As the situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to develop, it may affect activities within St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, and St. Francis parishes. Watch this page, as well as the St. Mary’s Facebook page, for updates.
Friday, 3/27: New update from Bishop Warfel: Due to Governor Bullock’s shelter-in-place” order, the suspension on public Masses will continue until further notice. Private Masses will continue to be live streamed, including (if necessary) the Liturgy of Good Friday and Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday. We are still permitted to keep the church open for private prayer, as well as make the Sacrament of Confession available, but Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is suspended.
Thursday, 3/26: Pope Francis will grant a special blessing to the world, known as Urbi et Orbi, tomorrow morning, March 27th, at 11 AM Mountain Time. You can watch this via the website for Vatican News.
Monday, 3/16, update 3: In further reading Bishop Warfel’s letter, he has asked, “Public celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, in-person Bible study groups (or other devotional gatherings) are suspended until the public celebration of Mass resumes. All parish meetings and gatherings of any sort likewise are cancelled.” This means that trivia and adult education have also been cancelled.
Monday, 3/16, update 2: Bishop Warfel has released his final decision, and has decided to suspend public Masses until Monday, March 30. This decision takes effect immediately, so this evening’s 5:30 PM Mass will not be celebrated publicly. All Catholics within the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Fr. Cory will continue to celebrate Mass daily, and will set up livestream Masses as soon as possible.
St. Mary’s Church will remain open as normal for private prayer. Confessions will be available as previously scheduled, though some small accommodations will have to be made for the so-called “social distancing” necessary to help control the spread of illness.
Monday, 3/16: After consultation with the priests, Bishop Warfel has once again stated his desire not to suspend public Masses until absolutely necessary, so our Masses will continue as previously scheduled. Bishop will issue a dispensation from the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation for all Catholics, though he emphasizes the importance of attending Mass at least once a week as possible. Those who are most at risk for COVID-19, such as those over 60 and those with compromised immune systems, are highly recommended to avoid communal and social gatherings, including Mass.
Pastors have been given latitude for postponing or cancelling meetings. Due to the State of Montana’s closure of public schools, and the Catholic schools’ following their lead, we have decided to place Religious Education on hold until the schools reopen. Also, this month’s Drinking the Spirit, previously scheduled for March 24th, has been canceled. At this time, we will continue Thursday night Trivia at Blue Ridge Brewery, as well as the adult education class on Salvation held Tuesday at Noon.
It’s highly encouraged that all review the CDC recommendations regarding preventing the spread of contagion. Of special note is social space, leaving at least 6 feet between people at communal gatherings, and not holding hands or shaking hands. This includes during the Our Father and when greeting others.
Friday, 3/13: Bishop Warfel has issued an update from his previous letter of precautions (see below). At this time, there have been no cancellations of Masses, meetings, or other gatherings in the diocese. There is a reminder of proper hygiene that can prevent the spread of disease. Much of the letter is to set up procedures if the need arises to begin restricting events or outright cancel all public events and activities.
Tuesday, 3/10: Bishop Michael Warfel has issued a letter of precautions surrounding Coronavirus and regular practices in our parishes. Much of this is preparation in case the situation worsens, as well as “best practices” to prevent the spread of the disease. He also reminds us of how to properly receive Holy Communion. The most notable parts of the letter: Bishop has suspended distribution of the Precious Blood via the chalice and physical contact during the Sign of Peace, and asks that collection baskets not be passed. Also all who are sick or begin to feel ill are dispensed from Mass attendance.