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Celebration of Public Masses to Resume in Catholic Diocese of Richmond

Updated information:

On May 14, 2020, local leaders of the City of Richmond and the County of Accomack requested a two-week delay to enter Phase One, Governor Northam amended Executive Order 62 to delay reopening of these jurisdictions until Friday, May 29, 2020.

As a result of this new information and for the safety of all, Bishop Knestout is directing all parishes located in the City of Richmond and the County of Accomack to delay moving to Phase 1 Reopening until the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday, May 30, 2020.  This includes delaying offering public Masses.


For Immediate Release: May 15, 2020

Celebration of Public Masses to Resume in Catholic Diocese of Richmond

Masses begin May 23rd on the Sunday Vigil of the Feast of the Ascension

(RICHMOND, Va.) – Catholics throughout the Diocese of Richmond will resume celebrating Mass in their parishes the weekend of May 23. Celebration of Masses had been suspended since March 22, 2020, in the diocese due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“We have been in the diocese planning for some time to find ways to provide the sacraments and Masses but with limitations to keep the safety and well-being of all in consideration. We expect a gradual opening due to the size and difference of our parishes within each locality and given individual parish circumstances,” says Bishop Barry C. Knestout. “Our guidelines have been developed based on state and public health protocols and based on current circumstances so the protocols may change over time.”

Guidelines sent to priests on May 13 by the diocese’s Office of Preparation detail instructions and guidance to parishes, including social distancing of six feet and the wearing of face coverings by all congregants ages 3 and older. For further specific directives and guidelines, see “Return to Mass Guidelines. What You Need to Know.”

The reopening follows Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 61 that allows places of worship to have services for up to 50% of the lowest occupancy of the church’s worship area and other recommended guidelines.

During this time, Bishop Knestout continues to dispense Catholics from the obligation of attending Mass on Sundays and holy days. The dispensation is due to the capacity limit for liturgies which is reducing the number of congregants and recognizing individuals who are defined as “vulnerable.” The dispensation is in effect until further notice.

“We look forward to the day when we will all gather again, when physical distance doesn’t limit us and we will be able to rejoice in the strength and the grace offered to us in the Eucharist,” says Bishop Knestout. “Know of my deep gratitude for your patience, support and cooperation as we work together as one Catholic community during this time.”

Parishes will continue to remain open during regular operating hours. They are encouraged to continue the following: livestream Masses, schedule the celebration of public Masses with additional time between them to allow for worship space to be cleaned and disinfected, and post homilies and Mass recordings to the parish website.

Catholics with questions regarding the reopening of churches should contact their parishes or