Decree for the celebration of earlier Christmas Vigil Masses

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has issued a decree permitting the celebration of Christmas Vigil Masses beginning at 3 pm in parishes throughout the diocese on Saturday December 24, in order to provide more options to the faithful seeking to safely attend the Mass on Christmas.

The decree states that the earlier vigil time represents a one-time exemption for Christmas 2020 because of the extraordinary situation created by the pandemic, the larger number of people expected to attend Mass, and the need to socially distance and follow other restrictions to safeguard health.

“With this provision, it is my desire and hope that each parish priest or rector ensure that enough Masses are celebrated in order to allow the reasonable accommodation of all the faithful who wish to personally attend a Holy Day Mass for Christmas,” the bishop said.

While the exemption is only an hour earlier than the permitted vigil time, it will enable parishes to add one or even two more vigil Mases to their schedule over the Christmas observance.

In a recent virtual conversation sponsored by the Leadership Institute and the Development Office of the diocese, the bishop told those who participated online that he approved the earlier vigil time because given current restrictions he wants to avoid people being turned away from Mass at Christmas—the time of year that many Catholics and their families who are not normally at Mass reconnect with the Church.

During the virtual conversation, the bishop also said he is asking pastors to consider opening parish halls, auditoriums and other spaces as overflow areas where people will be able to remotely participate in the Mass being celebrated in the church and communion will be brought to them.

In announcing the earlier Christmas vigil time, the bishop reiterated that people should register in advance for Mass because it enables a parish to plan and to notify parishioners if someone should test positive for COVID-19 at a Mass they attended.

Click here to view the decree.