KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Bishop Richard Stika announced Saturday that Catholics within the Diocese of Knoxville will be dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the next three weekends, due to Covid-19 concerns.

Those weekends include March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29.

Bishop Stika also said that Mass will still be celebrated for those who wish to attend “but given the fact that attendance may cause some to be anxious, I thought it best to offer this dispensation.”

“During this challenging time, it is important that we act prudently, but without panic. We turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother in prayer, especially for those who are sick or vulnerable, and for those who care for them,” said Bishop Stika.

Friday Bishop Stika issued these procedural mandates for Masses in the diocese.

  • The faithful’s obligation to attend Sunday Mass is dispensed
  • Empty holy water fonts and keep them completely dry.
  • Refrain from passing collection baskets person-to-person, and instead use fixed locations in appropriate aisles so that parishioners can place their donation in it as they process to or from Communion.
  • Refrain from holding hands during the recitation of the Our Father.
  • Omit the Sign of Peace, or exchange it without physical contact.
  • Suspend the distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ.
  • Suspend the distribution of the Sacred Host on the tongue and distribute it only in the hand.