On March 13th, Bishop Stika issued the following procedural mandates for Masses in the diocese:
- The faithful’s obligation to attend Sunday Mass is dispensed if they have an illness or because they are older adults who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease; are individuals with severely compromised immune systems; and caretakers of anyone at risk.
- 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.
On March 14th, Bishop Stika issued the following update:
“After prayerful consideration and reflection on what is occurring in our nation and in particular in East Tennessee, all Catholics within the Diocese of Knoxville are dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the next three weekends (March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29). 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. I would offer that, given this dispensation, Catholics should spend some time in prayer as a family or as an individual reflecting on the readings of the particular Sunday. Let us also pray for the sick, the caregivers and those involved in healthcare. 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.”