COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

Update 3/30/20 – From Fr. John Connaughton

Just a brief update today to inform you that we will resume our scheduled hours of adoration during the week, as posted on our homepage. We will expose the Blessed Sacrament M-F from 12-1pm and then again in the evenings from 7-8pm, except for Wednesdays when it will go from 7:30-9pm with confessions. Please consider making a visit to the church and pray that this might be a time in which the faith is reawakened and renewed.

Update 3/27/20 – From Fr. John Connaughton

Per doctor’s orders I have to remain in isolation for a few more days. Thank you to everyone who has been so thoughtful in their prayers for my speedy recovery, I do appreciate it.

With regard to the church schedule this weekend, the Church of St. Cecilia will be open from 7am-6pm both days, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration on Saturday from 4-6pm and on Sunday from 8am-12. Fr. Mariusz told me that he will be available for confessions on Saturday from 4-6 and on Sunday from 10-12. I’m very grateful to him for his willingness to serve the people of the parish so generously while I’m out of commission. If you see him, please be sure to thank him.

I hope to be able to post Sunday Mass this weekend. I think I’ve figured out a way to do it so that Anh does not have to be present. We’ll see how it goes. On Sunday I will let you know what the schedule will be for the week ahead.

Finally, I want to say a BIG thank you to all of you who have signed up for online giving or have mailed your weekly offerings to the parish office. It is a huge help.

Update 3/25/20 – From Fr. John Connaughton

This morning, Bishop Caggiano issued a letter to the clergy of the Diocese of Bridgeport informing us that he has decided to extend the suspension of public Masses to April 30. This means that the celebration of Holy Week will not be public this year. I share your sadness at this news, and I know the Bishop is profoundly disappointed as well. He has suggested to his pastors that we livestream the liturgies of the Triduum so that you might participate from home. We will try to do that for you.

I would ask that you keep in your prayers the two women who were going to be received into the Church at Easter. This news is particularly hard for them. The Bishop has set the Vigil of Pentecost (5/30) as the tentative date on which catechumens would be baptized, confirmed, and receive first Holy Communion.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that upon the advice of my doctor, I will be self-quarantining in my room for the next couple of days. I have a slight fever, but no respiratory issues, sore throat, or cough, etc. To be clear: I have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 and I do not have most of the symptoms associated with it. The self-quarantine is a precaution advised by my physician. As for supplies and food, we’ve got plenty of stuff stockpiled here at the rectory to last us for a while.

My self-quarantine will affect the daily schedule in the parish, I’m afraid. There will be no noon-1pm hour of adoration today (3/25) and no adoration this Thursday & Friday (3/26-7). The church will remain open, however, for personal devotion from 7am-8pm. This evening, Fr. Mariusz will have adoration & confessions from 7:30-9pm at the Church of St. Cecilia as normal. On Friday I will get an update from my doctor and will make a decision about the weekend schedule then.

Update 3/18/20 – From Fr. John Connaughton

Today, Bishop Caggiano issued guidelines regarding the sacrament of Confession and Eucharistic Adoration. These guidelines permit and encourage the offering of sacramental Confession and the important devotion of Eucharistic Adoration. Thus, we will continue to have our regularly-scheduled Wednesday night Adoration with Confessions at St. Cecilia Church from 7:30-9pm, including tonight. Confessions will be offered in the choir practice room located behind the shrine of St. Joseph. The configuration will be different than normal, but it should work just fine! In order to observe the civil mandate that prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people, please be considerate of each other if you decide to make a visit to Our Lord on Wednesday nights.

Stay tuned for more information about additional opportunities in the parish for confessions and Eucharistic Adoration. I hope to have that worked out tomorrow.

Update 3/17/20 – From Fr. John Connaughton

Dear Parishioners and Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

With Bishop Caggiano’s recent decree in which he cancelled all public celebrations of Mass until 4/3/20, we will also be suspending all parish events and gatherings during that time. This suspension will include Stations of the Cross and Wednesday evening Adoration & Confessions.

In order to provide the faithful with the opportunity to pray in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Church of St. Cecilia will remain open from 7am-8pm each day. Bishop Caggiano is expected to issue guidelines for the Sacrament of Confession tomorrow (3/18/20). When those guidelines are made available, we will schedule times for Confession accordingly.

The parish office will be closed to the public, but the staff will be working during normal hours and they will be available to parishioners and other inquirers by email or phone.

Update 3/16/20 – Message from Bishop Caggiano

The Following is from the Bishop’s message on 3/16/20

On 3/15/20 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] issued a recommendation that, for the next 8 weeks, any in-person gatherings of 50 people or more throughout the United States be cancelled or postponed. Governor Lamont today followed that directive and has limited crowds to less than 50 in the State of Connecticut. In response to this decree by the civil authorities, I would like to inform you of some important new directives that will be binding throughout the Diocese.

  • Parishes – effective this evening (3/16/20) at 8pm, all weekday and Sunday public Masses celebrated in the presence of the lay faithful are temporarily suspended in the Diocese of Bridgeport. This will remain in effect until Friday, April 3. You will receive a confirmation or revision of that date on Monday, March 30. Churches may remain open for private prayer at the discretion of the Pastor. This may include silent Eucharistic Adoration. On Wednesday (3/18/20) I will be sending you suggestions and further guidance about how to keep your parishioners connected to the Eucharist and to the parish during this period. Beginning on Sunday (3/22/20) Sunday Mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano or Monsignor Powers will be available on our Diocesan Website http://www.bridgeportdiocese.org
  • Baptisms – Baptisms may be postponed to a later date in the spring or summer. Parents who do not wish to delay the sacrament will be accommodated. Attendance of the baptism should be limited to immediate family members, grandparents, and godparents.
  • Weddings and Funerals – celebrations of weddings and funerals may continue, but the Rites should be celebrated outside of Mass. Guests should be limited to immediate family and close friends only and their number must be less than 50 people. Pastors should see that a Mass for the Dead is celebrated in private for the deceased at the nearest possible date following death, or, if the family desires, a public memorial Mass could be celebrated at a later date for the repose of the soul of the deceased and the consolation of the family.

Update 3/13/20 – Letter from Bishop Caggiano

To:                  All Clergy and Diocesan Officials                 

From:              Bishop Frank J. Caggiano                  

Re:                   COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

Date:               March 13, 2020

As you know, many throughout Fairfield County – both Catholics and non-Catholics – look to the Church for leadership, especially in moments like the one we are currently facing. It is important that we, as a Catholic community of faith, remain faithful to who we are and place the celebration of the Eucharist and trust in the Lord at the forefront of all decisions. At the same time, we are also members of a larger community and have a duty to abide by civil regulations and be co-responsible in seeking the common good.

Being situated in Fairfield County, we must be especially cognizant of the unique situation we face in regard to the Coronavirus. The southern part of the Diocese neighbors Westchester County, New York, which has seen numerous outbreaks of the illness, and many of our lay faithful travel to and from New York City on a daily basis or travel to foreign countries for business. Furthermore, our County has a growing population of elderly citizens, and several cases of Coronavirus have already been identified here, most significantly the case in New Canaan, which is the first reported case of communal transmission in the State of Connecticut. 

Above any practical decisions made due to the Coronavirus, I would like to remind all of us to place all of our trust in the Lord, “who made Heaven and earth,” and to seek His help, healing and protection. This is a time, especially for those of us consecrated to the Lord, to lead by an example of confidence in His providential care and of charity to those who are in need. We should rely on all the spiritual tools we have – including the Rosary, votive Masses for times of special need, devotions – and beg for an end to this illness here and throughout the world. 

In that spirit, and given the developments over the last week, I would like to inform you of some new directives that will be binding throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Parishes

In my Memo on March 9, 2020, I asked you to inform your parishioners that anyone exhibiting flu-like or cold symptoms, the elderly and those with underlying physical conditions that would make them more susceptible to the Coronavirus are not obliged to attend Sunday Mass. Beginning this Third Sunday of Lent (March 14-15) through the Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 28-29), I am temporarily dispensing all Catholics of the Diocese of Bridgeport from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. 

I am taking this action so that anyone who may be fearful of becoming ill or of spreading illness, especially healthcare workers, caregivers to the elderly or infirmed or parents with young children, may have peace of mind in knowing that, with this provision, they do not commit mortal sin if they choose not to attend Sunday Mass. For those who decide to refrain from attending Mass on the Sundays indicated above, I would ask that they treat the Lord’s Day with the honor it deserves and try, to the best of their ability, to view Mass online or to make time to read the Scriptures for the day. 

In light of Governor Ned Lamont’s Executive Order of yesterday, which prohibits gatherings of 250 people or more throughout the State through the end of April, but makes an exemption for worship services, it may be the case that local authorities contact you to consider temporarily suspending the public celebration of Mass. Until then, there should be no changes to the public Mass schedule of any parish. Should that moment come, however, Pastors will be required to follow any ordinances or mandates published by legitimate local authorities, who have been entrusted to protect the community at large. Furthermore, if any future ban on public assemblies necessitates the suspension of public Mass, Pastors should see that all Mass intentions are fulfilled, and all priests would be expected to celebrate private Mass daily. 

I also want to repeat my strong suggestion that non-liturgical, social events scheduled to take place in the immediate weeks ahead at parishes or diocesan institutions, especially those at which the elderly may be inclined to participate, be postponed or cancelled. 

I ask all Pastors and leaders of institutions to inform the Office of the Bishop if you become aware of any major new mandates, significant decisions or closings in your respective towns of which the Diocese should be aware. 

Diocesan Schools and Academies

Beginning today, Friday, March 13, 2020, all diocesan schools and academies will be closed for a period of two weeks. In most cases, this follows the decision of towns in Fairfield County that have already closed their public schools. Unless circumstances make it otherwise, all diocesan schools and academies will reopen on Monday, March 30, 2020. School leadership and parents were informed of this decision by their local Principals. 

It should be noted that during this period students will continue to receive instruction through distance learning plans that were developed in the last two weeks by the Office of the Superintendent for just this circumstance. 

Confirmations

Because Confirmations draw large crowds of people, some of whom come from other parts of the country, I have decided that it is most prudent to postpone all parish Confirmations that are scheduled to take place before Easter Sunday. My Office will work with the Pastors of the affected parishes to reschedule the Confirmations at a later date.

Catholic Center

As of today, all large (more than five people) meetings scheduled to take place at the Catholic Center have been postponed, cancelled or will be conducted via teleconferencing. Furthermore, it may be necessary at some point in time to significantly limit the number of people working at the Catholic Center for a defined period. Those who may be asked not to report to work at the Catholic Center will work from home as best as possible. If this reduction in on-site staffing becomes necessary you will be informed accordingly, and we will do our best to respond to the needs of all diocesan institutions. 

Ongoing Communication

Beginning this Monday, March 16, 2020, I will, in collaboration with the Office of Communications, be sending regular updates on the impact of the Coronavirus on the daily life of the Diocese and the religious practice of its priests, religious and lay faithful. I ask that each one of you check your diocesan email each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for these important updates. 

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I am grateful to all of you for your diligence and cooperation as the pandemic involving the Coronavirus continues to unfold. Your leadership and clear presentation of recent diocesan directives has helped to assure parishioners that the Church takes their health and well-being very seriously.

Be assured of my daily prayers. 


Download the Word version of this letter here

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