Statement of Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez Regarding Reinstating the Obligation to Attend Sunday Mass

“We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 in as individuals and
families.  It has been a time of acute hardship and struggle, of
separation and isolation.  It has also had an impact on our lives of
faith.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout
this challenging period and is most especially near to us when we
encounter him in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist offers us His healing and
peace, His mercy and reconciliation.  It is now time for everyone to
return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy.

As many aspects of life are now returning to normalcy, each Catholic
Bishop in Pennsylvania will reinstate the obligation to attend Mass in
person on Sundays and Holy Days beginning on Sunday, August 15, 2021,
the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Bishops previously jointly decided to dispense  the faithful from
this obligation in March of 2020 in order to provide for the common good
given concerns over the developing pandemic.  Now, with the impact of
the pandemic considerably reduced, it is again possible for the faithful
to assemble for the Eucharist. It is time to lift the dispensation from
the obligation.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days comes from our
Baptism as Christians.  Baptism compels Christians to unite themselves
with Christ at the altar in his saving Sacrifice of the Cross.
Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a
testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2182). This is the foundation
for the law of the Church that binds Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays
and Holy Days (Code of Canon Law, canon 1247) and the Christian way
fully to observe the Third Commandment, to keep holy the Lord’s Day
(Deuteronomy 5: 12; Exodus 31: 15; Catechism of the Catholic Church,
nos. 2180-2181).

This obligation, as is always the case, does not apply to those who are
seriously ill, have a serious health risk, as well as those who have
serious anxiety about being a part of large groups at this time.
Likewise, the obligation does not apply to those who care for those who
cannot attend Mass in person (Catechism of the Catholic Church_, no.
2181).  Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy
Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the Death and
Resurrection of the Lord, reading the Sacred Scriptures, and uniting
themselves to Christ in his worship of the Father of us all.  Those who
are legitimately excused are also encouraged to view a broadcast of the
Mass which is intended for those who cannot participate in person.

As Bishops, we welcome this moment of the reinstatement of the
obligation for all Catholics in Pennsylvania.  This is a moment to thank
God anew for the great gift of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus
to us in his Holy Body and Blood as well as the joy of gathering
together as people of faith.”


Most Reverend Nelson Pérez                                     _
Archbishop of Philadelphia




Inquirer Article

Archbishop Pérez Joins with Other Cuban American Bishops to Issue Joint Statement Regarding the Protests in Cuba

“In dramatic and courageous images that have been seen throughout the world, the people of Cuba went to the streets in massive demonstrations of solidarity, in towns, villages and cities on July 11 and 12. Their motto ‘Patria y Vida’ expressed their frustrations as they experience record cases of Covid-19, a lack of vaccines, adequate medical care and needed supplies – inhuman circumstances that add to the existing lack of food and essential human necessities. Their chant of ‘Libertad’ underscores their desire for every Cuban citizen to enjoy basic human rights, as recognized as part of our human dignity by the United Nations, and defended for centuries by the Catholic Church in its social teaching.


As Cubans and as bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, we are ever-mindful of the constant suffering and frustration of our brothers and sisters on the Island. We recognize that, while hundreds of thousands have experienced the need to emigrate, in order to enjoy basic human rights and a future filled with possibilities, those who have not – by choice or inability to do so – as Cubans in Cuba, are to be the actors of their own future and aspirations. The right and courage of the people in Cuba to raise their voice publicly, casting away their fear of repression and revealing authentic solidarity as a people, are acknowledged and applauded.


We, Cuban-American bishops, join in solidarity with the Cuban people in their quest for responses to their human rights and needs. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive reaction of the government to the peaceful manifestations, recognizing that ‘violence engenders violence.’ Such a reaction seems to negate the basic Cuban principle of having ‘una patria con todos y para el bien de todos’ (a homeland with all and for the good of all). We stand in solidarity with those detained because they have voiced their opinions. We pray for their families and call for their immediate release.


Finally, we call on international governments and all charitable organizations to collaborate in assisting in this urgent humanitarian crisis for the sake of the suffering people of Cuba, especially the sick and the poor. We commend the care of Caritas Cubana, as it continues to mediate – with ever so limited resources – a response to the basic human needs of the people of the Island, recognizing that the alleviation of suffering is a moral imperative.


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As always, together with our brother-bishops in Cuba, and our brothers and sisters inside and outside the Island. We continue to place our trust in the motherly gaze of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity.”


Most Reverend Nelson Pérez – Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Felipe Estevez – Bishop of St. Augustine

Most Reverend Manuel Cruz – Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Most Reverend Octavio Cisneros – Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ, 


The readings for this Sunday speak of Divine election, in two interrelated ways. Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians that – as Christians – we are chosen and elected by God to share in the life of his Son by grace. It is always good to remind ourselves that we are not Catholic Christians because of genetic or cultural reasons, but because we have been claimed by the Trinity in Baptism, adopted as his own beloved children. What a gift to meditate on in these summer months!


The second kind of Divine election is God’s free choice to choose certain members of his people to share in his mission and ministry. We find this in the Old Testament calls of the prophets, such as Amos, related in the first reading. Amos was not a professional religious figure, but a dresser of sycamore trees. Yet God called him to announce a message of repentance to the northern kingdom of Israel. Indeed, God does not choose the qualified; he qualifies the chosen!


It is important to us to reflect on how this Divine election continues to this day. We can encourage those who are “seeking” in terms of faith to find a home in the Catholic Church. We can also do our part to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I am convinced that there are young men in our parish, for instance, who would make excellent priests. Christ calls who he wills, but it is for us to offer our encouragement, support, and prayers if we encounter someone who might have a religious vocation. In this way, we will help to ensure that the Gospel continues to reach to the ends of the earth!


Finally, this week I celebrated my first anniversary since arriving here at St. Francis de Sales Parish. It has been quite a year – and it has really been enjoyable. I’m grateful to all of you for your love for God and your support of our parish. 


May God be Blessed!


-Father Eric Banecker 


Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – July 4, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Happy Independence Day! We give thanks to God for all the blessings of these United States of America while we ask him to help us implement more effectively every day the founding ideals of our nation.

As I mentioned in last week’s letter, everything that happens in a parish begins with the sacramental encounter with Christ and flows out from there. Two sacraments uniquely connected to each other are Eucharist and Penance/Reconciliation/Confession (depending on your preferred term!).

When a priest celebrated the Eucharist, all Christians who are present participate first through their prayerful correspondence to the celebration. In a mysterious way, in fact, the whole Communion of Saints is present at the celebration of the Mass. Of course, the most privileged manner of participation in the Eucharist is the reception of Holy Communion. The reception of Holy Communion is not the kind of thing we take lightly. It is, instead, the closest encounter we will have with God until we see him face to face. That implies that we are living out that daily conversion of mind and heart to which Jesus calls his disciples in the Gospel.

This is how Penance relates to the Eucharist, insofar as through it we are reconciled to God and his Church, thus enabling us to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace. While we may go to Confession more or less frequently depending on various factors, I recommend going four times a year. The Church has a strong tradition of going at minimum once a year in preparation for the “Easter duty.”

Here at DeSales, United by the Most Blessed Sacrament, we are happy to have our annual Forty Hours celebration to adore our Eucharistic Lord. Our celebration this year will be January 23-25, 2022 and our homilist will be Father William Trader, a Norbertine priest who celebrated his first Mass here in 1974! I am also happy to announce that our Wednesday 5pm Holy Hours – with Vespers and Confessions available – will return after Labor Day. I also encourage you to make use of Confession times on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. I will be hearing confessions from the confessionals in the back moving forward.

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker