On March 15, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following day parishes in the Diocese of Richmond, instructed by Bishop Barry C. Knestout, suspended all public celebrations of Mass.
Fortunately, to date, only two out of the Diocese’ 138 churches have temporarily closed. The balance remain open for private prayer, and encourage parishioners to come to the Church for prayer and the sacrament of Reconciliation. This is in contrast to neighboring businesses, schools and libraries, many of which have had to shuttered their doors completely.
March 17 witnessed further state restrictions as Northam gave police authority to enforce bans on gatherings larger than 10 people.
The comfort of Sunday Mass with fellow parishioners to worship in “Our” parishes has been replaced with family meetings around the kitchen table or kneeling by the bedside. Moreover, the faithful now have an abundance of time to reflect upon family needs and those of the Church.
How can we help our local parishes?
Without parishioners’ generosity at Sunday Mass, local parishes cannot sustain themselves for very long. However, in this age of iPhones and laptops, giving on any day of the week is a click away.
For years, some parishes, such as St. Patrick in Richmond, have maintained an “e-giving,” presence on their websites, giving parishioners the ability to donate simply by visiting online.
During the COVID-19 restriction period, the Diocese of Richmond has created a special “Support Our Parishes” web page which can be found at https://offertory.richmonddiocese.org/ and a social media outreach program “I GIVE ONLINE” with #SupportOurParishes. There, donations can be accepted on behalf of local parishes with 100% of the funds going back to the church selected.
Parishioners are encouraged to stay connected
St. Andrew Parish, Roanoke, has implemented Live Streaming of Mass as a way to reach out and share Holy Week liturgies with parishioners. On their website St. Andrews advertises Masses for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. With it is an invitation for virtual giving.
As Holy Week approaches, the faithful will undoubtedly reflect upon the sacrifice of Jesus and how it relates to the current trials many are suffering. Local parishes are working hard to continue to serve their communities. Parishioners now have a number of options to bridge the gap between their living rooms and the Living Church.
Whatever your parish, please remember to support it — and to do so generously. Your parish community is there for you; during this challenging time, please be there for your parish community. https://offertory.richmonddiocese.org/