Diocesan Coronavirus updates

05/11 Update…

To the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, 

For several weeks now, Catholics have been unable to participate physically in the celebration of Mass. Despite the empty pews in our parish churches, our local clergy are to be commended for Continuing the Mission and for bringing the Good News to others in new and various ways! We also thank our Governor John Bel Edwards and our local leaders for their clear communication and effective measures to slow the progress of this virus that have made the Phase One changes possible. 

With restrictions slowly being eased, it is incumbent upon the Catholic Church to offer the sacraments and begin a slow, deliberate return to parish life while maintaining a safe environment. We, as a Church, must do our part to protect our congregants and assist in preventing the spread of this virus. Given the new directives from Governor Edwards, the following provisions will be in effect in the Diocese of Baton Rouge beginning 16/17 May 2020. Every pastor may start Mass with a congregation under these directives beginning with the Masses (including Saturday Vigil Mass) for Sunday, May 17th, but may choose to start any time after that with all parishes having regularly scheduled Masses by Sunday of May 24, 2020. These norms are open to further revision, expansion or restriction as circumstances change for our Diocese. 

Sunday Mass Obligation Dispensation 

The Sunday Mass obligation continues to be dispensed for all Catholics indefinitely. Those who are ill or who are not feeling well in any way should not attend Mass until they are free of their illness and its symptoms for three days. Those who are especially vulnerable (namely, those defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as those 60 years of age or older, those with comprised immune systems, and/or those with underlying health conditions), and indeed anyone who does not feel comfortable attending Mass are encouraged to stay home. Where possible, Sunday and daily Masses will continue to be streamed for those who are not yet comfortable, for any reason, with returning to a public Mass. 

Celebration of the Eucharist 

Per the directives of Governor Edwards, our churches can resume services at 25% of the declared occupancy of the worship space in this first phase of re-opening. To accommodate these new directives will require the pastor to make the needed changes in ways that fit the individual parish’s size and its resources. Some of the many decisions will include: 

·       -  Arrangement of seating so there is proper physical distancing (six feet apart in all directions, though families and those living in the same household can sit together); 

·       -  Possible temporary additions of more Sunday and daily Mass times to meet the parish needs; 

·       -  Deciding if a reservation process is needed, at least initially, to spread attendance over all the Masses available during the week. 

Parishioners are required to bring and wear masks while in the worship space. The faithful are encouraged to bring small bottles of hand sanitizer for their personal use. 

Pastors and their staffs have been encouraged by a separate communication to appropriately clean churches in order to promote public health. Pastors and other liturgical ministers, will observe proper hygiene.

To observe physical distancing, a bow or gesture should replace a handshake or other signs of peace during the liturgy. Also, at the conclusion of Mass, the same norms of distancing are to be observed by clergy and parishioners alike.

Priests, deacons and other ministers of Holy Communion will wear masks for the distribution of Holy Communion, and receiving the Precious Host on the hand is encouraged. There will be no Communion from the common chalice. The faithful are also encouraged not to come forward to receive Holy Communion wearing gloves.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Regularly scheduled opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation can resume as long as masks are worn and proper distancing can be maintained for all while waiting in line and in the confessional.

Other Sacraments

The previous directives of 17 March 2020 remain in place for Funerals, Marriages, Baptisms, Anointing of the Sick, and Eucharist to the Homebound, for the time being. As we become more confident in our new ways of gathering, I will give pastors more options for these Sacraments.

Parish Operations

At the discretion of the pastor, parish offices may resume operating hours as long as no more than 25% of the parochial building is occupied. All visitors who enter a parochial facility must wear face masks at all times. The lay faithful are encouraged to conduct parish business, when possible, by phone, mail or email.

Gathering together under these new guidelines is a big undertaking by your pastor and parish staff. Expect that each parish will begin public Masses when prepared and will adopt different options that reflect the size of the parish, number of priests, available resources, readiness and parishioner support. I invite you not to compare what is going on in another parish with your parish’s situation. Be patient with your pastor and accept that it will take a few weeks to accommodate this new reality.

By our continued cooperation our mission will advance, and we will journey together into an uncertain future filled with the strength of our faith and our Hope in the Lord.

In Christ our Hope,

Most Reverend Michael Gerard Duca Bishop of Baton Rouge

Given at the Chancery of Baton Rouge 11 May 2020


03/24 Update...

Dear Parishioners:

I continue to hope and pray that you are all doing well!

            Below my comments, I have attached the latest update from Bishop Duca regarding diocesan policies and procedures in light of Governor Edwards’ "shelter at home” directive given to our state on March 22nd.  

            As for our parish office:

1.    As requested, we have closed the office to all "outside” business beginning today.  However, we do plan to have one person in the office each day during normal operating hours to take care of "regular business” (bills, payroll, etc.), as well as answer phone calls and questions as necessary.  

2.    Parishioners are still encouraged to do business and interface with Mount Carmel by means of electronic media (website, Facebook), by email, or by traditional mail.  Although not physically present in the office every day, our staff will each continue to check their individual voicemails and emails several times each day so as to attend to your needs.  You are especially encouraged to continue your generous financial stewardship by mailing in your contribution or using "WeShare” on our parish website.  We hope to have a dropbox installed soon at the parish office if you’d prefer/need to physically bring something by the office.

3.    All employees will continue to be compensated for their work as long as our financial situation allows us to do so. 

4.    Because of its importance, our church will remain open (as usual) for private visitations and prayer.  Please practice wise and proper "social distancing” and limited interaction.  We will be sanitizing the church (knobs, pews, etc.) daily, but would also appreciate your help in practicing wise and prudent personal hygiene.

5.    Our parish Facebook page is up and running.  Thanks to our staff member, Sarah Bergeron, for maintaining the site.

6.    We’ll continue to look for better ways to communicate with you all!... I continue to offer my daily Mass for your intentions… let’s continue to keep each other in prayer!...


God bless,  Fr. Cary 




Update from Bishop Duca on Shelter in Place Directive -- 23 March 2020 


To the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Baton Rouge 

Yesterday Governor Edwards enacted a "shelter at home” directive for the whole state of Louisiana.  While not total isolation or full quarantine, the faithful are encouraged to minimize contact with outside individuals aside from family in the household by only participating in essential activities such as visiting the doctor, grocery shopping, or purchasing prescriptions and other medical supplies.  Mindful of these further developments, the following will be in effect in the Diocese of Baton Rouge beginning today, Monday, 23 March 2020: 


1.     Clergy should continue to offer the sacraments according to the directives set forth in my communication to them dated 17 March 2020.  They are reminded to practice proper social distancing, promote practices of good hygiene especially handwashing, and to be prudent and limited in their interactions with parishioners.   


2.     All non-sacramental events at parishes should continue to be suspended postponed or cancelled until further notice.  No firm commitments should be made for any new or rescheduled events until further notice from me.


3.     All Diocesan office buildings at the Catholic Life Center will close to the public effective today, 23 March 2020.  Although the buildings are closed we remain open to help you during this difficult time. The Catholic Life Center (225-387-0561) and Catholic Charities (225-3368700) employees will work remotely during this period; you may continue to call or email for assistance. 


4.     Parishes should follow a similar approach, closing parish offices to the public, designating essential personnel along with appropriate time schedules. 


After Easter or when necessary as the circumstances change, I will make a further determination regarding extending or retracting any of the above provisions based upon the current need in our community to slow and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.   


Continue to do what is safe to slow the spread of this pandemic; know that I am concerned and praying for Divine Assistance!  


In Christ our Hope, 



Most Reverend Michael Gerard Duca 

Bishop of Baton Rouge 


Given at the Chancery of Baton Rouge 

23 March 2020 


3/21… Saturday afternoon



Dear parishioners:


I pray that you are all doing well!


This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent.  It is also known as Laetare Sunday.  Laetare means rejoice, and this Sunday is supposed to be marked by a relaxation of the penitential character of the Lenten season, and is meant to give us hope and encouragement as we slowly progress towards the Paschal Feast.  


But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re probably not feeling very "rejoiceful” or "hopeful” at the moment.  Instead, we are probably experiencing episodes of anxiety, worry, or even fear.  We might even be wondering if God has abandoned us (as did the Israelites in last week’s first reading)… PLEASE don’t fall into that kind of thinking!  God IS with us… He’s with us in our rejoicing AS WELL AS in our times of sorrow… and HE WILL take care of us!


As I write this, I would normally be celebrating the 4:30 pm Mass with members of our parish community.  Sadly, this isn’t possible at this time.  However, in this age of technology, there ARE many opportunities for you and your family to view both daily and Sunday Masses online.  On our parish website, I have placed the links to some of my recommended sites – I particularly like Bishop Robert Barron’s site (https://www.wordonfire.org/daily-mass).  PLEASE KNOW THAT I AM PRAYNG A PRIVATE MASS EACH DAY for the general intention of all of our parishioners.  


LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU TO VIEW one of these online Sunday Masses with members of your family!  In the absence of being physically present to receive Christ in Holy Communion, a Spiritual Communion is vitally important to one’s soul!  To aid in your participation, I am including a link to some materials for preparation in the praying of the Mass together (including the Order of the Mass as well as a Prayer during the Communion Rite), as well as my homily for this weekend.  Each link will direct you to our website where these materials can be printed for your reflection.


In other "news”:


·      To aid in our parish-wide "communications”: We are in the process of setting up a parish Facebook page… please "follow” or "like” it when you see it!  Also, we will be implementing a piece of software called Flocknote, which will help us more effectively TEXT or EMAIL our parishioners with "breaking news” whenever necessary.


·      And finally…: even though you cannot physically attend Mass at this time, I ask that you please consider remembering your financial stewardship to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Please consider mailing your contributions weekly (PO Box 1249, Saint Francisville, LA 70775) or make a regular online contribution through our website (www.felicianacatholic.org).  These weeks will be difficult for us all, but as we have in other times of adversity, we will get through together with God's help and your generous spirit! 




·      Preparation for praying of Mass togetherhttp://felicianacatholic.org/PageDisplay.asp?p1=10016


·      Father Cary’s homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent: http://felicianacatholic.org/PageDisplay.asp?p1=10017



God bless, Fr. Cary


UPDATE Tuesday, March 17 @ 6:00 pm:

We have received further information from our Bishop Michael Duca...

To the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

As is already clear from the continued closings throughout our country and state, the Coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout many of our communities. Several bishops in the United States and in the Province of New Orleans have taken the difficult step with me to offer the faithful a dispensation from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

Local leaders, including Governor Edwards, continue to announce aggressive measures to prevent the spread of the virus. These include limiting the size of public gatherings and closing venues such as restaurants and theaters to significantly expand mitigation efforts to slow the progress of further community spread. Action must be taken now in order to protect our communities.

Mindful of these further developments while concomitantly considering the desire of the faithful to receive the sacraments, the following provisions will be in effect in the Diocese of Baton Rouge beginning Wednesday, 18 March 2020:

1. The Sunday Mass obligation continues to be dispensed for all Catholics as long as this threat persists. Further, as was previously announced, public Masses are to be suspended beginning Tuesday, 17 March 2020. Priests may celebrate Mass privately.

2. Whenever possible, and at the Pastor’s discretion, the Parish Church is allowed to remain open for some time during daylight hours for prayer until further notice. If opened, times will be advertised by the Pastor. All adoration chapels should be closed until further directed. Appropriate social distancing should be practiced by any visitor to the Parish Church.

3. Pastors are to cancel all unnecessary gatherings of parishioners for the months of March and April. These include large social events like parish festivals, seated meals, processions and indeed any parish function where more than 10 people would be required to gather in a confined space.

4. All communal penance services are cancelled. The Sacrament of Reconciliation should only be offered at the request and need of an individual penitent. Regularly scheduled and advertised times of reconciliation should be suspended until further notice.

5. All Holy Water fonts should be drained until further notice.

6. All parishes in the Diocese of Baton Rouge are asked to limit baptisms to private and small family celebrations. Fresh water should be used for all baptisms and drained immediately thereafter.

7. Funerals are to be celebrated only with immediate family (parents, spouses, siblings, children, and grandchildren), clergy and funeral staff present. Funeral Masses and services in the Church are not allowed. It is recommended that the Funeral Liturgy Outside of Mass and/or the Rite of Committal be celebrated at the graveside or at the funeral home according to pastoral need.

8. Weddings are to be celebrated only with the bride, groom, celebrant, two witness and immediate family (parents, siblings, and children) present. Mass should not be celebrated.

9. Delivery of communion to those at home, in nursing homes or in other healthcare facilities on a regular basis should be discontinued indefinitely; this does not apply in danger of death or when a person is in need of viaticum. Ministers should take proper precautions to protect themselves and those they serve in any of these visits.

10. Catholics believe in the healing power of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Priests should assure that all appropriate hospital protocols are followed, and hospital staff should be consulted before entering a patient’s room. It is crucial that the highest sanitary precautions be considered when visiting the sick!If a priest is to visit someone exhibiting symptoms, he should wear mask and gloves, wash his hands appropriately, not linger, and wear a gown to cover his clothes. If a priest is asked to anoint someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus or who has its symptoms, please contact the Chancery. Any minister who has unprotected close contact with someone with the virus must self-quarantine for two weeks minimum.

Ministers may encounter situations where they are denied access to patients. In such situations, it is recommended that the priest call the individual and pray with them by phone. The faithful should be aware that because of regulations by nursing facilities and hospitals, priests may not in all circumstances be able to anoint a patient, even in danger of death.

11. Parish and Diocesan Offices will remain open, though some schedules might be reduced on the parochial level at the discretion of the Pastor. The lay faithful are encouraged to conduct as much Parish or Diocesan business as possible either by phone or email. This provision remains subject to change pending any future directives.

After Easter, I will make a further determination regarding extending or retracting any of the above provisions based upon the current situation in our community with the Coronavirus.

I do not make these decisions lightly.In consultations with leaders in our Diocese, and for the sake of the safety of those to whom we minister, precaution is necessary to slow the spread of this pandemic. Know that I remember all of you in prayer during this difficult time. We join our sacrifices to others throughout our country during these trying times.

In Christ our Hope,

Most Reverend Michael Gerard Duca

Bishop of Baton Rouge

Given at the Chancery of Baton Rouge

17 March 2020


Dear Parishioners...

I share these directives from our bishop knowing that many will struggle with these precautions yet we all must do our part to protect the common good.  As a church we constantly preach the protection of life, here’s our chance to stand united. 

Please continue to check our website for continued news updates as well as LINKS to MASSES ONLINE and RESOURCES for prayer during this difficult time...

As always, be assured of my prayers,
Fr. Cary


UPDATE Monday, March 16 @ 6:00 pm:

Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Baton Rouge has announced, beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the suspension of public celebrations of Sunday and daily Masses in all parishes and Catholic institutions in the diocese.  The suspension is in effect until further notice.

There are over seventy church parishes and other Catholic institutions in the 12 civil parishes that comprise the boundaries of the diocese.

Additional details on how this decision will affect the celebrations of sacraments and other aspects of parish life will be fleshed out in the next few days.  As always, priority consideration will be given the directives of Governor Edwards and to public health officials who have our best interests state in mind.

The Bishop said, "Let us pray that the Holy Spirit gives us a spirit of Hope in the Lord, who will sustain us even in these unprecedented times.”


In the meantime, listed below are links to some websites/resources which would be useful in the absence of Mass:

· A Liturgy of the Word with An Act of Spiritual Communion that can be used if staying home from Mass. (PDF)

· The Readings of the Day from the USCCB

· Magnificat is offering its readings and reflections free for the time being.

As conditions warrant, I will keep you informed of any changes to these diocesan decisions… please return back to our website for any updates.

Let’s continue to keep each other in prayer!... 

God bless, Fr. Cary



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