After consultation and prayer, +Bishop James Wall hereby issues the following diocesan directives, effective immediately and indefinitely, pending further directions:
– The faithful of the Diocese of Gallup and those visiting are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and holy days of obligation.
– Churches and chapels may remain open for private prayer and exercises of devotion according to schedules set by pastors and parish administrators. The bishop encourages the faithful to intensify their prayers and pious practices. Protocols for social distancing must be observed, such as practices of maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between persons or families. The limit of 10 persons within a confined space should be maintained.
– All public Masses are suspended until further notice, including Sunday, daily Masses and all Holy Week liturgies. Other liturgical services and public devotions are also canceled. This includes Confirmations.
– All priests of the diocese are expected to continue daily celebration of the Holy Mass in private with prayers for the comfort and protection of the faithful and their communities.
– All Catholic schools are will remain closed until public schools resume classes.
– All adult and children’s religion classes are suspended.
– Special upcoming events are either canceled or postponed, including:
a. Priests’ Day of Sanctification (April 2, 2020): Bishop Wall will celebrate the Chrism Mass privately and the holy oils will be distributed to each parish.
b. Deacons’ Day on March 28th is cancelled.
– All diocesan and parish related events, meetings and gatherings are hereby suspended. This includes:
a. Routine meetings of organizations, apostolates, and study groups – suspended
b. Bingo and public meals: suspended
c. Other meetings: Only essential meetings for business purposes should be conducted. Social distancing and open meeting space is strongly recommended. No more than 10 persons.
9. Celebration of marriage or Masses of Christian burial may be done in private, but with no more than 10 people in attendance. The diocese recommends scheduling a public memorial Mass and Rosary after the crisis has passed.
10. The Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession will continue to be offered in the following way: The bishop exhorts all priests of the diocese to make available the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often and as liberally as possible. Confessional booths are not to be used until further notice. The ideal setting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be outdoors or in a large room, and one that doesn’t require the faithful to be closer than 6 feet to each other while waiting. Confessions may be heard anonymously or face to face. Bishop Wall exhorts the faithful to avail themselves to the Sacrament of Reconciliation on an ongoing basis.
Given the urgency of the coronavirus crisis, and in keeping with movement guidelines, these directives are mandatory, effective immediately.