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The Roman Cathoilc Diocese of Portland on Wednesday temporarily suspended all daily and Sunday Masses in response to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Maine.
Bishop Robert Deeley said that he was following the guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention based on the size of most congregations in Maine.
Last week, he released Catholics from their obligation to attend weekly services but Masses were celebrated throughout the state but attendance was down considerably.
Baptisms, funerals and weddings that include a Mass may continue but only with immediate family present for the service, Deeley said.
Most other houses of worship in the state canceled services last weekend and for the rest of March.
Gov. Janet Mills’ ban on gatherings of 10 or more people, issued Wednesday, will shut down nearly all worship services for the rest of the month. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 5. Easter Sunday is April 12.
It is not yet clear how Holy Week services for Christians throughout Maine might be affected by the spread of the virus.
Deeley will celebrate a Mass from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland at 10 a.m. Sunday. Although not open to the public, the Mass will be livestreamed at both portlanddiocese.org and facebook.com/PortlandDiocese.
“Temporarily suspending Masses will help to ensure the safety of our older parishioners and our priests, particularly those who are also among the most vulnerable,” Deeley said.
Deeley also urged Catholics to continue making weekly financial contributions to their local parishes. Parishioners may continue to support their local parish through the WeShare online giving option at portlanddiocese.org/OnlineGiving.
There are nearly 300,000 self-identifying Catholics and 141 active Catholic churches in Maine.