Bishop Olson responds to Tarrant County’s stay at home order

by North Texas Catholic

North Texas Catholic

March 24, 2020

a woman watches Mass on livestreama woman watches Mass on livestream
A woman watches Mass on livestream. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


FORT WORTH — In a March 24, 2020 statement, Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth responded to the executive order given earlier that day by Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, which declared a county-wide disaster and public health emergency and directed residents to stay at home except for essential business and crucial errands.

In his statement, the bishop noted the faithful’s great love for the Eucharist, then stated, “Out of this same love for our neighbor and in cooperation with the latest order by our civic officials to ‘stay at home,’ I am hereby directing that the most recent practice of the public distribution of the Eucharist after Masses without a congregation be stopped for the time being.”

Masses will continue, however. In the 91 parishes of the diocese, scheduled Masses will be celebrated “sine populo” — without a congregation present.

Many of those daily and Sunday Masses in the diocese are livestreamed. A schedule can be found at fwdioc.org/diocesan-parishes-live-stream-schedule-3-23.pdf. The bishop encouraged the priests and those participating through the livestream to pray the Act of Spiritual Communion aloud together. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may also be livestreamed.

As the coronavirus pandemic has developed, Bishop Olson has sought to maintain the sacramental life of the Church while adhering to civic guidelines that mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.

After making liturgical adaptations for the flu season on January 10, Bishop Olson, in consultation with clergy and civic leaders, made additional adaptations to cooperate with directives by health and government authorities. The weekend of March 14-15, Mass size was limited to 250 persons. On March 21-22, Mass was celebrated sine populo, and the Holy Eucharist was distributed outside the church after Mass while observing social distancing protocols.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the bishop has encouraged the faithful of the diocese to respond with “solidarity, justice, and prudence, in rejecting selfish fear and embracing our responsibility to love our neighbor, especially the vulnerable, for the sake of peace and the common good of our society.”

Fr. Sojan George celebrates Mass sine populoFr. Sojan George celebrates Mass sine populo
Father Sojan George Puthiyaparampil, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grapevine, celebrates Mass while a livestream is being done on March 21, 2020. (NTC/Joseph Barringhaus)


His March 24 statement reiterated that a priority must be placed on “the sick, the elderly, the infirm, and also the pastoral care of first responders and medical personnel.”

The prelate said these “uncharted” days require “of the faithful a spirit of generosity and gratitude to avail themselves of spiritual Communion and other acts of devotion to sustain themselves for both spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 160 countries have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Texas Department of State and Health Services statistics show Tarrant County as having 35 confirmed coronavirus cases as of March 24. Denton County, also in the boundaries of the Diocese of Fort Worth, has 20 cases.

Bishop Olson also noted that out of concern for all Catholics during the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy Father announced three special plenary indulgences: for people with COVID-19; for those who care for them, including family members and medical staff; and for those who pray for them.

“Pope Francis is keenly aware of the great difficulty in many places for the faithful to regularly receive the grace of the sacraments,” Bishop Olson said. “Indeed, the Holy Father has great concern especially for those who find themselves unable to receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of viaticum, and entrusts them in a unique way to the mercy of the Lord and to the prayers of all members of the Church.”

A plenary indulgence, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, remits all temporal punishment due to sin. To obtain the indulgence, a faithful Christian must be completely detached from all sin and fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence, which are sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope.

Details about obtaining the indulgences are included in Bishop Olson’s March 24 statement.

The bishop thanked the clergy and laity of the diocese for being “inconvenienced with joy” for the common good of our community. He stated, “Solidarity based in communion in the love of God is the way forward for all of us.”
 

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

Father Sojan George celebrates Mass sine populo

FORT WORTH — In a March 24, 2020 statement, Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth responded to the executive order given earlier that day by Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, which declared a county-wide disaster and public health emergency and directed residents to stay at home except for essential business and crucial errands.

Published (until 3/24/2035)