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Bishop Hying speaks on suspension of public Masses Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
Bishop Hying
Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison addresses the media on March 17 after his decision to suspend public celebration of Masses in response to guidelines to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- Speaking about his March 16 decision to suspend the celebration of public Masses in the Diocese of Madison, as a result of guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Bishop Donald J. Hying told the media, "As a Catholic bishop, that's the hardest thing that I could possibly do, because for us as Catholics, Mass is everything."

Bishop Hying addressed the media at a press conference on March 17 at Holy Name Heights in Madison.

The day before, in a letter to priests and faithful of the Diocese of Madison, the bishop suspended the Mass through Friday, April 3.

The suspension includes Sunday and weekday Masses at all parish churches, oratories, and chapels.

He asked priests to still celebrate Masses in their parishes, but privately, without an assembly.

The bishop said the decision was made "in tandem" with his fellow bishops in Wisconsin "in light of our concern and in light of the government's regulations regarding public gatherings."

Bishop Hying said following the lifting of the suspension on April 3, the Diocese of Madison will reassess the situation in the week before Holy Week.

"It's hard to say what will come," Bishop Hying said.

Profound solidarity

Bishop Hying reiterated many times that the diocese is in "solidarity" with all those who are suffering because of the coronavirus.

"We think of those who have already died. We think of those who are ill with the virus. We think of their family and friends. We think all of us who, in one way or another, have been profoundly affected by this pandemic," he said.

The bishop added, "In this moment, I really want to call on all of us to be supportive of the poor and of the marginalized. We think of all the at-risk communities who this virus will affect in very profound ways. So, any way that we can continue to support them and support the mission of the Church, realizing of course that many people are going to be challenged economically and spiritually and psychologically by this pandemic."

Faith and trust

The bishop also reiterated that churches will remain open for private prayer and priests will be available for Confessions.

Liturgies for weddings, funerals, and Baptisms will still be celebrated, but priests will need to work with families to limit attendance at these events to fewer than 10 people and to take other necessary health precautions.

To keep Sundays holy, Bishop Hying encouraged the faithful to read the Sunday Scripture readings, watch Mass on television or online, pray the Rosary or Divine Office, and "really dedicate the day to prayer and to meditation".

He added that "the best thing that parishioners can do is come to church in times when the parish church is open" and "rededicate themselves to prayer and to trust in the Lord," and he encouraged everyone to pray for priests and those who are sick.

Communicating a message of trust, Bishop Hying said, "In the end, we know that God will get us through this. This is a moment of challenge. It's also a moment of invitation for us to really trust in God and to call on him to heal us of this virus and drive it from us. It's a moment of solidarity where we realize, in a deeper way, how much we need God and how much we need each other. It calls for a faith and trust."

You can read the full text of the bishop's letter about suspending public celebration of Masses here.

 
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