What You Need to Know

There is a lot of information floating around regarding the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States. Rather than create yet another source, we have decided to launch this page to lead you to the websites and documents you may be looking for. Below you will find some of the communications that have gone out to the employees and priests of the diocese, as well as links to those national and local resources which will provide you with the most detailed and recent information. Check back weekly for new items as more unfolds about the coronavirus.

Communications

Statement announcing suspension of Mass and Parish Ministries through April 30   (Espanol)
Letter to Catholic School Families – Closure through April 17 – March 20, 2020   (Espanol)
Letter to Catholic Schools and Early Learning Centers – School Closure Week 2 – March 17, 2020    (Espanol)
Statement from Bishop Kopacz on COVID-19 – Suspension of Mass and Parish Ministries Effective Immediately – March 17, 2020     (Espanol)
Coronavirus Update for Catholic Schools and Early Learning Centers – March 14, 2020
Dispensation from Sunday Mass Obligation – March 14, 2020     (Espanol)
Diocesan Response to Prevention of Coronavirus – March 13, 2020  
Coronavirus Update to Catholic Schools – March 13, 2020
Coronavirus Update to Early Learning Centers – March 13, 2020   (Espanol)
Letter of Diocesan Directives from Bishop Kopacz – March 9, 2020    (Espanol)
Notice: suspension of the distribution of the Precious Blood during the Eucharist – February 29, 2020

Clarification

We have received several calls about leaving churches open for prayer. In the interest of safety and to clarify further the directive for no gatherings in parishes, for the next two weeks we are asking that churches not be open for individual prayer throughout the day. We will reassess this the first of April. One major way to slow down the spread of this virus is to take seriously social distancing and disinfecting areas where people have been. Everyone needs to cooperate in order to slow the spread. This virus is extremely dangerous. An individual may be asymptomatic in the church and go home and develop symptoms. These directives are meant to protect our faithful and our clergy. Prayers may be offered from anywhere.

Directives to Parishes, Schools, Other Institutions (updated March 24, 2020)

  • All Public Masses in every parish, school and institution in the Diocese of Jackson are suspended through April 30. 
  • All gatherings in parishes also are suspended effective immediately until further notice, including faith formation, CCD, RCIA, Stations, Adoration, etc.
  • All School Masses and Healing Masses are suspended as stated in the March 13 directives.
  • For the foreseeable future, funerals should be simple graveside services with small gathering and a memorial Mass may be celebrated at a later date.
  • All public St. Joseph Altars are suspended.
  • Weddings should consist of gatherings of 10 or less and by using Rite of Marriage Outside of Mass.
  • Penitential Prayer Services can be live-streamed, and all can ask and receive God’s mercy from our hearths and homes, the domestic church. Parishes can continue to arrange for opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but the logistics of social distancing must be safeguarded and all lock-down decrees must not be violated.
  • The Diocesan Chrism Mass will be postponed.
  • Palms will be blessed in our parishes, but we are not encouraging their distribution until a later date when the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus is greatly reduced or eliminated.
  • The RCIA process with the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil will be postponed in all our Churches. These sacraments will be celebrated with the reopening of our churches.
  • Confirmations will not be celebrated while our churches are closed.
  • Priests are asked not to travel outside the diocese until further notice.
  • Diocesan staff will not be travelling, and some are set to work from home.
  • Parish staff should limit in office visits and encourage business to occur via telephone or email.

The Office of Catholic Education has shared the following information with principals and teachers: (Updated March 27, 2020)

  • Catholic Schools are closed through Friday, April 17.
  • Early Learning Centers are closed through April 17.

Ongoing updates will be made as Holy Week approaches and as the situation changes. We ask for everyone’s cooperation and prayers for all as we navigate these uncertain times.

Helpful Links

Center for Disease Control
Mississippi Department of Health
Mississippi Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline: 877-978-6453 (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday)
Workspace and Household Cleaning
White House Coronavirus Guidance – March 16, 2020