COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Information for Parishes and Parishioners
Please note: We will be posting updates as the national and statewide situations surrounding the virus continue to evolve.
Latest Updates from New Mexico
March 18: Public Health Emergency Order Limiting Mass Gatherings
March 13: New Mexico guarantees free COVID-19 testing and treatment for New Mexicans
March 12: Health secretary issues public health order suspending mass gatherings in New Mexico
Latest Updates from Arizona
March 11: Arizona will waive deductibles, copays related to COVID-19 testing
March 11: Governor Ducey, ADHS Director Dr. Christ Announce Declaration Of Emergency, Executive Order To Protect Public Health
March 24: Updated and Clarified Diocesan Directives
March 22: Updates on the State of the Coronavirus in the Diocese of Gallup
March 18: Directives for Operation of Church Offices
March 17: Diocese to suspend public Masses until further notice; certain events cancelled or postponed
March 16, 2020: AZ Schools to close, following the example of local governments
March 15, 2020: Daily Update (no major changes, but includes the prayer for the day)
March 14, 2020: Clarification on weddings, confirmation and other events in the diocese
March 13, 2020: The Little Sisters of the Poor will temporarily suspend public visits to their home for the elderly in Gallup
March 13, 2020: Bishop dispenses all faithful from Sunday obligation; Schools in NM will close for three weeks
March 12, 2020 – Mandatory and Recommended Guidelines for Parishes
Latest Updates from the Diocese
Bishop James Wall has made the following directives effective immediately for the Diocese of Gallup. These are temporary but prudent based on the information available out of concern and respect for the safety of all. Changes will be required as the situation develops.
Obligation to attend Sunday Mass
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:
- 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.
- Deacons’ Day on March 28th is Cancelled.
- All diocesan and parish related events, meetings and gatherings are hereby suspended. This includes:
- Routine meetings of organizations, apostolates, and study groups – suspended
- Bingo and public meals: suspended
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The catholic schools of the Diocese of Gallup in both states are closed, and will follow the schedule of local public schools. Specific directives follow:
- All diocese of Gallup schools will follow the response procedure of their public-school counterparts.
- All our schools should gear up and implement alternative instruction/learning plans and be prepared for make-ups as we do even on days of inclement weather (snow days).
- Refer to stipulations in our policy handbook number 5215 regarding emergency closures.
- Please check the CDC website and follow all guidelines about cleaning of classrooms and entire school for the safe return of students and staff.
Directives and Suggestions for Church Offices
Please know that the staff of the Diocese of Gallup are monitoring multiple information sources to assess the situation as it develops. Restrictions will be reduced as soon as the conditions warrant. After continued assessment and prayer, +Bishop James Wall, hereby issues the following diocesan directives, effective immediately and indefinitely, pending further directions:
Everyone is urged to keep informed about the status of the COVID19 disease in their county and vicinity. For church business operation, the guidance for businesses issued by the local authorities should be followed. The following instruction is in effect in all New Mexico and for Navajo County in Arizona. Churches in other counties of Arizona should also comply if any cases of the disease are subsequently reported in their county. Other protective actions are left to the discretion of the Pastor or Administrator:
- Routine operations should be curtailed to minimize contact between people. This may mean closure of the church office to the public.
- A sign should be posted with emergency contact telephone numbers if the office is closed or hours are reduced.
- As possible, telephones should be manned during some portion of the day to keep communication open. Answering systems need to be activated to allow for messaging.
- Any employee at increased susceptibility for infection (over 60 years of age or medically compromised) should be released to stay home.
- As feasible, set up arrangements for administrative employees to work from home.
- Employees who can do their duties without interaction with the public or a lot of interaction with other employees may still work on site with due caution for distancing and good hygiene practices.
- To the extent possible, employees should have continued pay, even if they are not allowed to work. Their duty assignment is home.
- Charitable work should continue to the extent possible without causing undue risk to staff and volunteers or creating a gathering of too many persons.
- Holy Water removed from the hand fonts
- Remove all books, missals and loose objects from the pews.
- Procedures must be in place for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to sanitize their hands before and after distribution of Holy Communion.
- Currently, all members of the faithful are dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass. This dispensations will continue until such time as the course and risk of the COVID-19 disease can be better discerned.
Strongly recommended actions:
- Hand sanitizer dispensers available at the doors of the church