Santa Rosa bishop orders halt to Communion services without a priest

Bishop Robert Vasa: "The practice, while popular, is not consistent with the Instructions from the Holy See"

Bishop Vasa

The following is a message from Bishop Vasa of Santa Rosa:

I use my space in the North Coast Catholic this month to communicate to all the people of God a Directive already shared with the priests of the Diocese regarding “Communion Services”. In the Instruction on the Eucharist issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on March 25, 2004, we read:

  1. It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering (Communion Service without Mass) and the celebration of the Eucharist. The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings.
  2. Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

It has become common in a number of Parishes and Institutions in the Diocese of Santa Rosa for Deacons and Laity to hold Communion Services in the Absence of a Priest on both Sundays and weekdays whenever a priest is not available for the celebration of Holy Mass. Often these Services are held on scheduled days, sometimes weekly, sometimes several times each week. The practice, while popular, is not consistent with the Instructions from the Holy See, cited above. Our respect for the Most Holy Eucharist requires that we take very seriously the Directives of the Church. Opinions about what should be done in our Parishes will certainly vary but what surrounds the Eucharist demands of us a deep fidelity to the Church and her Instructions.

Therefore, I have explained to the priests of the Diocese that the following is to be observed:

  1. As a general policy, Communion Services instead of Mass are not allowed either on Sundays or on weekdays. Those who have been asked to do them in the past may no longer do so.
  2. Information about the times for Masses at nearby Parishes and Chapels is to be published regularly in Parishes of the Diocese so that those who are able may travel to other sites for Mass.
  3. Pastors are encouraged to make arrangements, when they are unable to celebrate Mass, for a Parish Leader to be instructed to lead the Community in Prayer according to the Approved Rites. The Rites include leading Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer or a Celebration of the Liturgy of the Word. A lay person leading the Service may read a text prepared by the Pastor. Only a Deacon may preach. These Services are to be conducted without the Distribution of Holy Communion.
  4. Deacons may also expose the Blessed Sacrament for a period of adoration followed by Benediction. Distribution of Holy Communion is not permitted in conjunction with Benediction.
  5. This policy is not intended to impede those persons charged with the important duty of bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and to Shut-ins.
  6. Under no circumstances are those charged with the duty of bringing Holy Communion to others to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their own homes.
  7. These Regulations become effective on August 1, 2018.

+Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa

From Santa Rosa Catholic.

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  1. Gretchen says:

    What a wonderfully holy bishop. The people of his diocese are blessed to have him as their leader.

  2. What a wonderfully holy bishop. The people of his diocese are blessed to have him as their leader.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So beautiful to see good leadership. God bless Bp. Vasa for giving proper respect for the Blessed Sacrament.

  4. Ellen Gaffney says:

    In this day and age, This Bishop needs to re-asses his way of thinking on the Holy Eucharist — our bread of Life! With Locked Churches, 25 percent of the population who go to Church (The elderly who need the Sacraments and unable to get to Mass) this ruling seems to me to be and error regarding CHRISTIAN CHARITY. The reason this Bishop is a representative of our Lord is mainly that the Eucharist is made present to all of God’s people.

    • Alyce E Millhorn says:

      In a message to Barnabus Nwoye in Nigeria, Our Dear Lord lamented the handling of His Body by unconsecrated hands! Maybe this is not such a bad decision after all.

    • Kevin Bailey says:

      Alyce if you note the end of his letter he specifically sites that this is not a restriction on those taking communion to the home bound. “This policy is not intended to impede those persons charged with the important duty of bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and to Shut-ins.” This is to eliminate to distribhtion of the Eucbarist at the church in the firm of a service in place of a mass when a priest is not present. Two very different things.

  5. Thank you, B Vasa, for being the bishop you were called to be and protecting the integrity of the Most Holy Eucharist and encouraging the “right thinking” of the flock intrusted to you.

  6. Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon had already done this, so this bishop isn’t the first or the only one to do this.

  7. Makes sense in a diocese like Santa Rosa. Not so much in Alaska or Idaho.

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    My bishop, Robert Morlino, also forbade this practice except in specific situations like in nursing homes where there wouldn’t be able to be a priest to celebrate Mass regularly. He has been really excellent for protecting and promoting reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Part of that is making a distinction between Mass and other liturgical or para-liturgical services that are not Mass and don’t substitute for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Reception of Communion outside of Mass is not supposed to be a routine practice, it is normally only for certain circumstances such as bringing the Eucharist to the sick. So that’s why it’s okay to have Word and Communion Services at nursing homes. When a priest isn’t…

  9. John Patrick says:

    Our prayers and good wishes to the Bishop.

  10. No one should handle the eucharist besides a priest. If you read the documents from the 2nd Vatican Council, only in the case of an emergency should the laity distribute comunion. This is a step in the right direction. Next should be, eucharistic ministers gone.

    • If their wer no Eucharist Ministers the go,e void would go unserved and the Priest would be overwhelmed trying to serve all the people at any Mass. These people have gone trough extensive training on how to handle and respect the euchareat. They are a blessing to many.

      • Read the documents from Vatican 2. Eucharistic ministers are yet another scandle. Overwhelmed ? So it would take 5 more minutes on average to distribute our Lord properly.

  11. Bishop Vasa also clarified the document of the United States Catholic Conference titled “Faithful Citizenship”, noting a pro-abortion stance disqualifies candidates from consideration by faithful Catholics.

    Bravo Bishop Vasa for speaking the truth in season and out of season.

  12. Asbury Fox says:

    This is a good thing, but he has been Bishop of Santa Rosa for 7 years. Did it really need to be 7 years before action was taken? In this moment of episcopal corruption, renewal and restoration needs to be more urgent.

  13. Gary Lockhart says:

    “Eucharistic ministers are yet another scandle(sic).”

    You are confused. Only a validly ordained Priest may be referred to as a Eucharistic Minister which is unambiguously explained in Redemptionis Sacramentum, Chapter VII. What you meant to say is that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are a scandal, which they are as well as an abuse. Resorting to the use of an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion should only be done in extraordinary situations not because Father Droopy Drawers wants to end Mass four or five minutes early.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.