Liturgies During COVID-19
The celebration of liturgies with the people has resumed in the Diocese of Tyler with health protocols and other required measures to protect the vulnerable and mitigate the risk of resurgence in our communities. Taking proper precautions to protect others is a Christian obligation of both justice and charity.
The coronavirus remains a highly contagious disease. We know now that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk.
Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in these protocols. The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities. We must continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable.
UPDATE: Bishop Strickland has issued an instruction requesting all persons to wear facial coverings (masks) at liturgies in the Diocese of Tyler.
Masks at Liturgies - July 3, 2020 Update
As we continue to face the public health crisis created by COVID-19, the situation in Texas has become extremely concerning. Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. I encourage all people of goodwill to fully cooperate with this order.
With regard to churches, I am grateful that the governor’s order provides a legal exemption for religious worship, showing respect for the church-state relationship. At the same time, as faithful Catholic citizens we must do our part – not just for our own health but for the health of our families, friends, and communities. We are not exempt from our obligations to the common good, and we accept this inconvenience not out of fear, but out of charity and respect for the dignity of each person that flows from our life in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, I ask the clergy and the assembly to wear masks during public liturgical celebrations in the Diocese of Tyler. Small children and anyone with a disability that prevents wearing a mask are exempt. Clergy, readers, and cantors may temporarily remove masks while reciting the liturgical texts and scriptures, preaching, or leading song.
If we do this simple thing and embrace this small sacrifice, we can do our part to ensure that everyone stays healthy and that our churches can remain safe and open throughout this crisis.
I am thankful for the cooperation of God’s holy faithful people in East Texas and I assure all of you of my closeness in prayer.
This instruction is effective July 3, 2020, and until further notice. The instruction of April 28, 2020, regarding celebrating liturgies while facing COVID-19 also remains in effect.
+ Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler
Texas Minimum Recommended Health Protocols
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).