Following health directives, Diocese of Fort Worth celebrates Mass without a congregation

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

March 18, 2020

Empty pews at St. Patrick Cathedral on March 22, 2020. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)Empty pews at St. Patrick Cathedral on March 22, 2020. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)
Empty pews at St. Patrick Cathedral on March 22, 2020. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


FORT WORTH — In cooperation with the latest directives from state and local officials, Bishop Michael Olson has asked that Mass no longer be celebrated publicly with a congregation present in the parishes and institutions of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“The present declaration that gatherings of groups larger than 10 people are prohibited for the sake of public health has made it impossible for us to celebrate Mass with a congregation present,” Bishop Olson said in a pastoral letter March 18.

Priests will continue to celebrate daily Mass in the sanctuary of their parish churches at the scheduled times, but without a congregation in attendance. The priest will offer each Mass for the requested intention.

Recognizing that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” the bishop directed parishes to make Holy Communion available outside of church after Mass in designated spaces, while observing safe social distancing.

Catholics can join in prayer and spiritual Communion with the Body of Christ each Sunday at 11 a.m., when Mass will be livestreamed from St. Patrick Cathedral on the Diocese of Fort Worth website, fwdioc.org.

Bishop Olson emphasized, “The circumstances current in our community are such that attendance at Mass borders on an impossibility, and thus there is no obligation to attend.”

He continued, “We have a responsibility to carry out the mission of the Church, which is the salvation of souls. Mass will go on, but we will do it in a way that safeguards all of us. Our responsibilities remain; this [coronavirus pandemic] just changes the circumstances.”

Bishop Olson directed priests to open churches for individual Adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, with scheduled opportunities for Reconciliation behind a screen. He requested prayers “for the intention of the nation’s safety and for the healing of the sick.”

Throughout the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Olson has urged Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Worth to remember the poor and vulnerable. With that objective in mind, he asked pastors and Catholic leaders to cooperate with local food banks and Catholic Charities Fort Worth to provide drive-through pickup of food for those in need.

The bishop also requested that priests make efforts for the distribution of the Holy Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to those who are ill.

“Let us pray for each other and for the gifts of fortitude and wisdom to persevere through these challenging times. God is always present and will never abandon us,” he said.

Bishop Olson elevates the Eucharist

FORT WORTH — In cooperation with the latest directives from state and local officials, Bishop Michael Olson has asked that Mass no longer be celebrated publicly with a congregation present in the parishes and institutions of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Published (until 3/18/2035)