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Sioux City diocese cancels masses for at least 8 weeks due to coronavirus concerns
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Sioux City diocese cancels masses for at least 8 weeks due to coronavirus concerns

Sioux City Diocese

The Diocese of Sioux City announced Monday that all masses in its 24-county territory in Northwest Iowa have been cancelled for next eight weeks due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus. 

SIOUX CITY -- The Diocese of Sioux City on Monday canceled all Masses in its 24-county territory in Northwest Iowa for at least eight weeks to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

The move means no services will be held on Easter and during Holy Week, the high point of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year. 

"This has been the most difficult decision I have made during my time as bishop," Bishop R. Walker Nickless said in a statement. "The health and well-being of all people in the diocese, as well as all Catholics, is of the utmost importance at this time. I ask all the faithful for their understanding and to join me in prayer for the end to this public health crisis."

The diocese cited the Centers of Disease Control's recommendation that no gathering of 50 or more people take place during the coronavirus pandemic. Parishes will resume normal activities "when it is safe to do so," the diocese said in a statement.

As a result of Nickless' mandate issued Monday, Catholics within the diocese are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass. Services were held Sunday as scheduled but an order issued by the bishop on Friday allowed parishioners who are older, unwell or worried about their health to stay home from church.  

Under the mandates issued Monday, pastors are encouraged to broadcast private masses via electronic means for their parishioners. Churches may remain open for private prayer at the discretion of pastors. Confessions will be conducted by appointment.

Baptisms will be celebrated only with immediate family and godparents.

For wedding ceremonies, only immediate family members and witnesses are allowed to attend. Receptions can not be held in parishes, and clergy are not allowed to attend the wedding social functions.

Funerals may be celebrated only with immediate family members, and parishes cannot host funeral dinners. Vigil, wakes or other events should all be held the same day as the funeral.

All spring celebrations of the sacrament of confirmation have been suspended.

The Sioux City diocese is the latest religious organization to curtail worship services in recent days.

Sunnybrook Community Church and Central Baptist Church, two of the largest churches in Sioux City, canceled services Sunday due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church announced through a tweet Saturday night that that Bishop Laurie Haller is urging churches to suspend in-person worship services for the remainder of March. 

The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Sixth Street suspended all of its services, meetings and activities until further notice.

No coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Woodbury County as of Tuesday morning. 

Sioux City congregations make changes to worship services due to coronavirus concerns

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