Catholic Diocese of Richmond suspends public masses in wake of coronavirus pandemic


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s unclear when mass will be held again at Saint Peter Catholic Church in downtown Richmond. 8News on Monday caught up with parishioners moments before the Diocese of Richmond suspended all public mass and confirmations.

In the days prior to Virginia’s restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus, the diocese made multiple changes for mass. Despite them, Don McCall said going to mass is a good thing.

“Particularly when people are fearful, so I have to hear the message so I know not to be fearful,” McCall said.

“As shepherd, I must balance the health and wellbeing of the community, ensuring we are cooperating with the common good, with continuing with the mission of our Church,” said Bishop Knestout. “I know there are many of our faithful who desire to attend Mass in person and this announcement will bring them great heartache. However, I feel this is a necessary step in the best interest of public health to protect against further infection. I ask the faithful to pray with me for an end to the pandemic, for the sick and all who are working to put an end to this virus.”

Bishop Knestout

Father Gino Rossi’s homily touched on the fear surrounding coronavirus. 

“Don’t ever forget that when your soul is healthy, that goes a very long way to making your body healthy,” Father Rossi said.

The newest direction from the diocese to suspend all public mass notes that churches can remain open for individual prayer.

“To be able to get to church every day, it feels like you’re just renewed all over again,” Cathy Van Pelt said.

The diocese says Bishop Knestout will live stream a private Sunday mass for the foreseeable future. Parishes with the capability of ivestreaming are encouraged to do the same.

What about weddings and funerals? The diocese says they can go on with attendance limited to immediate family members. However, such gatherings should not exceed 50 people.

The diocese has created a webpage with information, helpful resources and communications within the diocese. You can find the information here.

Bishop Knestout also offered the following recommendations:

  • All Confirmation liturgies are suspended until further notice.
  • All weddings and funerals should continue with the attendance limited to immediate family members. The numbers should not exceed 50 people.
  • Pastoral care by priests for the sick remains of the utmost importance during this time and will continue.
  • Churches should remain open for individual private prayer, but gatherings of multiple individuals for prayer are discouraged.
  • Non-essential meetings are cancelled. If an essential meeting is needed, it should not exceed 50 people.
  • Priests will continue to celebrate their own private Masses daily to pray for their parishioners and the diocese.
  • Bishop Knestout will livestream private celebration of Sunday Masses for the foreseeable future.
  • Parishes with similar livestream capabilities are encouraged to do the same for their parishioners.


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