March 27, 2002 - Coronavirus Update #2, Extended Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings


27 March 2020


Coronavirus Update #2, Extended Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

As the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic increases across the USA and various parts of the world, I am reminded of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” As a Church and individual families, with greater prayer and fervor we turn to Christ as a source of strength amidst challenge, confusion and difficulty.

On March 17, 2020 (PN BCZ 20/06), I issued a decree to suspend public celebration of Masses and all Church gatherings. It came with extreme anguish of heart, mind and soul. I have repeatedly preached about the gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to have to suspend the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass comes with great difficulty. I and the priests have shared the thirst we have for the smiling faces and prayerful responses of the faithful at Mass to return very soon.

Given the current mandates by Governor Dunleavy due to the increase of COVID-19 throughout the State of Alaska, all schools will be closed until May 1. In keeping with this decision and that of all the Region XII bishops, the following will be effective immediately until May 1 for the Diocese of Fairbanks:

• The suspension of public Masses and all other gatherings. Please pray that public gatherings will resume soon as it is safe to do so.
• All remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. We are reminded to “keep holy the Lord’s Day.”
• Priests will continue to offer daily private Mass and are encourage to livestream when possible.
• The public celebration of Holy Week liturgies are suspended. These liturgies will be live-streamed from the Cathedral and those parishes that have the capability.
• For those to be baptized and receive Full Communion into the Church at the Easter Vigil will be postponed until public Masses are resumed. Each parish will determine the time and date.
• First Holy Communion and Confirmations are postponed until after public Masses resume.

I realize this is extremely disappointing and I ask that the sacrifices that all make be united to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Please pray for our health care workers, supermarket employees and countless individuals who daily expose themselves to the threat of the Coronavirus to provide essential services.

Parishes are encouraged to open their church buildings for individual prayer, adoration, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions while maintaining physical distancing and other precautionary measures that health officials have recommended to minimize the threat.

I ask that you join me in prayer asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to intercede for us during this pandemic. Be assured that all of you are in my daily rosary and Mass intentions. May our hunger for the Eucharist and other Sacraments be a source of grace to strengthen our faith.

Sincerely in Christ,

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks

File: 20200327-COVID_19_Decree_2-_Continued_Suspension_of_Mass_and_Public_Gatherings.pdf

Together in Christ: CNS Responds to the Coronavirus

Together in Christ: CNS Responds to the Coronavirus At a time when society is reeling from the Coronavirus pandemic, the Church and its media – print, web, social, radio and television – are helping its people face this unprecedented challenge. The Holy Father together with the Bishops are calmly taking the necessary steps to prevent the contagion’s spread while at the same time bolstering spirits and praying for those who are most in need of care.

Catholic News Service is covering all aspects of the crisis, and we will continue to do so for as long as needed. What follows are a selection of stories from this week meant to inform, inspire and reassure. Catholic ethicists warn that “Decisions regarding the critical care of patients during the current crisis must not discriminate on the basis of disability or age.” The Vatican has asked Catholic bishops around the world to provide their faithful with resources to support personal and family prayer during Holy Week and at Easter. Defending life is not an abstract concept but a duty for all Christians and it means protecting the unborn, the poor, the sick, the unemployed and migrants, Pope Francis said. As people self-isolate and retreat from daily life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, priests and women religious have become beacons of hope globally as they mobilize in unconventional ways. As more and more countries start to feel the economic pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged business leaders to seek solutions that will not hurt employees and their families. People who cannot get to confession because of the coronavirus lockdown or another serious reason can go to God directly, be specific about their sins, request pardon and experience God’s loving forgiveness, Pope Francis said.

Online Resources to Practice Catholic Faith During Coronavirus

The following is a list of online and local resources to support your Catholic faith during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

KNOM at 780 AM & 96.1 FM for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region (Broadcast Schedule
KQHE at 92.7 FM for Fairbanks Area (Broadcast Schedule

Catholic TV - Daily Mass
Catholic Extension – Sunday Catholic Mass Online at
St. Gertrude the Great Church - Traditional Latin Mass

The Magnificat is free online right now for the homebound.
English Version
Spanish Version

Daily Readings
For USCCB Daily Readings visit
For USCCB Daily Readings - Audio

Other Resources:
The Diocese of Diocese of Saint Petersburg has a great list of resources for Families and Individuals at:

Coronavirus Update, Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings


17 March 2020

Coronavirus Update, Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Yesterday, I was on a phone conference with the governor’s office and faith leaders around the state related to the COVID-19 /Coronavirus pandemic. Doctor Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, predicts significant spreading of the virus over the next several weeks in the state. She acknowledged the moral conflict that significant social changes to combat the virus pose, especially for faith communities. This is a serious situation that requires our community as a whole to make significant changes to minimize the threat.

It is with this in mind that, effective March 18, the public celebration of Mass and other parish activities is suspended until April 3, at which time we will re-evaluate the situation. This includes all public liturgies, Masses, Benediction, Stations of the Cross, communal penance services, faith formation classes, and other types of communal church activities.

While I am taking the extraordinary step of dispensing Catholics from their Sunday/Holy Day obligation to Mass, it is important to remember that we are still expected to “keep holy the Sabbath.” The faithful are reminded that while we may not gather together for the Sacrifice of the Mass, individuals and families should pray the readings of the day and offer a spiritual communion asking for the grace to receive Christ with humility as did our Blessed Mother, Mary. We will be working on a way to stream the private celebration of Mass via our diocesan website and other social media outlets.

I realize that the inability to attend Mass is an enormous sacrifice. For our communities that have the benefit of regular celebration of the Mass and other Sacraments, this offers an opportunity for us to be spiritually united with our brothers and sisters in remote communities throughout the diocese and the world who go weeks or months without the benefit of the Sacraments. This should create within all of us a holy longing to receive our Lord and Savior in the Eucharist and a renewed reverence for Christ physically present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Parishes are encouraged to open their church buildings for individual prayer while maintaining social distancing and other precautionary measures that health officials have recommended to minimize the threat.

This is a difficult decision for me to make, but I believe it is important for the health and safety of our communities. Every Mass I offer during this crisis will include a specific intention for the health and well-being of you and your families and an end to this pandemic. Please join me in this prayer intention. May our hunger for the Eucharist and the other Sacraments be a source of grace for us.

Sincerely in Christ,

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks

File: Coronavirus_Update_Suspension_of_Mass_and_Public_Gatherings_17_March_2020.pdf

Lenten Message from Bishop Chad Zielinski


4 March 2020

Lenten Message

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Lent is about returning to the basics. Yes, the three traditional pillars of Lent that we heard in the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday: prayer, fasting and almsgiving, very much help us get reconnected to the basics of our faith. Pope Francis, in his Lenten message this year, invites us to return to the basic message of our faith: the Paschal Mystery as the basis of conversion. He wrote:

“Christian joy flows from listening to, and accepting, the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This kerygma sums up the mystery of a love “so real, so true, so concrete, that it invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue” (Christus Vivit, 117). Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do with as we will. Rather, life is born of the love of God our Father, from his desire to grant us life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).”

Read more: Lenten Message from Bishop Chad Zielinski