By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
The people of the Archdiocese of Mobile have been asked to make a big sacrifice as public Masses have been suspended since mid-March due to COVID-19.
While public Masses are not yet returning, efforts to help feed the flock began May 5 as priests started celebrating Masses with fewer than 10 people inside parish churches and also began distributing the Eucharist outside parish churches.
In a video message released May 2, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi announced the steps which adhere to state orders. Alabama’s new “Safer at Home” order announced April 30 lifted some restrictions, but not on public religious services. However, meetings with fewer than 10 people in attendance are allowed.
Public Masses in the Archdiocese of Mobile have been suspended since March 18 and many have relied on watching online Masses.
“That was a very painful decision. I could not have imagined in the past ever suspending public Masses in our archdiocese,” Archbishop Rodi said in his video message. “But it was necessary. It was necessary that we make this sacrifice for the good of neighbor, for the health and (welfare) of the people around us.”
In discussing the importance of the faithful receiving the Eucharist, Archbishop Rodi said “I think this is important for us. But it only makes sense because we Catholics long for the Eucharist because we believe it is real. … For those of us who believe in the words of Jesus, ‘This is my Body, This is my Blood,’ then this is important to receive.”
The distribution of the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass with fewer than 10 people come with measures that must be in place.
No religious service may be conducted with the distribution of the Eucharist. Social distancing and sanitizing steps must also be enacted.
It was up to each parish to decide how, when or if to distribute the Eucharist as well as celebrate Mass with a limited number in attendance.
The Eucharist was distributed outside the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception by Archbishop Rodi, Vicar General and Cathedral Rector Msgr. William Skoneki and Archdiocese of Mobile Vocations Director Fr. Victor Ingalls beginning around noon May 5. About 50 people received the Eucharist during a one-hour timeframe and each person dispersed after receiving.
Because no religious service may be conducted, Archbishop Rodi recommended people pray or watch an online Mass before receiving.
“Make this a prayerful moment,” Archbishop Rodi said.
By ROB HERBST