Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz has suspended all public Masses in the Archdiocese of Louisville March 16, effective immediately and until further notice.
With guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and in consultation with priests of the archdiocese Archbishop Kurtz also has asked parishes to refrain from events that gather more than 50 people — including fish fries, education or formation events and parish meetings.
By March 16, several parishes had canceled their Lenten fish fries or switched to drive-thru or carry-out only. Some had also closed their parish offices.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Monday said he is directing all bars and restaurants to cease in-person service. Only carry-out and drive-thru orders would be allowed. The governor also reported the state’s first death related to COVID-19.
Last week, in a letter urging vulnerable people to stay home from Mass, the archbishop said giving up Mass for the sake of others was an “act of Christian Charity.”
He also urged pastors to find creative ways to make their churches accessible for prayer, “provided there are clear safeguards in place that honor the need for social distancing.”
Pastors in the archdiocese were also asked to pray a prayer provided by Archbishop José Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas. We fly to you today as your beloved children. We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother, and gain for our nation and world, and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels, that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted, we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance. Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful, wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence, knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.