SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Friday, Most Rev. Francis Malone, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport released updated directives for the diocese, which stretches across north Louisiana from the Texas state line to the Mississippi state line.
The updated response came in consideration of new developments announced by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, as well as from the Metropolitan Archbishop of New Orleans, Malone said.
Malone on Friday issued a decree to pastors and principals of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Shreveport that all Catholic schools were to be closed immediately and remain closed until April 13.
That decision of when to return to school, however, was not made in granite, and will be revisited and subject to change “depending upon the circumstances present at that time.”
Other directives, Malone said, follow the executive order from the governor for the entire state.
Because the executive order prohibits public gatherings of people in excess of 250, which includes places of worship, Catholics are not required to attend Mass. But, because the mandate was only issued Friday, Malone said the word might not get out in time, so churches are allowed to remain open during the day so people can come privately.
In addition, gatherings at parishes for the rest of March an April should be cancelled or postponed; Communal penance services are suspended, as are face-to-face confessions unless there is a physical barrier in place.
Other directives included the draining and drying of Holy Water fonts and baptisteries until further notice.
Malone said an announcement regarding Holy Thursday services will be updated prior to Easter weekend; and on Palm Sunday, a simple prayer service may be held, and people may pick up blessed palms, which will be available outside the churches.
The bishop also recommended parishes with scheduled Lenten fish fry dinners on Fridays should consider cancelling them or offering only “take-out” options; and that serious consideration be given to suspending the custom of the St. Joseph Altar and meals or socials associated with them.