NEWARK, NJ — Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, has announced that all public celebrations of daily and Sunday Mass will be suspended until further notice, effective March 18. This decision is an extension of the Archdiocese’s recent announcement, in which Tobin dispensed the faithful of the Archdiocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.
“This decision comes after exhaustive discussion and with an especially heavy heart,” Tobin said. “It is critical that all comply with this directive to protect the health of all throughout the archdiocese and beyond. Please be assured of my continued prayers for you and for the communities we serve. During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Archdiocese of Newark, I ask for your cooperation and leadership as we mobilize the resources and support needed to care for all in our communities. Our Eucharistic fast continues, as we pray for its quick end.”
According to a press release from the Archdiocese, the Archdiocesan Coronavirus Task Force carefully assesses the situation each day and comprises clergy, religious and lay leaders, and medical professionals. The task force evaluates statements and direction from state and local officials to determine the most appropriate course of action in maintaining safe and healthy environments.
Under Tobin’s directive, all public celebrations of the sacraments and other public forms of worship are also suspended until further notice. This includes, but is not limited to, previously scheduled Confirmations, celebrations of First Communion, penitential services, Communion services, and Liturgies of the Word.
The following exceptions are permitted:
- Baptisms, funerals, burial services and previously scheduled weddings are permitted; however, attendance must be limited to a maximum of 10 participants, including the celebrant. The celebrant should consider carefully with the next of kin or wedding couple who will attend. Celebrants also should remind families that the same limitations are being applied across all relevant Archdiocesan institutions, including Catholic cemeteries.
- The Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation will remain available, as needed. The celebrant should take every prudent precaution where indicated, such as use of gowns, masks and gloves. A priest may use a cotton-tipped swab or cotton ball as an instrument to anoint the sick person.
Parishes are encouraged to expose the Blessed Sacrament and remain open for private prayer for the faithful. Clergy should continue to remind the faithful to maintain a prudent distance from one another. Other safety precautions include the removal of holy water from fonts.
While public Masses are suspended, celebrations of Mass will continue online. Parishes are encouraged to livestream private Masses and provide resources via social media channels to help parishioners continue to experience spiritual union and to observe the Lord’s Day.
Parishes also are advised to suspend all office activity for a period of at least two weeks. Pastors may consult local officials to determine the most appropriate course of action, and employees who provide essential services are permitted to carry out their duties according to the determination of the pastor.
In addition, all Archdiocese of Newark Catechetical education and events sponsored by the Catholic Youth Organization are suspended, and all Catholic Schools remain closed as directed by the state of New Jersey.