To All the Faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington:
As most of you are aware, Governor Beshear has recommended that houses of worship not have in-
person services from now through December 13.
Although our parishes will continue to celebrate mass with all of the safety restrictions already
established, I encourage people to seriously consider worshipping from home, participating in
streamed masses and/or praying, reading scripture, sharing faith with your families. We do not have
to worship in person and the obligation to attend mass on Sundays and holy days is still suspended.
We do have the divine commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day and can do so in our own homes
I urge those who are elderly or who have conditions which reduce the capacity of their immune
systems to stay home and join in virtual worship at this time.
The less we are in crowds, especially indoors, the less the virus spreads. Please heed all of the
directives for safe celebrations of Thanksgiving and consider it an expression of Christian charity to
wear a mask whenever within six feet of another person or when indoors with others.
The state’s directives now prohibit gatherings of larger than 25; as of today, this applies to all
gatherings other than worship in our buildings.
I remind you of the procedures in effect since the resumption of public worship in Diocese of
Lexington 20 May 2020
• Attendance limited to 50% of capacity (was originally 33%)
• Social distancing of 6 feet in all directions between people not of the same household at all
• Signs requesting people with fever or flu like symptoms not to enter
• Masks to be worn by congregation and by ministers at all times when not speaking,
reading or singing as part of their ministry
• Priests, liturgical ministers and sacristans must wash/sanitize hands before and after mass
and before and after the distribution of Communion.
• Communion is distributed only in the form of bread and given to communicants only in
The rest of the directives (with modest revisions where applicable) follow:
DIRECTIVES i.e. Not Optional
• Dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues in the Diocese of
Lexington until further notice.
• Attendance at each individual Mass or liturgy is limited to no more than 50 % of the
regular occupancy of your church. Regular occupancy number should be known. Plans
must be in place for how to limit the size of gatherings.
• Social distancing of 6 feet between people not living in the same household must be
followed; social distancing is to be practiced at all times and includes seating, processions,
communion lines and any lines waiting for admission to the church or exiting.
• Elderly and vulnerable populations are to be encouraged to participate in the live-streamed
• Signage is to be placed on entrance doors asking anyone with fever or flu-like symptoms to
not enter the church.
• Masks are to be worn by the congregation. Masks are to be worn by ministers at all times
when not speaking, reading or singing as part of their ministry.
• Holy water fonts are to remain empty.
• Hand sanitizer is to be available at least at church entrances and preferably in additional
• There is to be no physical contact during the Lord’s Prayer or during the Sign of Peace.
• Priests, liturgical ministers and sacristans must wash/sanitize hands before and after mass
and before and after the distribution of Communion.
• Hand sanitizer is to be used before the distribution of Communion. If inadvertent contact
(i.e. hand touching hand) is made, the minister of Communion is to stop and sanitize hands
before continuing the distribution. Having a place to set the ciborium and have access to
sanitizer nearby would be helpful.
• Gloves are not to be worn by the ministers or recipients of communion.
• Communion is distributed only in the form of Bread and given to communicants only in the
• Assembly is to be instructed that there will be no vocal words at the distribution of
communion, the minister will hold up the sacred host and the communicant will bow.
• Songbooks, prayer cards and other items are to be removed from the pews.
• Frequently touched surfaces in the church are to be cleaned and sanitized between liturgies
(e.g. pews, door handles, microphones, etc.)
• There will be no Children’s Liturgy of the Word.
• No choirs. Cantors and musicians are allowed with social distancing; the state is asking us to
limit (if not eliminate) congregational singing.
• Ushers and hospitality ministers are to wear masks and not make physical contact with
• No offertory procession; bread and wine remain in sanctuary and covered before being
placed on the altar. Hosts to be consecrated for the people are to be placed on the altar in
such a way that the priest is not speaking directly over them during the Eucharistic prayer;
his own host is to be separate.
• No passing of collection baskets or plates. Receptacles should be placed near entrances or in
clearly identified places for receiving offerings. Persons who handle envelopes or cash are to
carefully wash hands afterwards. Offertory counters are to wear gloves and masks for their
• Sacristans and those who assist in preparing communion elements must carefully wash their
hands and wear facemasks when in contact with bread and wine.
• Concelebrants and deacons are not to share from the same chalice.
• No paper bulletins are to be distributed.
• Any greetings after mass by the celebrant and/or deacons will still require social distancing
• Social distancing must be practiced in restrooms, and restrooms must be cleaned between
GUIDELINES at the Discretion of Parish Leadership
• Create a system to organize limited Mass attendance: e.g. alphabetically by household name;
electronic sign up systems, first-come, first served; etc. Ushers or other designated persons
should know in advance the procedures for overflow.
• Encourage weekday Mass attendance as an alternative for elderly, other vulnerable persons
who insist on attending.
• The Sunday readings and prayers may be repeated on weekdays when there isn’t a major
feast or solemnity; this may be helpful in encouraging people to come on a day other than
• Either continue to offer live-streamed masses or refer elderly and vulnerable members to
times and sites where such Masses are available.
• It is permissible for this time to distribute Holy Communion after the final blessing, as this
may assist in maintaining social distancing as people depart.
• Create exit procedures to avoid loss of social distancing at dismissal (e.g row by row).
• Provide additional places for sanitizer.
• Mark social distancing spaces (6 feet) on floor for communion lines
• Prop open entrance doors to minimize touching them.
• Use electronic bulletins, website postings.
• Determining seating arrangement that will maximize social distancing
• Availability of sufficient cleaning supplies, sanitizer
• Procedure and volunteers for cleaning between masses
• Arrange the schedule of Masses to encourage maximum distribution of congregants among
the various mass times and allow for proper cleaning and sanitization between Masses. This
might include additional masses where feasible, even during the week.
SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION
• Adults: parishes will have to determine, based on the numbers to be baptized whether
to further delay, whether all can be baptized in the same liturgy or if it is preferable to
divide into smaller groups; in larger parishes, if not delayed these will probably have to
be celebrated in a special liturgy even though the normal preference would be to have
the celebration with fuller participation of the parish. To the extent possible, Sunday
(any Sunday) is the preferred day for celebration. In all cases, those Elect who have
reached the age of reason must be confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time
in the same celebration. Water is to be blessed as part of the liturgy. Unless there is only
one person being baptized or multiple members of the same household, immersion is
not practical at this time because the water would have to be changed, and new water
blessed for each baptism. In baptism by pouring, the blessed water should not be taken
from the same receptacle where water from a previous baptism has been poured. The
words spoken by the priest during the explanatory rites should be spoken only once for
all participants when the priest is at a safe distance from those around him, including the
newly baptized. Sanitization of hands should be employed as needed when touching
objects and people. Sponsors/godparents could be asked to light and hold the candle
and place the white garments. Masks should be used and hands sanitized by the priest
before and after the laying on of hands and anointing (Confirmation).
• Infants: During the course of the pandemic, infant baptisms should not take place
during the Sunday Mass unless there is sufficient space for social distancing for all.
Group baptisms may have to be limited for the same reason and to keep the blessed
water clean for each baptism. The anointing with the Oil of Catechumens is to be
omitted. Water is to be blessed as part of the liturgy. The blessed water should not be
taken from the same receptacle where water from a previous baptism has been poured.
The words spoken by the priest or deacon during the explanatory rites should be spoken
only once for all participants when the minister is at a safe distance from those around
him, including the newly baptized. Sanitization of hands should be employed as needed
when touching objects and people. Sponsors/godparents could be asked to light and
hold the candle and place the white garments. The ephphatha rite is to be omitted. Masks
should be used and hands sanitized by the priest before and after the anointing with
Confirmation apart from Baptism:
• Those being received into the Church: Priests already enjoy the faculty to
confirm them at any time. Similar to the Elect, parishes will have to determine,
based on the numbers to be confirmed whether to further delay the reception,
whether all the candidates can be received and confirmed in the same liturgy or if
preferable to divide into groups; in larger parishes, if not delayed these will probably
have to be celebrated in a special liturgy even though the normal preference would
be to have the celebration with more of the parish represented. To the extent
possible, Sunday (any Sunday) is the preferred day for celebration.
• Youth and Adults already part of the Catholic Church: Again it will be a
pastoral decision whether to delay the sacrament until it can be safely celebrated with
a larger assembly or whether to divide those prepared for the sacrament into smaller
groups. For those parishes that prefer to form smaller groups of confirmandi,
pastors may request and will be given the faculty to confirm in these instances. The
request will need to be in writing and specific to each occasion. The bishop will
make his schedule as flexible as possible to accommodate revised confirmation
planning; it is unlikely that he would be able to celebrate more than two
confirmations at any particular parish.
• If celebrated during the course of the pandemic, communion will only be given under the
species of bread and in the hand. While Sunday parish Masses are usually preferable
occasions for First Communion, it can be celebrated on any day. Parishes may choose to
spread First Communions over a long series of Sundays based on the number of
participants or create special Masses for this purpose. First Communions should only be
celebrated during Mass, not during communion services.
For the foreseeable future, safe distancing of six feet between penitent and priest must be
maintained. Reconciliation should take place in a soundproof setting.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK:
Priests should be as generous as possible in offering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
while maintaining social distancing for all of the rite except the laying on of hands and the actual
anointing. A cotton ball can be used for the anointing, and hand sanitization should precede and
follow any contact. In hospitals, nursing facilities and other institutions the directives of the facility
are to be followed. Older or priests susceptible to illness should seek the assistance of other priests
to cover for them.
Follow the special directives as described for Mass, whether the mass is celebrated or not.
• In all sacramental celebrations, consideration should be given to live-streaming in order to
reduce the number of people in actual attendance.
• Ministry to the homebound should be exercised with care to maintain social distancing, use
of masks and hand sanitizer. Ministers to the homebound should not be in the vulnerable
• Karen Rood in the Office of Worship is in contact with colleagues around the region and
can be a resource for particular questions or circumstances.
• The bishop is willing to discuss particular needs and special circumstances as needed. No
permissions for variations from these norms will be given over the phone, the request and
response will have to be in writing (e-mail is fine for this purpose).
• There can be no exemptions from social distancing requirements.
GUIDANCE FOR GATHERINGS/MEETINGS OF UP TO TWENTY-FIVE (25)
Effective Friday, November 20, 2020, Governor Beshear has provided for groups of up to
twenty-five (25) people to gather/meet. The Directives and Guidelines below, which conform to
the state of Kentucky guidance, are for all gatherings/meetings outside of the public celebration
of liturgy (see for Directives and Guidelines for the Resumption of Masses and other Liturgies
during COVID-19) in the Catholic Diocese of Lexington until further notice.
DIRECTIVES (Not Optional)
• Gatherings/Meetings of up to twenty-five (25) people during the course of regular
parish business must abide by that parish’s Healthy at Work guidance (see
https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-healthy-at-work for minimum requirements mandated
by the state of Kentucky).
• All Attendees for Non-Church Groups of up to twenty-five (25) people on parish
grounds or in parish facilities are required to complete and sign the COVID-19 Waiver
prior to or upon their arrival to the gathering/meeting. The completed and signed
COVID-19 Waivers are to be submitted to a staff member designated by the
pastor/rector/parish life director and filed in the parish office.
• All Groups of up to twenty-five (25) people must:
– Communicate to individuals to stay home if sick and not attend a group event;
– Encourage group members who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 to avoid in-
person gatherings and remain Healthy at Home;
– Practice social distancing of at least six (6) feet apart from people who are not part
of one’s household at all times;
– Wear a cloth face covering or mask over the nose and mouth (except when eating or
– Screen and exclude persons with fever, symptoms of COVID-19, and/or direct
exposure to COVID-19; and
– NOT share food, drink, containers, plates, napkins, or utensils.
GUIDELINES (At Discretion of Parish Leadership)
• All Groups of up to twenty-five (25) people should:
– Socialize/meet via the internet, telephone, and other means that allow people to
the greatest extent possible;
– Limit the gathering size to the smallest number of people practicable;
– Sanitize bathrooms and other high-touch surfaces frequently, ideally before and
after each use whenever possible;
– Discourage people from sharing items such as tools, sporting equipment, vehicles,
cooking/grilling ware, and other high-touch objects;
– Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth; and
– Post signs to discourage handshakes, “high-fives,” and other direct person-to-person
contact to reduce social pressure to engage in these common behaviors.