before coming to church.
    2. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 60 or older are strongly encouraged, for their own health, to avoid the risk of attending public celebrations of the Mass.
    3. We highly encourage parishes to live stream Mass, even on a daily basis, so that those unable to attend in person may maintain a spiritual connection with their local church.
  2. Appropriate cleaning of high use areas within the church is to be done before and after each service.
    1. The pews utilized by the assembly shall be wiped down with disinfectant.
    2. All hymnals and missalettes are to be removed from the pews and stored for the duration of the pandemic. No other materials may be left in the pews. The faithful are encouraged to bring their own missals or hymnals or smartphones for use during the celebration of Mass.
    3. Restroom facilities and door handles, push plates, and knobs are to be sanitized after each service.
  3. Holy water fonts are to remain empty until further notice.
  4. Hand sanitizer is to be made available throughout the church, whenever possible.
  5. The faithful are obliged to wear a mask upon entering the church and during the celebration of Mass, except when remaining in the pew and for the brief moment of receiving Holy Communion. Ushers and other volunteers are to wear masks and gloves (when gloves are not available, frequent handwashing will be necessary) throughout the celebration of Mass. Pastors are to see to it that these obligations are enforced without exception. Those at the altar are to wear a mask if distributing Holy Communion.
  6. Clergy and other ministers are to maintain six-foot distancing and should not greet parishioners as they enter the church.

During Mass

  1. Entry and exit doors are to be adequately designated and monitored. Entry doors are to be propped or held open before Mass, and exit doors are to be propped or held open at the end of Mass to prevent people from touching the door handles, knobs or push plates.
  2. Staff, ushers or other volunteers should assist with directing people to pews specifically marked. Attendance may be limited to assure compliance with social distancing requirements.
  3. Families are to maintain six-foot distancing between their family and other families or individuals throughout the celebration of Mass.
    1. Seating is to be arranged such that six feet of distance can be maintained between members of one household and members of another.
    2. One or two pews are to be left vacant in between congregants such that six feet of distance can be maintained in all directions.
    3. Music ministers are to maintain six-foot social distancing.
  4. Procession of the Gifts is suspended. Collection baskets (or any other materials) are not to be passed from one family to another, nor shall ushers take up the collection from the congregation. Stationary baskets are to be used for donations from the assembly and are to be monitored by the ushers until the donations are collected and handled according to the proper protocols in place for handling the collection.
  5. The sign of peace is optional. If it is offered, there is to be no physical contact. A simple gesture, such as a nod of the head, is recommended.
  6. All concelebrating clergy are to receive Holy Communion by intinction, utilizing a separate chalice from the main celebrant and with the last priest communicant consuming all that remains in the Chalice.
  7. Priests or deacons who are in at-risk groups are permitted to refrain from distributing Holy Communion and are able to delegate distribution to other Communion ministers.
  8. For the distribution of communion, ushers or other volunteers who are masked and gloved will ensure six-foot distancing in the communion line. Floor markings shall be placed six feet apart in the aisles in which the congregation approaches the sanctuary for communion to facilitate proper social distancing.
  9. Communion ministers must be masked, sanitize their hands immediately before and after distributing Communion, and when at all possible, to utilize a disinfectant wipe or purificator dipped in a sanitizing solution (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) to sanitize their fingers when incidental contact is made with the communicant.
  10. Distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice is prohibited to the assembly and vested deacons. For those who are gluten intolerant, special arrangements are to be made with the pastor.
  11. Maintaining a single-file is necessary for the distribution of Holy Communion for each Communion minister and communicant to maintain social distancing. Multiple Communion ministers may be used as long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.
  12. During this time, Holy Communion will be distributed in the hand* in keeping with the advice of state health officials and thereby to avoid the Communion minister’s fingers coming into contact with saliva or airborne contagion. This might be a good occasion to review proper reception with parishioners: “When receiving in the hand, the communicant should be guided by the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem: ‘When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King. Then receive him, take care that nothing is lost.’” (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America, no. 41) (*see addition above issued on May 14)
  13. Those who refrain from receiving communion still unite themselves with the sacrifice of Christ. Non-communicants are kindly asked to remain in their places rather than process to request a blessing—a blessing all receive at the end of Mass.
  14. When approaching the Communion minister, the communicant is to pull their mask below their chin in order to receive Communion. The communicant immediately replaces their mask after consuming the Host.

After Mass

  1. Family units should depart the church in an organized manner wearing masks and observing six feet of distance between other households. Ushers or clergy may need to direct this process.
  2. Ushers are not to hand out bulletins or other materials.
  3. Clergy and other ministers are not to greet parishioners as they exit the church.
  4. There are to be no receptions or social gatherings (e.g., coffee and doughnuts) following Mass.
  5. Pews and other high traffic areas of the church are to be wiped down before the next service, with the removal of trash and other items from the pews.


April 17, 2020 Update

  1. Suspension of Public Masses is also hereby extended from the previously announced date of April 24 to May 15, 2020, unless retracted, for Kansas City, North Kansas City, and Jackson County. Unless restricted by the local county or city government, other jurisdictions have the suspension of Public Masses through at least May 3, 2020; though these cities and counties may become additionally extended by either civic government or the Office of the Bishop. Though up to ten total adult persons present remains possible while meeting the needs of assisting ministers and technical support, the charitable and loving value remains to keep as many persons home as possible to continue to flatten the curve and keep everyone healthy and safe.
  2. Weddings, with Missouri civil licenses acquired within the 30 days inclusive of the marriage date, may be celebrated through May 15, 2020, according to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony with only ten persons (who are asymptomatic, no temperature, socially distanced, etc., according to CDC criteria) present and with any necessary dispensations and/or permissions necessary from the Office of the Chancellor as the delegate of the Bishop. Questions regarding marriages within the month of May in all civic jurisdictions of the diocese are to be directed to Fr. Ken Riley, Vicar General for Administration – Chancellor.
  3. Funeral rites may be celebrated through May 15, 2020, according to the Order of Christian Funerals with only ten persons (who are asymptomatic, no temperature, socially distanced, etc., according to CDC criteria) present and, for Kansas City, North Kansas City and Jackson County, with the notification form previously transmitted on March 25, 2020, to priests, liturgists and business managers MUST still be sent to Fr Charles Rowe, Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs, the reporting remaining in effect.
  4. Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation:
    Since there were no initiation sacraments at the Easter Vigil this year in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, these options remain: a) if pandemic restrictions become more adequately lifted to phase two of the US government directed Opening Up America Again gating criteria threshold guidelines and the possibility of gathering of up to fifty persons who are asymptomatic, no temperature, socially distanced, etc., according to the CDC guidelines, the bishop grants permission to celebrate the initiation of the elect by Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at a Pentecost Vigil Mass on May 30, 2020; or b) for gathering of ten or fewer persons present, the priest may celebrate the initiation rites on any available Sunday in Easter Time.
  5. Likewise, in accordance with Church law, priests may celebrate the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church at any time for those adults and children of catechetical age who have a valid baptism in another Christian denomination. Priests may schedule receptions at the earliest opportunity with ten or fewer asymptomatic, no temperature, socially distanced, etc., persons according to the CDC guidelines. When phase two of the Opening Up America Again criteria has been declared reached for either the county or the State of Missouri, up to fifty asymptomatic, no temperature, socially distanced, etc., persons according to the CDC guidelines may be admitted to the celebration.

    Repeating here for convenience, regarding Penance and Emergency/Danger of Death Anointings and Viaticum:

  6. Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance:
    INDIVIDUAL Confessions heard in confessional boxes/confined rooms remain suspended due to the requirements of combating the coronavirus following the direction of both the Apostolic Penitentiary (See: Note from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current pandemic) and USCCB (See: The Care of Souls and the Forgiveness of Sins During This Pandemic). Individual confessions may be celebrated in a well-ventilated area which can provide for social distancing and the confidentiality of the confession. The sacrament of Reconciliation should be celebrated inside the church or spaces of church or parish school buildings which have been prepared for the worthy celebration of the sacrament. As you are able, provide for the anonymity of the penitent if that is possible and desired as an option. Spaces for confession should minimize the likelihood of multiple people touching surfaces which the next penitent might contact.

    Also note the USCCB Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs in “The Care of Souls and the Forgiveness of Sins During This Pandemic” guidance to the Faithful who are anxious that they do not have an opportunity for reception of the Sacrament at this time following:
    “The Holy See, through the Apostolic Penitentiary, has offered two recourses for the faithful:

    • “Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”perfect contrition requires
      • the love of God
      • the sincere desire for forgiveness
      • the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available
    • “The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.
      • This is a time of suffering, especially for those who have contracted COVID-19. As such, it may be a time for us to “rediscover ‘the same redemptive suffering of Christ’ (Salvifici doloris, 30).”
      • Trusting in Christ, a Plenary indulgence is “granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”
      • “Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.”
      • An indulgence is “the expression of the Church’s full confidence of being heard by the Father when – in view of Christ’s merits and, by his gift, those of Our Lady and the saints – she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of grace” (John Paul II, General Audience, September 29, 1999).
      • A plenary indulgence removes all the temporal punishment due to sin (CCC, 1471).

    Promotion and catechesis on these remedies during the absence of the sacrament of reconciliation can be a source of great consolation for all the faithful.” [conclusion of USCCB quotation began at paragraph 3 of number 2]. Please inform your parishioners of the Church’s aid even in this time when staying home and confessing one’s sins privately to God according to the Church’s teaching as presented above.

  7. Emergency/Danger of Death Anointings of the Sick and Viaticum (as possible)
    1. For the celebration of the “Last Rites”, however, Viaticum may be given along with the Anointing of the Sick with the observance of the special protocols (e.g., use of fresh oil, cotton balls/Q-tips, and medical gloves and masks).
    2. To prevent the contamination of the Blessed Sacrament, the priest should only bring the amount of Holy Communion necessary for Viaticum.
    3. Hospital chaplains are to be especially attentive to the directions of their medical institution and use prudence in moving from room to room in pastoral visits.
    4. All priests are reminded to offer the Apostolic Pardon (found, for example, #265, small green book Pastoral Care of the Sick) with or without a celebration of Anointing of the Sick.
    5. Helpful for our own edification and catechesis of the faithful is number 12 of the Manual of Indulgences: At The Point Of Death:
      §1 a priest who administers the sacraments to someone in danger of death should not fail to impart the apostolic blessing (pardon) to which a plenary indulgence is attached.
      §2 If a priest is unavailable, Holy Mother Church benevolently grants to the Christian faithful, who are duly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime; in such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence.
      §3 In this latter case, the use of a crucifix or a cross in obtaining the plenary indulgence is commendable.
      §4 The faithful can obtain this plenary indulgence at the hour of death, even if they have already acquired a plenary indulgence on that same day.
      §5 The catechetical instruction of the faithful should ensure that they are duly made aware and frequently reminded of this salutary benefaction of the Church.




March 22, 2020

    1. Two Prayer Requests for everyone from Pope Francis:
      • March 25, 6 am praying of Our Father
        Pope Francis has called on all Christian leaders and every Christian community around the world to recite the Our Father in union with him at noon [6 am local time] on Wednesday, the Feast of the Annunciation, as “humanity trembles at the threat” of the coronavirus pandemic “in these days of trial.”
        Addressing the faithful through the media from the apostolic palace after reciting the Angelus, March 22, the Pope said that as the prayer will take place “on the day when many Christians remember the annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord hear the unanimous prayer of all his disciples preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.”
      • URBI et ORBI Blessing: Friday, March 27, 12 Noon; plenary indulgence
        In this time of emergency for humanity, the Holy Father Francis invites Catholics from all over the world to join spiritually in prayer with him next Friday March 27th at 18.00. [12 noon, local time]
        The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication.
        All those who spiritually join this moment of prayer through the media will be granted the plenary indulgence according to the conditions provided for in the recent decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
    2. Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance:
      At this time, Bishop Johnston has directed that INDIVIDUAL Confessions heard in confessional boxes/confined rooms are suspended effective immediately due to the requirements of combating the coronavirus following the direction of both the Apostolic Penitentiary (See: Note from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current pandemic) and USCCB (See: The Care of Souls and the Forgiveness of Sins During This Pandemic). Individual confessions may be celebrated in a well-ventilated area which can provide for social distancing and the confidentiality of the confession. The sacrament of Reconciliation is to be celebrated inside the church or spaces of church or parish school buildings which have been prepared for the worthy celebration of the sacrament. As you are able, provide for the anonymity of the penitent if that is possible and desired as an option. Spaces for confession should minimize the likelihood of multiple people touching surfaces which the next penitent might contact.
      Also note the USCCB Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs in “The Care of Souls and the Forgiveness of Sins During This Pandemic” guidance to the Faithful who are anxious that they do not have an opportunity for reception of the Sacrament at this time following:

      “However, given public restrictions, the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with either individual or general absolution may not be possible. This will make some of the faithful anxious, especially during this Lenten season of penance.
      To help in this, the Holy See, through the Apostolic Penitentiary, has offered two recourses for the faithful:

        1. “Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”
          perfect contrition requires

          • the love of God
          • the sincere desire for forgiveness
          • the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available
        2. “The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.
          • This is a time of suffering, especially for those who have contracted COVID-19. As such, it may be a time for us to “rediscover ‘the same redemptive suffering of Christ’ (Salvifici doloris, 30).”
          • Trusting in Christ, a Plenary indulgence is “granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”
          • “Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.”
            • An indulgence is “the expression of the Church’s full confidence of being heard by the Father when – in view of Christ’s merits and, by his gift, those of Our Lady and the saints – she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of grace” (John Paul II, General Audience, September 29, 1999).
            • A plenary indulgence removes all the temporal punishment due to sin (CCC, 1471).

      Promotion and catechesis on these remedies during the absence of the sacrament of reconciliation can be a source of great consolation for all the faithful.” [conclusion of USCCB quotation began at paragraph 3 of number 2]. Please inform your parishioners of the Church’s aid even in this time when staying home and confessing one’s sins privately to God according to the Church’s teaching as presented above.

    3. Emergency/Danger of Death Anointings of the Sick and Viaticum (as possible)
      1. For the celebration of the “Last Rites”, however, Viaticum may be given along with the Anointing of the Sick with the observance of the special protocols (e.g., use of fresh oil, cotton balls/Q-tips, and medical gloves and masks).
      2. To prevent the contamination of the Blessed Sacrament, the priest should only bring the amount of Holy Communion necessary for Viaticum.
      3. Hospital chaplains are to be especially attentive to the directions of their medical institution and use prudence in moving from room to room in pastoral visits.
      4. All priests are reminded to offer the Apostolic Pardon (found, for example, #265, small green book Pastoral Care of the Sick) with or without a celebration of Anointing of the Sick.
      5. Helpful for our own edification and catechesis of the faithful is number 12 of the Manual of Indulgences: At The Point Of Death:
        §1 a priest who administers the sacraments to someone in danger of death should not fail to impart the apostolic blessing (pardon) to which a plenary indulgence is attached.
        §2 If a priest is unavailable, Holy Mother Church benevolently grants to the Christian faithful, who are duly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime; in such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence.
        §3 In this latter case, the use of a crucifix or a cross in obtaining the plenary indulgence is commendable.
        §4 The faithful can obtain this plenary indulgence at the hour of death, even if they have already acquired a plenary indulgence on that same day.
        §5 The catechetical instruction of the faithful should ensure that they are duly made aware and frequently reminded of this salutary benefaction of the Church.
    4. Suspension of Public Masses is also hereby extended from the previously announced date of April 3 now through April 24, 2020, unless retracted.
    5. Weddings: All weddings are to be postponed or rescheduled until at least April 24, 2020; outside of danger of death situations.
    6. Funeral Masses: Where civic restrictions do not forbid funerals, a priest may celebrate a funeral Mass with up to four asymptomatic adults on a Lenten weekday through April 8, 2020. Where civic restrictions do not forbid it, he may celebrate a funeral without Mass with up to four asymptomatic adults on April 9, 10 and 11. Alternatively, the priest may celebrate a Mass for the Dead on a Lenten weekday up to April 4, or on weekdays from April 13-24, and he may then celebrate a funeral Mass for the same deceased person after April 24, pending both governmental directives and permission from the Office of the Bishop.
    7. Suspension of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil:
      • Since there will be no initiation sacraments at the Easter Vigil this year in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, please plan for either of these options: a) tentatively, if pandemic restrictions are lifted, the bishop grants permission to celebrate the initiation of the elect by Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at a Pentecost Vigil Mass on May 30, 2020; or b) the priest may celebrate the initiation rites on the first available (hopefully) Sunday in Easter Time when both the local/state/federal government have lifted restrictions and the Office of the Bishop permits.
      • Likewise, in accordance with Church law, priests may celebrate the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church at any time for those adults and children of catechetical age who have a valid baptism in another Christian denomination. Priests may schedule receptions at the earliest opportunity AFTER civic restrictions on gatherings have been lifted and the Office of the Bishop confirms that civic lifting for the state/county where the Rite of Reception is to be celebrated.
    8. HOLY WEEK
      The faithful should be informed of the times of the private celebration of these liturgies so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. The means of live (not recorded) televised or internet/live streamed broadcasts are helpful.

      1. Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord
        + The pastor or another priest should celebrate Mass for the intentions of the people privately with up to four asymptomatic adults to assist the celebration of the liturgy.
        + Palms are to be blessed using the second form of the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem, but NOT distributed in any manner to the faithful until the Office of the Bishop directs and grants permission.
      2. Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper
        + The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has granted the exceptional faculty to each priest to celebrate Mass, without the people present, on this day in 2020. As above, the priest may celebrate privately or have up to four additional asymptomatic adults assisting in the vital ministries.
        + The foot washing option must be omitted.
        + At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose is to be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle.
        + Priests who are unable to celebrate Mass should instead pray Vespers/Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours.
      3. Good Friday, Passion of the Lord
        + As above, the priest may celebrate privately or have up to four additional asymptomatic adults assisting in the vital ministries.
        + In the Universal Prayer, there is to be added EITHER of the options attached. The first is from the USCCB and the second is provided by our KCSJ Office of Divine Worship.
        + During the Adoration of the Holy Cross, there should be no kissing or touching of the cross. A genuflection or profound bow would be an appropriate sign of reverence.
      4. Easter Vigil
        + As above, the priest may celebrate privately or have up to four additional asymptomatic adults assisting in the vital ministries.
        + At “The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil or Lucenarium,” the preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted.
        + The Paschal Candle is lit; the procession is omitted.
        + The Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) follows.
        + The Liturgy of the Word takes place according to the rubrics.
        + For the “Baptismal Liturgy,” the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” alone is necessary (cf. Missale Romanum, pg 371, n. 55).
        + The Liturgy of the Eucharist then follows.
        + All priests and religious who have absolutely no possibility of uniting themselves to the Paschal Vigil celebrated in a church should pray the Office of Readings for Easter Sunday in the Liturgy of the Hours. Others are likewise invited to pray the Office of Readings in union with Church universal.
      5. Easter Sunday
        + As above, the priest may celebrate privately or have up to four additional asymptomatic adults assisting in the vital ministries.

      These guidelines do not address nor anticipate every possible situation. Further advice might be needed in those situations.



March 16, 2020

Liturgical Protocols as Community Transmission of Covid-19 Begins in Missouri

As at least one community transmission of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) has been declared in our area (i.e., widespread infection), public celebrations of the liturgy will cease.

Churches will remain open for personal and household prayer, devotions, and confessions. If the parish has the practice of Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, this practice may continue, be restricted, or be suspended altogether according to the judgment of the pastor. Under no circumstances is the exposed Blessed Sacrament to be left unattended. If necessary, the Blessed Sacrament may be reposed in the tabernacle and adorers should be encouraged to maintain their prayer schedules as much as possible.

As COVID-19 begins to spread in Missouri because of community transmission, the following additional measures will take immediate effect for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph until April 3:

          1. The suspension of all public Masses. This includes the extension of the dispensation by the Bishop for all the faithful from the obligation to participate at Mass on Sunday.
          2. The celebration of Mass by the priest should continue and include the assistance of at least one other adult minister who is asymptomatic, but no more than four.  Previously scheduled intentions, including the weekly Mass for the people, may be fulfilled in this manner.
          3. Priests are encouraged to solicit assistance from the laity to live-stream Masses celebrated in the parish, using social media. This can be done with a smartphone with access to the internet. If not, the Mass could be recorded (again on a smartphone) and then later uploaded to the parish website or posted for viewing online. Parishioners, of course, could be encouraged to watch Mass on the internet or television, but the preference should be given to virtual participation in the Mass celebrated in their home parish.  Our diocesan website has posted some links to others on the sidebar of https://kcsjcatholic.org/coronavirus-updates/.
          4. The faithful are also encouraged to celebrate Sunday as a domestic church by taking time to pray together as a household.  At our diocesan update link we provide some additional links in addition to making a Spiritual Communion, praying a rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and particularly our recommended Prayer to Mary, Health of the Sick.
          5. Baptisms may still be celebrated, but with the requirement to keep attendance to asymptomatic immediate family and godparents.
          6. The sacrament of confession should still be offered, but penance services are to be canceled. When celebrated individually, proper social distancing should be observed as much as possible. This would seem to favor anonymous confession through the screen. For face-to-face confessions, consideration should be given to moving the chair for the penitent approximately six feet from the confessor, even if this would necessitate using a different room than normally used for confession.
          7. Holy Communion may still be administered by clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and anointing of the sick may still be administered by priests to those seriously ill or in danger of death, but always following the proper protocols for handwashing and use of masks by those infected and those who are ministering.
          8. Confirmation Masses with the bishop will be rescheduled.  Priests should use the faculty to confirm in danger of death if needed.
          9. Public weddings should be rescheduled, particularly those in April. Simple weddings and validations may be celebrated, but only with the minister, official witnesses and asymptomatic immediate family members.
          10. Funerals may be celebrated, but only with the minister and immediate family members.  Pastors may use discretion on other requests from families on including others, but are to abide by the restrictions for the health and safety of society of everyone issued by the competent governmental agency (i.e., CDC, federal, state, and local governments).  No funeral luncheons may be held.  Families and pastors are encouraged to schedule Memorial Masses for their loved ones in the future, when public health restrictions are relaxed, so that larger numbers may gather if desired.
          11. If they are not already doing so, parishioners should be encouraged to consider contributing to the parish by electronic giving. They may also mail their weekly contributions.  The Church will continue her ministries during this period of financial strain and please consider maintaining or increasing your level of contributions at this time.
          12.  Public celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, in-person Bible study groups (or other devotional gatherings) are suspended until the public celebration of Mass resumes.  Parishes are further encouraged to immediately suspend all PSR/CCD classes, Youth Ministry events, retreats, and similar gatherings consistent with directives provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments.
          13. The public celebration of the Chrism Mass will not happen, but a later communication will inform priests upon the procedure in acquiring the three oils for the new year.
          14. Regarding planning for Holy Week, for current consideration are the following:
            1. The liturgies could be celebrated with the priest and at least one minister but no more than four, and recorded as described above. If possible, an organist, keyboardist or other musician who sings, or a musician and cantor could be present to assist in order to provide some music for these most sacred celebrations.
            2. At the discretion of the pastor for those parishes with catechumens and/or candidates, the Easter Vigil could be celebrated with the catechumens and/or candidates with only asymptomatic individuals who are sponsors, RCIA team members and immediate family, or their baptism/reception may be postponed until a later time (e.g., the Vigil of Pentecost on May 30).

These petitions can be added to any prayers of the faithful posted or shared electronically with our parishes:

            • For those who are suffering in the current outbreak of sickness, that they might be healed, and for the happy repose of all who have died from this sickness in recent weeks; let us pray to the Lord
            • For scientists, health professionals, public officials, and all who are serving the common good in this difficult and uncertain time, that they will be filled with wisdom and understanding; let us pray to the Lord
            • That in times of illness, our merciful and loving Father will strengthen our faith and trust in His goodness and divine providence; let us pray to the Lord
            • That our compassionate Father would touch all affected by the current outbreak with healing and peace; let us pray to the Lord

  1. March 13, 2020 Update (1.2)

    From: Dan Peters, Superintendent of Catholic Schools
    Re: Coronavirus

    Dear Parents,

    Keeping students and staff healthy is a top priority for the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and each of our schools and early educational centers. As with many other things in a school and centers, it is critical for the parents, students and staff partner to minimize the impact a communicable disease can have on our community. The Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic schools and centers will provide the best education for its students even during the challenges provided by the coronavirus pandemic. The following should help schools, centers, and parents during a communicable disease outbreak as we could be experiencing in the next few weeks.

    Stay At Home: The fear of exposing our student population to the virus is particularly acute considering some families are planning to travel during their school’s spring break next week. Let me make an appeal in the strongest possible terms. If parents, their children, or relatives have been in contact or might have been in contact with someone who has been exposed to the cornavirus, parents should immediately notify the principal or director of their child’s school or center and be prepared to self-quarantine entire family. Any child self-quarantined will be provided the opportunity to complete the required schoolwork and stay on track with the rest of their class. Preventing others from being exposed to this disease or any disease is always the right thing to do. Please think of the greater good of our community and stay home.

    School or Center Closure: If governmental officials (local school districts, local county health departments, or the CDC) or the Diocese determine the need to close all or part of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic schools or centers, we are preparing to provide home-based education for all our students. Each school or center is in the process of developing lessons students can complete at home during a school closure which are as close to a face-to-face school experience as possible. The delivery system and other components of the system will be slightly different at each school. Some schools or centers will extensively use technology while other schools or centers will provide paper lessons or a combination of the two. We are committed to doing the best that we can if school or center closure happens.

    Prevention Steps at School/Center: The diocesan schools/centers will adhere to the following precautions to ensure student and staff health:

            • School administrators and nurses monitor and track student illnesses, and review CDC and state health department guidance.
            • Schools will use both routine cleaning methods and extra disinfection efforts in classrooms and school/center buildings that have reported an uptick in illnesses.
            • To ensure a proactive approach, schools/centers will evaluate their current crisis and emergency procedures related to health and illness in collaboration with local health departments and law enforcement partners.

    Prevention Steps at Home: Respiratory viruses, such as the coronavirus, are transmitted from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when a person touches something that has the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, eyes or nose. While most of the population is at a greater risk of contracting seasonal influenza than coronavirus, it is essential that we partner to prevent the spread of all illnesses by embracing the following practices:

            • Stay home if you are sick with the flu or are presenting symptoms of the flu to prevent spreading it to others at school and in the workplace. If you believe you or your children are becoming ill with influenza-like symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue), contact your local healthcare provider. Home-based school work will be provided.
            • Practice frequent hand washing using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. You may also use hand sanitizer when it is difficult to wash your hands.
            • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes because the virus can spread when your hands touch surfaces infested with germs.
            • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing. If a tissue is not available, sneeze or cough into the upper portion of your shirt sleeve and avoiding sneezing or coughing into your hands (which are more likely to touch surfaces and other people and spread the disease).
            • Don’t share drinks, water bottles, eating utensils or cell phones with others.
            • Practice “social distancing”, especially in the case of a pandemic. Stand at least three feet away from others if you or the other person is infected with the flu.
            • Ensure children and adults are fever-free for 24 hours without medication before returning to work or school.
            • Get a flu shot.
            • More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or health.mo.gov/coronavirus.

    If parents have concerns about what is being done to prevent children or staff from being infected, please feel free to contact your child’s school or center. It is important that parents and the schools/centers work together to make the most of a difficult situation.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Peters, Superintendent of Schools

    PDF: March 13, 2020 Office of Catholic Schools message


March 13, 2020 Update (1.1)

Expanding the DISPENSATION:

As noted in previous communications, universal Church law allows those who are sick or caregivers of the sick are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation.

Previously, during this growing COVID-19 experience, persons who suspected themselves being exposed to a contagion like the cornonavirus were directed to seek a dispensation from the obligation from their priest.

Bishop Johnston himself grants during this time of the pandemic the following dispensation for persons within the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph:

            • For those who suspect they or a housemate may have been exposed to COVID-19.
            • For those who feel, in conscience, that they may be endangered by COVID-19 by their presence in a group of people at Mass.
            • Those persons who are absenting themselves are asked to please let their pastor know so that parish personnel can stay in touch and pastorally communicate with all those unable to attend Mass during this time.

March 12 Update

Bishop Johnston mandates the following guidelines currently, in addition to those previously given, regarding Mass and related liturgies within the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph until further notice:

  • The sick or a member of the Christian faithful who has a compromised immune system are to refrain from attending Mass.
  • Holy water fonts without a filtration system and continual flow of blessed water are to be emptied.
  • Physical contact is suspended before, during, and after Mass and at other liturgies, encouraging the “social distancing” necessary to assist keeping everyone as healthy and safe as possible.  The Sign of Peace is to be offered, but without touch.
  • Those administering Holy Communion are to be in good health, free from symptoms of illness and have not been in contact with someone who was ill in the previous 14 days.
  • Distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice – beyond the presider and any concelebrants for a valid Mass – is suspended.
  • As our Masses are less than 1,000 persons, their celebration continues to be offered daily and on weekends.  Presently, Masses are not cancelled.
  • Decisions on other liturgical celebrations, for example, the Chrism Mass will be determined at a later date.
  • Contingency plans are in place to respond to this developing situation and further monitoring will allow additional communication of updated guidelines and steps to address this virus while caring for the common good and our most vulnerable persons at this time.
  • All decisions regarding parish, school and diocesan workplace operations will continue to be determined by developments in the COVID-19 situation in the Kansas City and northwest Missouri diocesan area, as well as by the effects on each individual community.  We reiterate to our parishes, schools and staff the importance of reviewing the CDC website regularly, staying home if one is sick, following hygiene and travel guidelines from health officials, and reporting any pertinent information to the local health department.

Bishop urges everyone to pray, and he offers this as a recommendation:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Patroness and Protector of the People of the United States of America,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.  Amen.


March 10 Update

With charity to our brothers and sisters, particularly the elderly, those struggling with respiratory issues or other compromised immunity issues, and to supplement the guidance already communicated to our priests last week, the following common sense and more deliberate actions are to be taken in our parishes, schools and diocesan ministries:

  • Just like with the annual flu or common cold, everyone needs to practice good hygiene beginning with washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
  • The use of an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution/gel is also encouraged.
  • Don’t come to Mass if you are sick: Catholics are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation.  However, circumstances such as sickness and, for example, severe weather excuse the faithful of this obligation.  In the instance that a person suspects being exposed to a contagion like the coronavirus, they as well as their caregivers, are dispensed from attending Mass by Bishop Johnston within the diocese for the duration of the condition’s existence.
    Per the advice of the CDC, our elderly and others in determined frail health who are quite susceptible to the coronavirus may likewise seek the same dispensation from Mass from their priest.
  • Physical contact at Mass: Pastors and parishioners may limit the instances in which there is direct physical contact at Mass, such as avoiding holding hands at the Our Father.  The Sign of Peace may be exchanged without contact but with words alone.
  • Receiving Holy Communion: Those who are ill, or suspect they may have been exposed to a contagion due to one’s travels or nearness to an infected individual, should refrain from receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice, and only receive the sacred Host.  One is not permitted to dip the Host (intinction) as this is an illicit practice that only the priest may perform for a communicant as well as such an illicit practice may contaminate the Precious Blood in the chalice.  As more direct contact with saliva and breathing on the Communion Minister’s hand exists in distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue, anyone who suspects that they may be ill as well as anyone who is particularly susceptible to infection or complications should refrain from such reception.  At their discretion, pastors may suspend distribution of the Precious Blood beyond the priests themselves.
  • Collections: While not possible in all communities and for those parishes possessing collection baskets with long handles, ushers are encouraged to assist the faithful in receiving their contributions for the good of the Church with these handled baskets, further limiting multiple touches of passed baskets at this time of possible contagion.
  • Holy Water fonts: Holy water in free standing fonts at the doorways should be changed very frequently, with water being poured into the ground.  Baptismal fonts with flowing water and recently installed filters remain sufficient to present conditions.  Parishioners are not required to make use of holy water when blessing themselves before or after Mass at this time.

Again, the CDC is a good source of information and helpful practices.  Resources for your home are available on the CDC Website.

©2020 Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph