TRENTON — Southern Ocean County Catholics may be interested in reading the recent press release by Bishop O'Connell, of the Archdiocese of Trenton. 

Archdiocese of Newark: Churches Closed this Weekend

On Thursday, the Archdiocese of Newark announced that Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, announced that he has dispensed the faithful of the Archdiocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.

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Additionally, he has suspended the public celebration of Mass for Saturday evening, March 14, and Sunday, March 15, 2020, after evaluating recommendations of state and health officials. This decision will be reviewed daily, and any new determination will be announced next week. 

Archdiocese of Trenton: Churches Open

The Archdiocese of Trenton will have their churches open this weekend.

The following message was issued by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to parishioners of the Diocese of Trenton March 12, effective immediately:

The Governor of New Jersey is recommending — not mandating — that events anticipating crowds of 250-plus people be canceled due to the potential spread of the coronavirus.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I am NOT instructing that parish churches be closed or weekend Masses be canceled in the Diocese of Trenton. All weekend Masses should be celebrated as regularly scheduled.  The Sacrament of Penance should also remain available.  Previous instructions issued regarding liturgical practices at Mass remain in effect.  

Those who are feeling sick or are in high risk groups should not celebrate or attend Mass and should stay home.

At the same time, I am granting a DISPENSATION from the OBLIGATION to attend weekend/Sunday Mass to all the Catholic faithful until further notice.  Mass will still be offered in parishes for those who choose or who are able to attend.  Otherwise, I recommend that the faithful pray and take advantage of/participate in Holy Mass that is broadcast on television.

Pastors should consider canceling other large gatherings of the faithful in parish churches or venues out of an abundance of caution. Families should be asked to limit attendance at other sacramental celebrations (e.g., Baptism, Confirmation) to immediate family only.

In light of the endurance of the virus on frequently touched surfaces – doors, pews, holy water fonts, etc. – please consider frequent, proper cleaning of these surfaces in our churches.

I cannot anticipate every (“what if …”) question that might be asked. I simply instruct pastors and priests to use the very best judgment possible and to keep informed of any developments as they arise.