HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Catholic Masses in central and southern Virginia, including Hampton Roads, have been temporarily suspended in response to growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
The announcement came Monday, March 16, and is effective immediately. More than 50 people in Virginia have tested positive for coronavirus, and two Virginians have died due to complications of the disease.
The suspension includes weekday Masses, Sunday Masses and holy days, according to a news release from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Although Masses are canceled, Catholic churches may remain open for individual prayer, according to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.
“I know there are many of our faithful who desire to attend Mass in person and this announcement will bring them great heartache. However, I feel this is a necessary step in the best interest of public health to protect against further infection. I ask the faithful to pray with me for an end to the pandemic, for the sick and all who are working to put an end to this virus,” Bishop Knestout wrote in an open letter to the community.
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond also issued the following directives to the community:
- Confirmation liturgies are suspended
- Non-essential meetings are canceled
- Wedding and funeral attendance should be limited to immediate family
- Pastoral care for the sick will continue
Priests will continue to have their own private Masses, and Bishop Knestout will livestream Sunday Masses online until COVID-19 is no longer a threat to the community. Bishop Knestout is also encouraging other parishes to livestream religious services, if they are able.
For more information about the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s response to coronavirus, visit their website here.
You can check out the coronavirus tracking map here.
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