SEATTLE – Out of an “extreme measure of caution” because of the coronavirus outbreak, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne has ordered all parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle “to suspend public celebration of the Eucharist.”
The directive, announced in a video message, is effective immediately and comes on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
“I want to acknowledge the best science that is out there, that basically says despite our best efforts, this epidemic is going to continue to spread,” the archbishop said. “That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing everything we possibly can to restrict the spread of this virus, of this epidemic.”
Even though public celebration of Mass is suspended, “every priest has an obligation to celebrate the Eucharist every day and certainly I want our priests to continue to do that,” the archbishop said. “And I want all of us to continue to pray for our efforts and the efforts of so many others to care for the sick and to slow down the spread of this virus.”
He asked everyone to practice good hygiene measures, care for loved ones and check in on those who are homebound.
“Let’s continue to reach out, let’s continue to show our love and our care and concern for one another,” Archbishop Etienne said.
He urged people to pray for the sick and those who have already died. “That’s one of the greatest things we do as church,” Archbishop Etienne said. “It’s one of the greatest ways we express our faith in a loving and merciful God.”
He noted that additional measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus may be introduced at the state and local levels and from the church.
The archbishop closed the video by reciting a special prayer that has been commissioned, seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Seattle:
“Holy Mary, we come before you as spiritual children in great need, seeking your intercession, and asking that your mantle of love surround us to console, protect, and lead us to your son Jesus.
“We entrust all of God’s family, especially the church in Western Washington, into your immaculate hands. With your son Jesus’ gentle power you can undo any knot in our church, and in the lives of believers who entrust themselves to your care.
“Today I especially entrust to you all of those who are suffering from the coronavirus, all of our efforts to prevent the spread of this epidemic, all of those who are caring for the sick, all of those who have died, and I ask that — through your intercession, and that of St. James, our guardian angels, and the faithful in our archdiocese — we may be free from every spiritual and temporal ill, and be safely led to encounter your son’s merciful, sacred heart.
“Our Lady of Seattle, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!”