UPDATED INFORMATION AS OF MARCH 29, 2020:
PUBLIC CELEBRATIONS OF MASS AND OTHER EVENTS REMAIN SUSPENDED THROUGHOUT THE DIOCESE
STAY-AT HOME ORDER REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE STATE OF INDIANA
BISHOP RHOADES RENEWS HIS DISPENSATION FROM MASS FOR AS LONG AS THE SUSPENSION CONTINUES
PLEASE READ THE STATEMENT BELOW
Dear People of God,
Effective on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, all public Masses as well as other public liturgies and activities at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Angola and at St. Paul’s Catholic Chapel at Clear Lake are suspended. This suspension is in effect until further notice. At the same time, Bishop Rhoades renews his standing dispensation for all Catholics of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend from any obligation to attend Mass for as long as this suspension might last.
These measures are announced in obedience to a decision by Bishop Kevin Rhoades and the other Catholic bishops in Indiana. The bishops took this difficult decision to suspend public Masses for the protection of the people in the face of an escalating coronavirus pandemic. As bishop Rhoades put it, “As Catholics, we must do our part.”
Not being able to attend Mass is a serious difficulty both spiritually and emotionally, since the Eucharist and the Sunday assembly are rightfully “the source and summit” of Catholic faith. We are reminded of the words given to us by the prophet Daniel in today’s Mass reading: “We have been reduced, oh Lord. We have in our day no place to gather to worship you and offer sacrifice … But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received. This is the sacrifice you want. So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly. And now we follow you with our whole heart.” (Daniel 3:37-41)
Fr. Bob and the other Franciscans promise that Mass will be celebrated quietly – although we cannot allow that parishioners attend, the friars will offer up a Mass every day during the time of the containment measures. Bishop Rhoades also wants to assure the people that weddings, baptisms and funerals will continue to be celebrated, even though we must limit the number of people. The regular confession time is cancelled, but Fr. Bob and the other friars will be available to schedule a confession (the idea is to avoid having people congregate). The church will be open most every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for private prayer.
I encourage you to read the full statements from Fr. Bob, from Bishop Rhoades and from the diocesan worship office. Bishop Rhoades, especially, gives some good guidelines for how to make a spiritual communion.
May the Lord accept our heartfelt sacrifice as we offer up these experiences as a prayer of intercession for all those affected by the disease.
Fr. Bob Showers OFM Conv., pastor