With the suspension of public liturgies during the coronavirus pandemic, many alternative Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship opportunities are being offered for diocesan Catholics.
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will celebrate several Masses via livestream on the Catholic Courier’s YouTube channel. The liturgies will take place Palm Sunday, April 5, at 11 a.m.; Solemn Mass of Chrism. April 7, at 6 p.m.; Holy Thursday, April 9, at 6 p.m.; Good Friday, April 10, at 3 p.m.; Easter Vigil, April 11, at 7 p.m.; and Easter Sunday, April 12, at 11 a.m.
The bishop’s livestream offerings are among numerous viewing options for worship in the diocese — some as a part of ongoing efforts; others recently added by parishes. To see what’s available, visit the Catholic Courier’s website or check your parish website, bulletin or Facebook page.
In order to engage worshipers more fully in Holy Week worship while watching services remotely, the northeast Tompkins County parishes of All Saints in Lansing, Holy Cross in Freeville and St. Anthony in Groton are providing instructions for parishioners on how to do their own washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, veneration of the cross on Good Friday and candle lighting for the Easter Vigil Mass.
Another example of practicing the faith without gathering in churches this Holy Week can be seen in Wayne County, where crosses will be placed outside the churches of St. Michael, Newark; St. John the Evangelist, Clyde; St. Mary Magdalene, Wolcott; and St. Thomas the Apostle, Red Creek beginning around 4 p.m. on Good Friday. Parishioners are invited to stop by to venerate the crosses.
A number of parishes are offering palms for pickup on Palm Sunday and also will make them available during the Holy Week when the churches are open. In an April 1 letter to diocesan priests and administrators, Bishop Matano emphasized that churches may only offer palms “while ensuring appropriate social distancing and that the faithful do not assemble.” The bishop added that “If circumstances are such that the distribution of palms is not feasible ‚Ä¶ they may be properly stored and distributed at a later date, when restrictions are lifted.”
Most participating parishes are placing palms on tables for pick-up, while some are offering drive-up options. For instance, at St. Ann Church in Hornell, volunteers from the Ancient Order of Hibernians wearing protective gear will distribute palms on Palm Sunday to parishioners, who will remain in their cars. Another cautionary measure is being observed at St. Christopher Church in North Chili, where parishioners are being instructed to pick up palms between noon and 3 p.m. on Palm Sunday during 15-minute intervals based on the first letter of their last names in order to limit the number of people present at any one time.
Caution also is being emphasized for diocesan churches that remain open during designated times for private worship and confession; many have expanded their hours for Holy Week as well. (Check your parish website, bulletin or Facebook page for details.)
Bishop Matano noted in his April 1 letter that “as recent as March 20, 2020, we received clarification from state officials through the New York State Catholic Conference that ‘churches can remain open for personal prayer but not congregant services.’ As of today, this remains.”
Yet several parishes, while noting the availability of their worship spaces, are urging people to be conscious of social distancing and refrain from socializing while in church; take prudent sanitary precautions, such as using hand sanitizer when entering the church; and stay home if they are at high risk for spreading or incurring serious complications from the coronavirus.