Update 5/15/20 – 7:15pm

Three Main Rules for Restoration of Public Masses

Update 5/8/2020 – 11:59pm

Restoration of Public Masses on May 16/17
May 8, 2020

Update 5/6/2020 – 5:00pm

The Diocese of St. Augustine has released a statement regarding the restoration of public Masses. Our parish will release instructions particular how Masses will be conducted in our Church by the end of the week.

Update 5/5/2020 – 1:00pm

My Dear Parishioners,

I want to bring the good news that we will be resuming public masses the weekend of May 16th & 17th.

Father Bob, Parish Staff and I are working together to formulate guidelines as to how we will resume mass and adoration in our parish while adhering to the National and State regulations. We will be sharing detailed information with you in the coming days.

God Bless You All,

Father Ignatius

Update 3/26/2020 – 5:00pm

Fr. Ignatius wishes to address the parish.

Posted by St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Orange Park, FL on Saturday, March 28, 2020
Fr. Ignatius Addresses the Parish
March 26, 2020

My dear parishioners,

It has been almost two weeks since we were last together and I wanted to reach out to you and express my concern for you.

Yesterday, I was moved by the images of Pope Francis addressing an empty St. Peter’s Square and blessing the city of Rome and the entire world with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The image hit me close to home. 

For almost two weeks, Fr. Bob and I have been celebrating Mass without our people in our chapel, which has left me feeling the same emptiness the Pope must have felt looking out on the Square. I miss seeing all of you and long for the day when we can gather physically again in our Church.

However, I am also filled with great hope. I am grateful for all of you have joined us while we are livestreaming the Mass from the chapel and the Rosary from various parishioners’ homes. It has been a blessing to see so many worship with us, particularly parishioners who have moved away from the area. 

I am also grateful for the many volunteers from our Parish Neighborhood Communities who have made over 1000 phone calls to our more senior parishioners.   While we cannot gather in our church building, St. Catherine is still active as Church because we, the people are the Church, and St. Catherine’s has once again demonstrated that we are a community of communities joined together with our Lord and caring for one another.

The physical emptiness of our Church is healed by the spiritual fullness I have experienced through your prayers, acts of charity, and the love I have felt from all of you in your own ways. I am also comforted, as I know you are, by the Lord’s promise to be close to us, regardless of our physical distance from one another. 

As a sign of the Lord’s closeness, Fr. Bob and I will hold Adoration from the Rectory Chapel window on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8-9pm for all those who are able to drive up, park, and remain in their cars while we spend time together with Jesus. I request that you keep social distancing by keeping your windows up or parked at a safe distance from other cars. We will also livestream to Facebook for those who cannot travel here.

I am grateful for the technology that allows us to reach all of you at this time and I encourage you to continue to participate in our Sunday Mass at 10am, our weekday Masses at 9am, and our evening Rosary at 7pm through our livestreaming.  As we are doing all of this, I encourage you to transform you homes into a Church, filled with songs, prayers, and Bible reading. 

We have all come together in this crisis, and the community of St. Catherine has always been and will continue to be with you through this situation and beyond; however, your weekly collection remains absolutely essential to our parish operations. The financial stress of several weeks of no offertory collections will put the physical and staffing needs of the parish in serious jeopardy.  If you look at this Sunday’s bulletin, you will see that our Sunday offertory has fallen off dramatically – 84 percent – in the last three weeks from $17,500 to $2,800.

Thank you to all who have dropped off your envelopes, sent them through the mail, placed them in the poor box, or have contributed through Faith Direct or PayPal. We are eternally grateful for your support. 

If you have not already done so, please help support your parish by visiting the front page of our website www.stcatherineop.com, and donating safely by credit or debit card, PayPal, or using Faith Direct to give directly from your checking account. You can also request your bank to send an electronic check to the parish.   Any support you can give will help us continue our proclamation of the Gospel message. 

We will continue to find creative ways of reaching out to you and your family with the powerful and comforting message of God’s love for each us and Jesus’ closeness to us in this time of great difficulty.

Please know of our continued prayers for each of you and your family. Thank you, God bless you, stay safe, and keep the faith.

In Jesus Love,

Fr. Ignatius

Update 3/20/2020 – 6:00pm

From Bishop Estevez, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine

“While we all deal with the effects of the virus affecting us all, I am aware that it might be even more arduous for many to comply wiht the universal church of no meat on Fridays, especially during this time of crisis, and especially when Catholic food options might not be readily available in local groceries.

Therefore, I am dispensing Catholics from the prohibition during Lent this year to abstain from meat on Fridays, I ask that when families or individuals take advantage of this dispensation, that each consider what other acts of penance or charity they might carry out.”

Update 3/20/2020 – 4:00pm

In addition to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/stcatherineop), we have established the ability to livestream our parish’s Mass on our parish website at www.stcatherineop.com/mass. Masses are being livestreamed at 9am on Monday-Saturday and at 10am in English and 12noon in Spanish on Sundays.

Beginning Monday, March 23, we will also be livestreaming on our Facebook page the Rosary for the end of the coronavirus at 7pm. All families are asked to unite in their own homes and we, as a community of communities, will pray together spiritually, while we cannot gather physically. More information will be posted on the Rosary page of our website (www.stcatherineop.com/rosary).

Update 3/20/2020 – 2:00pm

From the Apostolic Penitentiary:

The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12: 12). The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resonate throughout the entire history of the Church and guide the judgment of the faithful in the face of all suffering, sickness and calamity.

The present moment in which the whole of humanity, threatened by an invisible and insidious disease, which for some time now has become part of all our lives, is marked day after day by anguished fears, new uncertainties and above all widespread physical and moral suffering.

The Church, following the example of her Divine Master, has always had the care of the sick at heart. As Saint John Paul II points out, the value of human suffering is twofold: “It is supernatural because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human, because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 31).

Pope Francis, too, in these recent days, has shown his paternal closeness and renewed his invitation to pray incessantly for those who are sick with the Coronavirus.

So that all those who suffer because of COVID-19, precisely in the mystery of this suffering, may rediscover “the same redemptive suffering of Christ” (ibid., 30), this Apostolic Penitentiary, ex auctoritate Summi Pontificis, trusting in the word of Christ the Lord and considering with a spirit of faith the epidemic currently underway, to be lived in a spirit of personal conversion, grants the gift of Indulgences in accordance with the following disposition.

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.

Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, saving us from the evil of this pandemic and obtaining for us every good necessary for our salvation and sanctification.

The present Decree is valid notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 19 March 2020.

Mauro Cardinal Piacenza

Major Penitentiary

Update 3/20/2020 – 12:00noon

From the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Florida’s seven dioceses are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are closely monitoring reports and guidelines issued by the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Out of concern for the physical health and spiritual well-being of the faithful, each diocese has established protocols to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in its parishes, communities and beyond and has provided resources to assist Catholics in the practice of their faith during this challenging time.

All Florida dioceses have suspended regularly scheduled Masses and parish gatherings until further notice. The bishops are urging Catholics to “keep holy the Sabbath” and close to the Lord through prayer and reflection on the Word of God. Additionally, dioceses and/or parishes will be offering virtual Mass opportunities via live stream or video.

Update 3/19/2020 – 5:00pm

Because of concerns that we would create a gathering of people and based on the guidelines and action steps provided by the Diocese of St. Augustine, we are not going to be able to offer scheduled times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will offer this sacrament by appointment. Simply call or email a priest directly – Fr. Ignatius (352-281-4337; iggyson63@aol.com) or Fr. Bob (904-264-0577, frbob@stcatherineop.com).

The Church tells us that individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the only ordinary means by which a member of the faithful conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and the Church. This means that individually confessing all known grave sins as part of this sacrament is required for reconciliation.

However, if it is physically impossible to meet with a priest individually for this sacrament, please say an Act of Contrition and resolve to go to confession as soon as you can.

Given our attempts to reduce social contact to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we ask you to give only those most in need of this sacrament that access to our priests at this time.

There is a plenary indulgence offered by the Church to the dying through what is called the Apostolic Pardon (or apostolic blessing) given by the priest. It is given using one of two forms of a prayer almost always given as part of the Anointing of the Sick to someone who is dying.

However, the plenary indulgence can be obtained even if a priest is unavailable to give the Apostolic Pardon.

Below is the text from the Manual of Indulgences regarding this indulgence.

“1) A priest who administers the sacraments to someone in danger of death should not fail to impart the apostolic blessing to which a plenary indulgence is attached.

2) If a priest is unavailable, Holy Mother Church benevolently grants to the Christian faithful, who are duly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime; in such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence.

3) In this latter case, the use of crucifix or a cross in obtaining the plenary indulgence is commendable.

4) The faithful can obtain this plenary indulgence at the hour of death, even if they have already acquired a plenary indulgence on that same day.

5) The catechetical instruction of the faithful should ensure that they are duly made aware and frequently reminded of this salutary benefaction of the Church.”

Per Fr. Edward McNamara on the EWTN website, if there is no priest available, then there is no specific prayer that needs to be said. He writes that “…the usual requirements of prayer are substituted by having habitually said some prayer during one’s lifetime. This generous concession is because many people at the point of death are unable to recite any specific prayers.”

Particularly at this time when our priests are not permitted to enter the hospital (and perhaps other facilities) even in an emergency, it seems especially important to make everyone aware of this.

In a decree signed March 19, the Apostolic Penitentiary is granting additional indulgences to those affected by COVID-19. Some highlights are below:

“The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from the Coronavirus, subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite themselves spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, to the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”

Also, the same gift of Plenary Indulgence will be given “under the same conditions” to:
“Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer.“No man has greater love than this: to give his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).”

Additionally, the decree also “willingly grants” the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions to:
“Those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic Adoration, or the reading of Sacred Scripture for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and the eternal salvation of those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”

This is all in addition to what is already in place for the Apostolic Pardon above and for the alternative of the plenary indulgence at the point of death in the event that a priest is not available.

Again, we hope that this brings peace to all at this difficult time. We continue to work to serve as best that we can.

Update 3/19/2020 – 4:00pm

From Bishop Estevez, Diocese of St. Augustine

Effective today, March 19, 2020, all public Masses (weekday or Sunday Masses) have been suspended in parish churches and chapels in the Diocese of St. Augustine until further notice. Priests will continue to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass daily (without participation by the faithful) for the needs of the church and the world, especially as we face the present realities of the pandemic.

“The Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Augustine must do its part to support medical and governmental efforts to blunt the effects of the COVID-19 virus. The premise underscoring all our actions is to break the chain of physical contact by which this contagion propagates,” said Bishop Felipe Estévez.

“Ideas and actions on limiting numbers of people in groups and ‘social-distancing’ all center on this purpose of minimizing physical contact. The medical fact is that we do not and cannot know with certainty who at any moment might be carrying the virus because COVID-19 manifests itself through many of the same symptoms as other seasonal medical conditions (i.e., flu and allergies). So too, people are contagious for a period of time before displaying these symptoms. And for these reasons, breaking the chain of physical contact is imperative to success.”

Bishop Estévez said, “We must do our part not to promote activities that work against these efforts or attract the faithful to the parish or other group activities. At the same time, this prolonged period that lies ahead of us all has the potential to isolate people and, in so doing, creates loneliness, fear, desperation, and loss of hope. Pope Francis urges its leadership to strike a reasonable balance between medical prudence and pastoral care.”

All clergy have been provided pastoral guidelines and actions by Bishop Estévez that emphasize pastoral discretion and wisdom when making decisions for the parish. This includes directives on funerals, weddings, infant baptisms, and confession. Clergy have also been provided guidelines and protocols to follow when visiting the sick and responding to calls from hospitals and other health care facilities.

Offices and Parish Operations
Many diocesan offices and parishes around the nation are minimizing work in groups and looking for creative ways to keep operations running by limiting the number of office personnel. Parishes have the option of reducing hours of operation and staggering how and when people work to provide appropriate separation to ensure social distancing during church operations. Parish leadership will keep their congregation informed through periodic updates via their website, social media, and other digital forms of communication.

Parishes everywhere have been impacted economically and are struggling. Catholics are asked to continue giving during these difficult times. Several churches have online giving options. Parishioners can also consider mailing their offerings to the parish office.

Catholic Schools and Early Learning Centers
The Department of Catholic Education will continue providing real-time updates at www.dosaeducation.org. All schools in the state will remain closed until April 15. Most of our stand-alone diocesan early learning centers remain open.

Spiritual Communion
In the absence of Mass and the Eucharist, the faithful are encouraged to make a “Spiritual Communion” through the prayer of the Most Holy Redeemer (Anima Christi), the prayer of Self-Offering (Suscipe), or by praying the prayer below:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
     are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
     and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
    receive You sacramentally,
    come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Livestreamed Masses and other Resources
Some of our parishes have live-streaming capabilities to offer the Mass online. Also, Bishop Estévez and several priests of the diocese will provide daily Mass and Sunday Mass from Sacred Heart Chapel at the Catholic Center in Jacksonville via live-streaming on the diocesan Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dosacatholics) and YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/dosacatholics).

Bishop Estévez has asked the faithful to continue praying for all those who have been affected by the coronavirus, and in a special way for those who have died due to the pandemic. Please also remember the many first responders and medical personnel who are working tirelessly to serve our community.

For more information and updates from Bishop Estévez, visit www.dosafl.com/coronavirus.

Update 3/17/2020 – 11:00am

Based on further information from the Diocese, Bishop Estevez has suspended the public celebration of Mass until the end of March. Therefore, Masses at St. Catherine will not be celebrated publicly during that time.

To offer spiritual closeness to our parishioners, our priests will celebrate Mass on St. Catherine’s Facebook page at 9:00am on weekdays (Monday-Saturday) and at 10:00am on Sunday. In addition, Fr. Juan Alexis will celebrate Mass in Spanish on St. Catherine’s Facebook page at 12:00noon on Sunday.

These Masses will also be posted to our website as quickly as we can following their celebration.

While Masses are not being celebrated publicly, the Church will only be open 10am-4:30pm on Monday-Saturday and on Sunday from 2pm-6pm. Please no organized groups in the Church in order to maintain the limit of 10 people in a space as well as the social distancing of 6 feet.

The Adoration Chapel will be closed during this time period and perpetual adoration will be suspended until further notice.

The Parish Mission (March 30 – April 1), including the Lenten Penance Service, will be cancelled as well as the Stations of the Cross on Fridays throughout March. Souper Suppers have already been cancelled.

Confessions will be held in the Church Conference Room (Fr. Bob) and the Cry Room (Fr. Ignatius) from 3pm-4pm on Saturdays. Please maintain 6 feet apart while waiting in line for confession.

As more information is announced from the Diocese of St. Augustine, we will post that information on this page, as well as provide additional updates from our parish as we are able.

We thank you for your understanding and prayers, and know that we are praying for you, your families, our community, and our country as we experience this difficult time.

Update 3/16/2020 – 7:00pm

From the Diocese of St. Augustine

Bishop Felipe Estévez has announced new liturgical accommodations to limit the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) among the faith community of the 17-county region of the Diocese of St. Augustine. His response follows:

“Out of pastoral concern for the health and wellbeing of our Catholic community, and by my authority as the diocesan bishop to dispense from universal ecclesiastical laws, I dispense from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass:

  • All who are sick and those who are caring for them
  • Those who because of age or infirmity are at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus
  • Those who have been exposed to the coronavirus because of travel or other circumstances.

This dispensation is valid for as long as any of the above-reference conditions continue. And to further protect public health and calm fears, I also dispense all the Catholic faithful from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during the remaining weeks of March. This dispensation will allow any who are concerned to stay home and avoid public gatherings of 10 or more people in cooperation with civil authorities. As this continues to be a fluid situation, additional updates will be available on the diocesan website (dosafl.com), social media, and news releases to local media.”

The coronavirus is causing hardship for our people and our parishes, both spiritually and financially. Our churches will remain open during the day for the faithful who want to visit and pray. Your parish brings you the light of Christ. Please help keep the light shining by giving through your parish’s online program, app, or mail an offering to your parish office.

Catholic Charities Bureau continues to put faith into action to serve the most vulnerable in our community. For emergency financial assistance, call 2-1-1 in Jacksonville for more details. For operation hours and services in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lake City, and St. Augustine, visit www.ccbdosa.org. To provide financial assistance for members of our community who are affected, send checks to Catholic Charities Bureau, Inc., 3100 University Blvd., S., Suite 121, Jacksonville, FL 32216.

Bishop Estévez has asked us to pray for all those who have been affected by the coronavirus, and in a special way for those who have died due to this world-wide pandemic.

Update 3/16/2020 – 3:00pm

Out of an abundance of caution and to keep all of our parishioners healthy, Fr. Ignatius has decided to cancel all parish meetings and gatherings (except Mass, Stations of the Cross, and Adoration) until March 29th. 

If you are feeling unwell or are in one of the high risk categories for contracting COVID-19, please stay home to reduce your risk of being exposed.

If we receive more information from the Diocese of St. Augustine, we will update this plan accordingly.

If you or your family are in need of assistance during this time, please let us know so that we can provide help to you as best way that we can.  Please know of our prayers and concern for your family and all those affected by this virus.  We pray especially for those suffering from this infectious virus and for the blessed repose of all who have died from this illness, as well as to the scientists and public health officials, that they may find soon a remedy for this global and dangerous infection.

PRAYER DURING CORONAVIRUS from Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Update 3/12/2020 – 5:00pm

From the Diocese of St. Augustine

In light that we are dealing with a virus in which no immunity exists up to now, and listening to requests from pastors and Catholic healthcare leaders asking for a unified policy for the entire diocese, and joining many other Bishops in the country, the following measures are to take place in all celebrations of the Liturgy as temporary precautionary measures, hopefully commencing right away, beginning the weekend of March 14-15, 2020:

1. Suspend distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice, knowing that one receives the fullness of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the consecrated host.

2. Distribute Holy Communion on the hand only, ensuring you place the sacred host in such a way that you do not touch the hands. Intinction is not permitted.

3. Concelebrants must receive only by intinction.

4. Suspend a physical sign of peace, or simply omit.

5. End the non-liturgical practice of holding hands during the Our Father.

6. Empty the Holy Water fonts until further notice. For Baptisms, provide fresh water at the time of ceremony.

7. All liturgical ministers must practice good hygiene, washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds before and after all Masses.

8. Strongly encourage parishioners who are sick to stay home; missing Mass is not a sin if you are sick.