20 March 2020
To the Pastors and People of the Diocese of Bathurst
Dear Friends in Christ,
Every day, there are new developments in slowing the spread of Covid19. Only a short time after my last announcement, I regret that we shall have to make another change, based on the latest regulation from the Commonwealth Government.
The celebration of all public Masses in the Diocese of Bathurst will cease from tomorrow, Saturday 21st March 2020. Churches will remain open every day for private prayer. (Since the time of publication, the NSW Government has ruled places of worship are to close. As result, all churches and chapels in the Diocese will be closed from 23 March 2020 until further notice).
The priests will continue to be available for the other sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick and Penance as needed.
I urge all Catholics to increase their time in personal prayer and reflection on the scriptures as we journey through these difficult days. In particular, Pope Francis is encouraging us to pray the Rosary. I urge those who are younger and healthier to be available to help your neighbours who may be confined to home.
Put all your trust in God, who made us and invites us to share the fulness of life in Jesus Christ, the conqueror of death.
SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION
As you know, all Catholics are obliged to attend Mass or parish Liturgy every Sunday. To deliberately miss Mass, except for a serious reason, is a grave sin.
Clearly, the current Covid 19 emergency is such a serious reason, so I formally dispense all Catholics in the Diocese of Bathurst from their obligation until further notice.
It is also an obligation for Catholics to support their parish financially, according to their means. This would be an appropriate time to check with your parish about arrangements for on-line contributions which will be necessary for their continued functioning.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop of Bathurst