PROVIDENCE —In light of the growing coronavirus crisis in Rhode Island, in response to the request of public officials, and upon the recommendation of health experts, I hereby direct that the celebration of all public Masses and other liturgical services be suspended in the Diocese of Providence effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and continuing until further notice.
The celebration of funerals and weddings may continue, but must be celebrated without Mass using approved liturgical forms. Every effort should be made to limit the size of the congregation to necessary participants only and the health precautions previously announced by the Diocese of Providence and the State of Rhode Island should be carefully followed.
To the extent possible, churches should remain open during the day for personal prayer, devotions and visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Individual confessions may also be heard during this time.
This is an exceedingly difficult and painful decision, but it is necessitated by our commitment to promote the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters, especially the frail and the elderly. That is a moral priority we should all share. May we continue to pray for and support one another in these very trying times, and through the intercession of Saint Patrick, Saint Joseph and Our Lady of Providence, may God be with us.