Starting Monday, March 16, all daily and Sunday Masses in the Diocese of San Diego that includes Imperial Valley will be canceled and diocesan Catholic schools will be closed.
Churches will remain open, however, for parishioners and others who wish to pray and seek spiritual assistance.
A decision on when Masses will resume and schools will reopen will be made in coordination with state and local public health authorities. The decision came after the state-mandated the gatherings of 250 people or more be canceled.
In a letter to priests, Bishop Robert McElroy explained his decision:
“I have no need to tell you of the dislocations, legitimate concerns and misplaced fear that are burdening our parishioners and families these days concerning COVID-19. Being on the ground, you know these realities far more deeply and personally than I do. The public health response in our society is changing daily, and it is essential that the Church moves in tandem with prudent efforts to stop the spread of this pandemic,” Bishop McElroy said.
The Bishop added that all Catholics in the Diocese of San Diego are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during the coming weeks.
Effective Monday morning, March 16, no public daily or weekend Masses will be held. Parishes are encouraged to keep churches open longer hours for personal visitation, intermittent recitations of the Rosary, and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
All parish and diocesan schools and religious education programs will be suspended effective this Monday. The Diocesan School Office is notifying the schools of this suspension. The Office has in prior days sent to the schools substantive materials for long-distance learning for use during the suspension.
The dioceses will be providing video-streamed Sunday Masses celebrated by priests and bishops of our diocese in English, Spanish and Vietnamese every week. Parishioners can access these celebrations by linking to the diocesan website at sdcatholic.org starting this Sunday.
“It is vital that we proceed with a blend of prudent concern for public health and the spiritual mission that lies at the heart of the Church and is especially vital in these days,” the Bishop told his priests. “I give thanks once again for all of the services which you render to the Church, especially in moments like this.”
The diocese remains in close touch with State and County public health authorities and will continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice available.