Coronavirus UPDATE 3/18/20


Dear Parishioners, my sons and daughters in Christ,

As I emailed you yesterday, Bishop Burbidge has issued a decree, effective immediately, cancelling most gatherings and meetings in all the parishes of the Diocese of Arlington. You can read his press release and watch a video of the Bishop here

Many of you may be disappointed in these cancelations and restrictions. I completely understand that. But those of you who have had to exercise authority in this crisis will understand that it is difficult to know the right answer in all of this. I know I struggled last week when I cancelled all social and educational events, but kept the Mass etc. going. Many parents are struggling in a similar way. The Bishop is a good man and devoted pastor, and has tried to do what he thinks he must in this tough situation. So, while some might disagree with his decision, let’s accept it with charity and respect, and pick up our cross and follow Jesus. It is, after all, Lent.

In this regard, I commend to you my homily from last Sunday, either the text or audio on the website. Although circumstances have changed, I think it may be helpful to you.

Now let me summarize what this will mean for our parish, until further notice from the Bishop. This is kind of long, but please read all the way to the bottom for important information.

Cancellations and restrictions:

– All public Masses are cancelled until further notice. (So, there are no
Masses for you to attend, even on Sunday).
– All public gatherings of more than 10 people on parish property are
– No gatherings for devotions (such as Stations of the Cross) are
–It is clear that the Bishop is cancelling all gatherings of prayer
meetings as well.
– No more than 10 persons should be present in the Church at any time
for any event (e.g. baptisms, funerals) or even for private prayer.
– All gatherings should practice social distancing, i.e., sit/stand/kneel at –
least 6 feet apart.
– Priests will normally limit visits to the sick to those who are dying and those with coronavirus who request the Sacraments.
– Communion will not be brought to any other parishioner who is
homebound or who cannot attend Mass.

What we still CAN do:

– Baptisms, funerals and weddings may be celebrated in the church, but
with a maximum attendance of 10 persons.
– The church will remain open for individual private prayer.
— The regular hours will be observed
—Again, no more than 10 people should be in the
church at any one time (please self-enforce this rule).
– Fr. Willard and I will continue to offer our daily Masses privately in the church, and will remember you all at the altar; they will not be scheduled at the regular Mass times
–Anyone who “stumbles upon” one of our private Masses may
“watch” and spiritually participate. But we will not be able to
give you Holy Communion.
– Confessions will be heard at the regular times, including the additional
confessions scheduled for Lenten (i.e., every weekday evening).
— We may announce additional times later, so stay tuned.
–We will probably move the location of confessions, but they
will still be in the church, perhaps in the sacristy or flower
room, or cry room. We will probably not hear confessions
in the confessionals, as they are very confined spaces and
not very “pre-caution” friendly;
– Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will continue as
normally scheduled: on Wednesdays (9am to 7pm) and Fridays (9am to 3pm).
– Because you will not be able to receive sacramental Holy Communion, you are encouraged to make Spiritual Communions. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it follows the doctrine that while we are bound to use the sacraments as Jesus gave them, Jesus is free to give us His grace any way He chooses. So when we can’t physically receive the Blessed Sacrament we can pray that He gives us the grace of the Sacrament spiritually. Here is a good explanation of how to do this.
– We can still keep the Lord’s Day holy by reserving a time for prayer and scripture reading (maybe an hour, like Mass). It would be best if families made a prayer time together. The Sunday readings are available here. I will also send out links to my homily, both text and audio.

Some more important info.

– I ask you to continue to join in praying the Rosary every evening at either 6pm, 7pm, 8pm or 9pm, begging Our Lord and Our Lady for an end to this crisis.
– The parish office will be open as usual.
– The priests are available to talk, meet or pray with you individually.
– If you are aware of any parishioner in need of any assistance, whether they are ill, economically challenged, need supplies, or even folks who are shut in and lonely, please let us know.
– If you would like to volunteer to help parishioners in need of assistance in some way, please let us know.
Please continue to check the parish website for updates.
– You can watch Mass on television. See some options here.
– I’m currently exploring different ways to provide spiritual consolation to you during this difficult period, so stay tuned for that information.
– We still need your generous donations to keep the parish running going forward. Very few of our expenses will go down during this period, and some of our expenses will actually go up. So I beg you to please mail (or deliver personally) your weekly offertory donation to the parish office (St. Raymond of Penafort, 8750 Pohick Road, Springfield, VA 22153) or register with Faith Direct (this would be very helpful).
– Also, the need for emergency assistance may go up in the coming days, so please consider donating for this.

Please, do not be afraid in this difficult time. Keep your eyes on Jesus and make use of all the spiritual aids that the Church and parish provide. Let us know, let me know, if there’s anything you need, spiritually, or otherwise. Know that you are in my prayers, constantly, but especially at the altar. Please pray for me, Fr. Willard, and our parish staff, and for all your fellow parishioners. And pray for the President and all government leaders; and for all the sick, especially for those sick with the coronavirus.

May Our Lady of Ransom and St. Raymond intercede for you, and may Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless you all.

Your father in the love of Christ,

Fr. De Celles                                          

Rev. John C. De Celles, STL, Pastor

St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA