Holy Week is halted

Anna Schenkel , News Assistant Editor

All across the globe, Catholic churches were forced to change the Easter services they have been accustomed to over time due to COVID-19.

After much deliberation, the Roman Vicar Angelo De Donatis announced on March 8 that churches in Rome were closed to tourists, but some were to remain open in specific places for the faithful following a restriction given by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to close most public places in Rome. Pope Francis urged people to continue to have hope and appreciate the concreteness of the small things in life in an interview with an Italian newspaper, “La Repubblica.”

On Tuesday, March 31, the Archdiocese of Dubuque announced the alteration of Holy Week and Easter Services due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Although people were not able to go to their churches, services for Holy Week and Easter were still available via livestream.

For certain in-person services, like Holy Thursday and Palm Sunday, Catholics were not required to attend and the services have been omitted this year, although virtual services were still held. Other services, like the Easter Vigil, were adjusted in different ways as seen fit, including omitting the preparation and lighting of the fire, while still lighting the Paschal Candle and reading the Liturgy of the Word virtually.  

The Archdiocese of Dubuque decided to put these restrictions into place after President Trump extended COVID-19 regulations until April 30.

In an online statement released on the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s website, “The President extended the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic at least until the end of April 2020, in an attempt to slow down the spread of the disease and to reduce the number of people who get sick from it,” Archbishop Michael Jackels said.

All across the nation and the world, priests and pastors are taking people’s safety into account first.

“Now is not the time for politicians to play politics with people’s lives,” Father Ira Acree, a priest from Chicago, said. “We are fighting an invisible enemy.”

In order to follow all the other guidelines, funerals, weddings and baptisms may be held, but they are limited to no more than ten people being present.

Although Catholics are unable to attend Mass, Archbishop Jackels provided alternative ways to stay connected with the faith.

“Prayer and worship are essential practices of our faith in God, and they are ideally practiced with others, not alone. But we have to be good stewards, prudent, careful not to contribute to the spread of disease,” Archbishop Jackels said. “Do penance, if by no other way than to practice silence when tempted to say something hurtful.”

Amidst the new outbreaks and diagnoses, Father Mark Murphy of St. Jude’s has visited Heritage Specialty Care at least once everyday to pray for the staff and residents being affected by COVID-19, with 17 deaths and 102 cases being confirmed as of Monday, April 13. Father Murphy said it was his job, his mission, his vocation to pray for the people at the Heritage facility.

To learn more about attending virtual Mass and for other faith opportunities during this time, visit www.DBQArch.org.