Coronavirus Resources and Information

Liturgical Guidelines
Effective May 19, 2021

In light of the full reopening of our churches, and the continued desire to follow sound liturgical principles as well as the most current scientific guidance to ensure the continued safety of the faithful, the following guidelines are to be applied in all parishes of the Diocese of Norwich until further notice.

Sunday Obligation

The general dispensation from attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will be ended as of Sunday, May 23, 2021 – the Solemnity of Pentecost.

Given the reality that the pandemic has not completely subsided, some persons may be prevented from attending Mass for legitimate reasons, including:

  • those suffering from serious pre-existing conditions that may make them more susceptible to falling ill from COVID-19;
  • those who are ill and homebound;
  • a caregiver in close contact with someone who:
    • has tested positive for any contagious disease, including COVID-19;
    • is in quarantine due to exposure to any contagion or residing with someone who is in quarantine.

State/CDC Guidelines Regarding Masks

The Diocese is following the Mask and face-covering requirements as outlined on the website. (reprinted below with link)

As of May 19, 2021, Connecticut's protocols regarding masks and face coverings were updated to align with the recently modified CDC recommendations. The protocols that are currently in effect statewide are as follows:


  • Masks not required


  • Vaccinated not required to wear masks
  • Unvaccinated must wear masks
  • Masks are required to be worn by everyone in certain settings such as healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare

**Download: Guidance document from the Connecticut Department of Public Health on the state's updated mask and face-covering requirements

General Guidelines

  • No social distancing will be required within the church.
    • All pews will be available for seating.
    • Pastors may consider designating a “social distance” section for those who are more vulnerable.
  • Any requirement for individuals to register in order to attend Mass is to be discontinued.
  • Church bulletins, as well as printed materials (books, holy cards, leaflets, etc.) are permitted.
  • Pastors are encouraged to continue live-streaming at least one (1) Sunday Mass.
  • Holy Water Fonts should be filled and restored to use.
  • Pastors are to ensure that the church, bathrooms, parish facilities, etc. are cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Parish or private functions for which parish halls, etc. may be rented must follow State guidelines.
    • There are no restrictions for these events in addition to the State mandates.

Liturgical Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass

  • Hymnals, Missals, Missalettes, etc. may be placed in pews.
  • Choirs and instrumentalists are allowed. 
  • Clergy may greet parishioners before or after Mass.
  • Altar servers are allowed, however, the use of altar servers to hold the Missal for the celebrant should be avoided.
  • There are no restrictions on the use of readers.
  • Holy Communion is to be distributed by clergy (priests/deacons) ONLY. An extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion may only take the place of priest/deacon who is “high risk” due to age or underlying health condition in distributing Holy Communion, provided the extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion is not also “high risk.”
  • Masks are required in the sanctuary by those who are not vaccinated but are optional for those who have been fully vaccinated. 
  • Collection baskets with handles passed by ushers are permitted.
  • The offertory procession is permitted.
  • The exchange of the sign of peace remains suspended.
  • Ciboria should remain covered until the distribution of Holy Communion.
  • Liturgical processions, e.g., May Crowning, Corpus Christi, etc. are allowed.

Procedures for the Distribution of Holy Communion

  • Holy Communion is to be given only under one species – consecrated Hosts.
  • Social distancing is not required for Communion lines, therefore, two Communion lines in the center aisle are permitted.
  • The faithful are to be reminded that masks are to be removed immediately before receiving Holy Communion and then replaced immediately after receiving.
  • Those distributing Holy Communion are required to wear a mask if they are not vaccinated but is optional for those who have been fully vaccinated.
  • Hands should be sanitized before distributing Holy Communion and after the final person receives.
  • Sanitizing fingers between communicants is required whenever contact is made with a communicant.
  • The use of any plexiglass barriers is to be discontinued.
  • The faithful are to be reminded that they may choose to receive either in the hand or on the tongue. Those who choose to receive on the tongue may not be discouraged or forbidden to do so.
  • The Celebrant’s chalice must not be shared.
    • Concelebrants should receive by means of intinction.
    • Deacons should only receive the consecrated Host.

Guidelines for other Liturgical and Sacramental Celebrations

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • Masks for priest and penitent are required for those who are not vaccinated but are optional for those who have been fully vaccinated.
  • Social distancing is no longer required. The use of traditional confessionals should be restored if not already in use.
  • Sanitization procedures between individual penitents are not required.

Weddings and Funerals

  • The above guidelines for Mass apply also to weddings and funerals.
  • The bride and groom are not required to wear masks


Please consult your local parish websites, bulletins, and social media or call your parish office for the most up-to-date information.

For details on how to make an Act of Spiritual Communion Click Here
For a list of Broadcast and Online Masses Click Here

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Updates will be posted here as they become available.


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    Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich
    201 Broadway
    Norwich, CT 06360-4328
    Phone: 860-887-9294