June 5, 2020
Dear Clergy, Religious, and Faithful of the Diocese of San Jose,
The Coronavirus pandemic, in many ways, has been devastating. Many of us have lost loved ones and neighbors, millions have lost jobs, the means of their livelihood, and many of us live with the fear of infection with this deadly virus.
Because of our concern for the lives and wellbeing of all persons, especially for the most vulnerable to this virus, we suspended public worship beginning mid March. Our concern throughout this time has been twofold: the safety and wellbeing of all, especially the elderly and health compromised, and the continued spiritual nourishment of the faithful. Although we continued to reach out to our faithful in safe, distanced, manners, we have all longed to worship together, again, in person.
After discussion with and consensus among our pastors and the Council of Priests, parishes and chapels in the Diocese of San Jose may resume public worship outdoors beginning on Monday, June 15, 2020.
We will follow the directives of the Santa Clara County Public Health Officer, who at this time is permitting outdoor worship in groups no larger than 25 persons. We will insist that all persons over the age of six attending these in-person celebrations wear face coverings, practice physical distancing of six feet between non-family members, and sanitize their hands when entering the worship space and immediately before receiving Communion.
It is essential that our in-person worship not be the cause of further outbreaks of infection, and so we will insist on these safety measures. If infection rates and hospitalizations do not spike, then we can expect the limitations on numbers and place of worship to be modified in due time.
I ask the faithful to follow specific instructions from their parish regarding Mass schedules and how to participate in in-person liturgies. The general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect for all Catholics in the Diocese of San Jose until further notice. Parishes will continue to livestream Masses.
Let us pray for each other. Let us practice charity toward each other. And let us practice moral responsibility for each other’s safety, especially the vulnerable.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop of San Jose