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November 13, 2020 Message to the Faithful from Bishop Jaime Soto

Dear Friends in Christ:

I have directed the pastors in parishes that are located in “purple tier” counties to offer Mass and provide to the Faithful the opportunity to attend virtually, either by live-steaming or other visual technology starting this Sunday, November 15, 2020, the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. Pastors presently offering Mass outdoors may continue to do so, weather permitting.

This is a heartbreaking decision.  My brother priests and many parishioners have worked very hard to provide safe, responsible, outdoor and indoor environments for the Faithful to praise God and receive the sacraments.  I am confident that the protocols in place have significantly reduced the risk of infection from the coronavirus and influenza in Catholic churches throughout the Diocese. 

Unfortunately, due to lack of diligence in other social sectors, the rates of COVID-19 infection are surging to dangerous levels.  Even our own efforts will not be enough to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our community.  For this reason, in the “purple tier” counties, Mass, indoors, is to be offered with no more than 10 people physically present and then be provided to the Faithful through the virtual mediums available.

Pastors have been asked to provide sufficient opportunity to receive the Eucharist in outdoor spaces following transmissions of the Mass offered.  These times should be advertised so that the Faithful can conveniently approach the reception of the Eucharist daily.  These opportunities should be proximate to the times when Mass is offered and then extended as needed (minimum one hour).  The priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist will follow the usual public health protocols for the distribution of communion. 

Under these extraordinary circumstances, all efforts should be made to provide due reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and a respectful disposition for those who approach the Sacrament.

Some pastors, due to their particular pastoral circumstances, may elect to provide the so-called “drive-in” protocol for those wishing to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass.  This protocol allows the Faithful to attend while in their cars as Mass is offered outdoors in public view.  Communion is then distributed at the proper time by the minister going to each car individually.   This option will be permitted on an experimental basis until Sunday, January 3, 2021.

Catholics in the Diocese of Sacramento are still dispensed from attending Sunday Mass.  They may keep holy the Lord’s Day by attending Mass through the internet or other media as well as practicing other religious devotions.

Priests are urged to offer a sufficient number of Masses on Sundays and during the week for the faithful to participate safely and with peace of mind.  Regularly scheduled occasions for confession should be offered at least weekly.  We will remain keenly attentive to the pastoral needs of the sick and the homebound.

By all these means, my brother priests, deacons and I pledge to reverently accompany the People of God through this anguishing valley of tears.  May the abiding diligence to our pastoral duties provide comfort and instill hope in the persevering presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

The coming Advent season reminds us of the need to remain vigilant. With greater reason we must remain vigilant and steadfast in caring for one another, especially for the sake of the most vulnerable among us.

Remember:

  • Wear face masks
  • Maintain physical distancing
  • Cooperate with contact tracing programs
  • Hand wash frequently
  • Stay at home if you are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms
  • Get tested for the COVID-19 virus
  • Get the flu vaccination

Join me in asking the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary for God’s mercy to end the Pandemic, bring healing to all those afflicted and provide protection to their caregivers.

Respectfully,

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento


Mensaje a los Fieles del Mons. Jaime Soto - 13 de noviembre de 2020

Estimados Amigos en Cristo:

He ordenado a los párrocos de las parroquias que están ubicadas en los condados del "nivel morada" que ofrezcan Misa y brinden a los Fieles la oportunidad de asistir virtualmente, ya sea por transmisión en vivo u otra tecnología visual a partir de este domingo, 15 de noviembre de 2020, el Treinta-Tercer Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario.  Los párrocos ofreciendo Misas al aire libre puedan continuar así mientras el clima les permite.

Esta es una decisión dolorosa. Mis hermanos sacerdotes y muchos feligreses han trabajado muy duro para proporcionar ambientes seguros, responsables, al aire libre y en el interior para que los fieles alaben a Dios y reciban los sacramentos. Estoy seguro de que los protocolos establecidos han reducido significativamente el riesgo de infección por coronavirus e influenza en las iglesias católicas de toda la Diócesis.

Desafortunadamente, debido a la falta de diligencia en otros sectores sociales, las tasas de infección por COVID-19 están aumentando a niveles peligrosos. Incluso nuestros propios esfuerzos no serán suficientes para proteger a los miembros más vulnerables de nuestra comunidad. Por esta razón, en los condados del “nivel morado”, la Misa, al interior, se ofrecerá con no más de 10 personas físicamente presentes y se proporcionará a los Fieles a través de los medios virtuales disponibles.

Se les ha pedido a los sacerdotes que brinden suficientes oportunidades para recibir la Eucaristía en espacios al aire libre después de las transmisiones de la Misa ofrecida. Estos tiempos deben anunciarse para que los fieles puedan acercarse cómodamente a la recepción de la Eucaristía todos los días. Estas oportunidades deben ser próximas a las horas en que se ofrece la Misa y extendiéndose según sea necesario (mínimo una hora). El sacerdote, diácono o ministro extraordinario de la Eucaristía seguirá los protocolos habituales de salud pública para la distribución de la comunión.

En estas circunstancias extraordinarias, se deben hacer todos los esfuerzos posibles para brindar la debida reverencia al Santísimo Sacramento de la Eucaristía y una disposición respetuosa para aquellos que se acercan al Sacramento.

Algunos sacerdotes, debido a sus circunstancias pastorales particulares, pueden elegir para proveer el llamado protocolo estilo "drive-in" para aquellos que deseen asistir al Sacrificio de la Misa. Este protocolo permite que los Fieles asistan en sus autos mientras se ofrece la Misa al aire libre a la vista del público. Luego, el ministro distribuirá la comunión en el momento adecuado, yendo a cada automóvil individualmente. Esta opción estará permitida de forma experimental hasta el domingo 3 de enero de 2021.

A los católicos de la Diócesis de Sacramento todavía se les dispensa de asistir a la Misa dominical. Pueden santificar el Día del Señor asistiendo la Misa a través del Internet u otros medios, así como practicando otras devociones religiosas.

Se inste a los sacerdotes que ofrezcan un número suficiente de misas los domingos y durante la semana para que los fieles puedan participar con seguridad y tranquilidad. Se deben ofrecer ocasiones de confesión programadas regularmente al menos semanalmente. Seguiremos muy atentos a las necesidades pastorales de los enfermos y los confinados en sus hogares.
Por todos estos medios, mis hermanos sacerdotes, diáconos y yo nos comprometemos a acompañar con reverencia al Pueblo de Dios a través de este angustioso valle de lágrimas. Que la constante diligencia en nuestros deberes pastorales brinde consuelo e infunda esperanza en la presencia perseverante de Jesús, el Buen Pastor.

La próxima temporada de Adviento nos recuerda la necesidad de permanecer alerta. Con mayor razón debemos permanecer vigilantes y firmes en el cuidado mutuo, especialmente por el bien de los más vulnerables entre nosotros.

Recordando:

  • Use mascarillas
  • Mantener el distanciamiento físico
  • Cooperar con los programas de rastreo de contactos
  • Lávese las manos con frecuencia
  • Quédese en casa si se siente enfermo o presenta síntomas
  • Hágase la prueba del virus COVID-19
  • Vacúnese contra la gripe

Únanse a mí para pedir la intercesión de nuestra Santísima Madre María por la misericordia de Dios para poner fin a la pandemia, traer sanación a todos los afligidos y brindar protección a sus cuidadores.

Atentamente,

+Jaime Soto
Obispo de Sacramento


Message to the Faithful from Bishop Jaime Soto - Coming Back to the Table

May 29, 2020

 Dear Friends in Christ:

The Catholic community in the Diocese of Sacramento will be able to celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, around the sacred altars of their parish churches on Sunday, June 14th.

I am lifting the heartbreaking suspension of public celebrations of the Sacrifice of the Mass starting on Monday, June 8th. This will help pastors ready the churches for the glorious Feast of Corpus Christi. Parishes that are prepared to implement all the necessary public health protocols may begin offering Mass with the Faithful on June 8th.

My brother priests and I are taking all the steps to ensure the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated in a manner that gives peace of mind to all our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus.

The public guidelines I recently shared for resuming public celebrations of the Mass have been updated to reflect our continued work with public health officials. These guidelines are available on the diocesan website. These guidelines include limiting attendance to the lower of either 25% of church capacity or a maximum of 100 congregants. Pastors will also make these guidelines available to their parishioners. Please consult with your local parish to confirm the schedule of Masses and other directives intended to provide a safe environment for everyone in the church assembly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended but conditions have improved sufficiently so that we can begin to offer the Mass and other sacraments in a cautious and responsible manner. It is still necessary to maintain physical-distancing. The wearing of masks in church is strongly recommended. Those who are 65 years of age and older should remain at home. Those with a vulnerable health condition should also continue to stay in their homes. To continue to protect the most vulnerable among us, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still in effect. If you feel sick or have any flu-like symptoms, do not come to Church. Stay home. Again, please consult the diocesan website or your parish for more information on how to be safe and protect one another from the coronavirus contagion.

With these new guidelines in place, we are still not able to come back to the table as in the past. As we adapt to these changes, we are all called to greater charity and understanding during this transition. Our continued vigilance respects those who are afflicted and honors those who risk their own lives in caring for them. The patient efforts each of us makes are an act of Christian solidarity that will strengthen the whole Body of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus has been the Good Shepherd throughout the Lenten and Easter Seasons. He has also been our wise, good Teacher instructing us through the sacrifices we have endured. These tribulations will continue for many of us. Our sharing in the Lord’s passion has offered a communion in the Lord’s saving death.

As we prepare to approach the Lord’s altar of sacrifice, may you know His consoling mercy and His encouraging grace. This Pentecost Sunday, we will continue to gather behind the closed doors as did the first disciples. The Blessed Mother Mary was in their company as they prayed. She will certainly be with each of you and your families. Pray with her as she intercedes for all of us. Her example teaches us to be open to the Spirit’s promptings even in these uncertain days. The Holy Spirit will help us to welcome the Lord Jesus with open hands and hearts as the Feast of Corpus Christi draws closer.

Be assured that Bishop Weigand, my brother priests and I continue to offer our Masses and pray for all of you so that soon we may taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Respectfully,

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento

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Mensaje a los Fieles del Mons. Jaime Soto - Volviendo al Altar

29 de mayo de 2020

Queridos Amigos en Cristo:

La comunidad católica en la Diócesis de Sacramento podrá celebrar la Fiesta del Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo, Corpus Christi, alrededor de los altares sagrados de sus templos parroquiales el domingo 14 de junio.

Estoy levantando la dolorosa suspensión de las celebraciones públicas del Sacrificio de la Misa a partir del lunes, 8 de junio.  Esto ayudará a los sacerdotes a preparar las iglesias para la gloriosa Fiesta del Corpus Christi.  Las parroquias que están preparadas para implementar todos los protocolos de salud pública necesarios pueden comenzar a ofrecer misa con los fieles el 8 de junio.

Mis hermanos sacerdotes y yo estamos dando todos los pasos para asegurar que la Fiesta del Corpus Christi se celebre de una manera que brinde tranquilidad a todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas en el Señor Jesús.

Las guías públicas que compartí recientemente para resumir las celebraciones públicas de la Misa se han actualizado para reflejar nuestro trabajo continuo con los funcionarios de salud pública. Estas guías están disponibles en el sitio web diocesano.  Estas guías incluyen limitar la asistencia al menor de dos opciones: 25% de la capacidad de la iglesia o un máximo de 100 congregantes. Los sacerdotes también pondrán estas guías a disposición de sus feligreses.  Consulte con su parroquia local para confirmar el horario de misas y otras directivas destinadas a proporcionar un ambiente seguro para todos en la asamblea del templo.

La pandemia de COVID-19 no ha terminado, pero las condiciones han mejorado lo suficiente como para que podamos comenzar a ofrecer la Misa y otros sacramentos de una manera prudente y responsable. Todavía es necesario mantener el distanciamiento social. Se recomienda usar mascarillas en la iglesia.  Los mayores de 65 años deben quedarse en casa. Aquellos con una condición de salud vulnerable también deben continuar en sus hogares. Para mejor asegurar la protección a los más vulnerables entre nosotros, la dispensa de la obligación de asistir a la misa dominical aún está vigente.  Si se siente enfermo o tiene síntomas similares a los de la gripe, no venga a la Iglesia.  Permanezcan en casa.  Una vez más, consulte el sitio web diocesano o su parroquia para obtener más información sobre cómo estar seguros y protegerse mutuamente del contagio del coronavirus.

Con estas nuevas guías establecidas, todavía no podemos volver a la mesa como en el pasado.  A medida que nos adaptamos a estos cambios, todos estamos llamados a una mayor caridad y comprensión durante esta transición.  Nuestra vigilancia continuada respeta a los afligidos y honra a quienes arriesgan sus propias vidas al cuidarlos. Los esfuerzos que cada uno de nosotros hacemos son un acto de solidaridad cristiana que fortalecerá todo el Cuerpo de Cristo.

Nuestro Señor Jesús ha sido el Buen Pastor durante las temporadas de Cuaresma y Pascua.  Él también ha sido nuestro sabio y buen Maestro al instruirnos a través de los sacrificios que hemos soportado.  Estas tribulaciones continuarán para muchos de nosotros.  Nuestra participación en la pasión del Señor ha ofrecido una comunión en la muerte salvadora del Señor.

Mientras nos preparamos para acercarnos al altar del sacrificio del Señor, ojalá que conozcan Su misericordia consoladora y Su gracia alentadora.  Este domingo de Pentecostés, seguimos reuniéndonos a puerta cerrada como lo hicieron los primeros discípulos.  La Santísima Madre María estuvo presente acompañándolos mientras rezaban.  Ella seguramente estará con cada uno de ustedes y sus familias.  Oren con ella mientras ella intercede por todos nosotros.  Su ejemplo nos enseña a estar dóciles a los impulsos del Espíritu, incluso en estos días inciertos.  El Espíritu Santo nos ayudará a recibir al Señor Jesús con las manos y los corazones abiertos a medida que se acerca la Fiesta del Corpus Christi.

Tengan la seguridad de que el Mons. Weigand, mis hermanos sacerdotes y este servidor continuamos ofreciendo nuestras misas y orando por todos ustedes para que pronto podamos saborear y ver la bondad del Señor.

Atentamente,

+Jaime Soto
Obispo de Sacramento

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Quick Links: Pastoral Message | Decree
Español: Mensaje Pastoral | Decreto

March 17, 2020 Pastoral Message

My Dear Friends in Christ:

The Lord God has awakened us to conversion during this Lenten Season as we more closely unite ourselves with our neighbors in California and around the world responding to the alarming pandemic of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.

The decision to suspend public celebrations of the Mass, along with the other necessary public health precautions, does not suspend the evangelical urgency of repentance and renewal during this Lenten Season. We are particularly called to give witness to personal repentance and renewal for the sake of our own salvation and the redemption of the world.

The outbreak has disrupted some of the habitual Lenten approaches and attitudes forcing us to re-examine our individual and ecclesial disposition to this Sacred Season.  Our common baptism is a share in the royal priesthood of the Lord Jesus.  St. Paul reminds all the baptized in his letter to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1.24) Though the public celebration of Mass is suspended, all the disciples of the Lord Jesus need “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12.1) These words of Pauline wisdom should direct our personal and pastoral conduct during this difficult public health emergency so that the Lord’s healing mercy may continue to bear fruit in our personal lives and the life of the Church in Sacramento.

This public health emergency should make us reconsider the kind of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and charity needed for ourselves as well as the Church.  God’s mysterious providence is working in the midst of the confusion among political leaders and public health officials.  Though this moment may not be how we imagine Lent, heed the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (II Cor. 6.2) Let us practice the evangelical qualities of patience, prudence, gratitude, and joy.  Pray that the Lord may grant us the clarity of faith to see the wise and merciful hands of the divine potter tenderly molding us into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus.

May our Blessed Mother Mary stand together with us in the shadow of her Son’s cross so that we might come to know the joy of His glorious resurrection.  May her tender intercession bring healing to all who are afflicted, eternal rest to those who have died, and comfort to all those who mourn. May her maternal affection cause us not to lose hope but to hunger more deeply for the Bread of Life and thirst more longingly for the Chalice of Salvation.

Respectfully,

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento


March 17, 2020 Decree

DECREE

With a heavy heart, conscious of the accelerating rates of coronavirus infection, also known as COVID-19, I am suspending the public celebration of Sunday and weekday Masses for the Diocese of Sacramento in California until further notice.

This pastoral directive cooperates with the increased public health precautions issued by local, state, and federal officials in order to protect vulnerable populations from contact with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

As with the previous pastoral decrees issued on March 11, 2020 and March 13, 2020, this decree is especially intended to benefit those members of the Faithful who are sixty years of age and older as well as those with vulnerable health conditions.

The dispensation to all members of the Catholic Faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday will also continue until further notice.

Parish churches will maintain the regular hours, especially on Sundays, to be open for private prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Priests are to privately offer Sunday Mass pro populo (for the people) and encouraged to daily offer Mass imploring the Lord’s mercy.

Priests are to provide scheduled times for individual confessions.  Where possible the schedule should be expanded.  Priests should continue the laudable tradition of being available for confession and the anointing of the sick upon request.

Weddings and Funerals may be provided but should be limited to immediate family.

Further directives and guidance will be provided to priests and deacons for the prudent and practical celebration of sacraments during this public health emergency.

It is recommended that Communal Baptisms be suspended until further notice.  Pastors should exercise prudential judgment regarding individual pastoral cases.

I remind the Catholic Faithful to properly observe the third commandment, Keep Holy the Lord’s Day.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:  On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest.” (CCC, 2185)

I encourage the faithful to offer a rosary on Sundays for the intention of all those afflicted by the virus, COVID-19 as well as for the sanctification of the Faithful and Clergy during this Lenten Season.  I recommend a family recitation of the rosary as a healthy and holy practice during Lent as well as throughout the year.

All the Faithful should seek with greater intention to consecrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day, with prayer and attention given to building up the family.  Other pastoral and spiritual resources will be made available to assist in keeping holy Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  Please refer to the Diocesan website, the local parish website, or make use of My Parish app.

I instruct the pastors of parishes in the Diocese to educate the faithful about this directive as well as other public health precautions to be observed in their parishes at this time.

Please pray for those afflicted with COVID-19, their families, and all caregivers. May the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary bring us the healing mercy and grace of her Son, Jesus.

Given at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Sacramento on this seventeenth day of March, in the year of the Our Lord, two thousand twenty.

+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento


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