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Reopening Plans

Due to constantly changing regulations during this challenging time, diocesan guidelines are updated regularly. The following have been developed after careful consultation with various parties, including certain decrees from the Vatican, as well as input from health and governmental directives and guidelines.

October 13, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachment:

The purpose of the attached document is to provide both parameters, guidelines, and suggestions to assist parish leaders and parish communities in planning for Christmas liturgies during these difficult times of the ongoing pandemic. 

As you know, we are dealing with a constantly evolving situation in terms of the infection rate, governmental regulations, and medical advice, therefore this guidance is subject to change at any time. Furthermore, as with the celebration of Holy Week and the Triduum, the Holy See may also issue new liturgical advice or laws.

September 28, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachment:

This document seeks to update some of the provisions for the public celebration of the Mass and other sacraments.

July 17, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachment:

In addition, there are two items that are worth restating based on inquiries from several parish leaders:

  1. Contact Tracing for people attending Mass – New York State does not require contact tracing for people attending Mass. The same is true for the Diocese. Having said that, the Diocese expects that the parish leader with the help of their COVID team will assess if there is a greater need for contact tracing.  An example of this might be a parish in a vacation area or in any area where there are a significant number of worshippers that are not part of the regular parish community. Therefore the decision about contact tracing at Mass is left to the leadership team at the parish to assess and take action.
  2. Singing at Mass- As stated in the guidelines from May 21, 2020: “A music ministry is possible for liturgies, using a minimum number of musicians (cantor, organist, etc.) social distancing must be maintained. For this reason, a choir is NOT permitted at this stage. The FDLC document provides some helpful suggestions concerning music ministry (cf. https://FDLC.org/COVID)”

Please note that this guideline does not address parishioners singing.  Also, there is the possibility that a parish leader and team may take a more strict process if in their assessment that is best for their parish (i.e. instrumental music only or no chanting by the celebrant, etc.).

June 29, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachment:

June 9, 2020

A Return to Public Mass

Bishop Scharfenberger offers words of encouragement as parishioners prepare to return to their local parishes in the coming weeks

June 6, 2020


In light of Governor Cuomo’s announcement June 6 that houses of worship may resume public gatherings at 25 percent capacity beginning immediately, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has announced that any parishes in the Diocese of Albany that are able to offer public liturgies while maintaining safety protocols related to COVID-19 may do so at any time.

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in place, so those who are vulnerable or even simply uncomfortable attending a public liturgy are encouraged to remain at home and view Mass via livestreams, which will continue in local parishes. (For livestream information, visit rcda.org/livemass)

“On this weekend, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity and look forward to next weekend’s celebration of Corpus Christi, we are ever more aware of and grateful for the great gift of the Eucharist. We know our people are hungering to return to their churches and to the sacraments, and their priests and parish leaders are hungering to offer this spiritual food to their people,” said Bishop Scharfenberger, who has kept churches open throughout the pandemic so local Catholics could pray privately. “I am happy to announce that any churches that can do so safely may resume the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.”

Parishes throughout the Diocese have been working on plans to ensure they can meet safety standards that will keep the six-foot social distancing requirement in place throughout Mass.

In addition, many other protocols must be met in order for parishes to open. (Please review posts below to view detailed parish guidelines and protocols.) The Diocese of Albany has enlisted the help of health professionals in creating its guidelines and has shared them with local authorities in its 14 counties.

Local Catholics are urged to check with their parishes before planning to attend a Mass, as every parish has unique procedures and protocols and will have different ways of offering public Mass, reserving seats, logging visits, etc. In addition, because many priests serving in parishes throughout the Diocese are themselves vulnerable, they may choose to (and are encouraged to) opt out of serving if they have concerns about their health and safety. In those cases, a local parish may join with another local parish for public liturgies.

Parishioners should bring/wear their own masks and, if possible, a bottle of hand sanitizer for use upon entering, before receiving Communion, after receiving Communion, and after exiting the church. Catholics should plan on restricted seating, a change in the reception of Communion in order to ensure social distancing, exit strategies to ensure social distancing, etc. Visit rcda.org/coronavirus and follow diocesan social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates on the return to public Masses and other COVID-related information.

May 23, 2020

Today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachment:

Be advised this document is a preparatory aid for those who are considering Parking Lot Masses as a future option for their parish. This document in no way grants permission to offer such public liturgies at this time. Such permission will be granted sometime in the near future.

May 21, 2020

Reopening Plans

Relevant to the Governor’s latest announcement, today’s COVID-19 update includes the following information and related attachments:

Moreover, and per New York State mandate, keep in mind public liturgies in churches are, at present, limited to 10 persons only.

Read previously released Timely Instructions

April 2, 2020

Downloads Include:

March 31, 2020

Diocesan Guidelines Related to COVID-19 Prevention

Due to constantly changing regulations during this challenging time, these guidelines are updated regularly. (Latest update made on 3-31-2020, 12 p.m.)

Please understand that the following have been developed after careful consultation with various parties, including certain decrees from the Vatican, as well as input from health and governmental directives and guidelines.

Public Masses and Gatherings

As of March 22, 2020, at 8 p.m., in accordance with the governor’s executive order, the Diocese announced that all public liturgies are canceled until further notice. This includes baptisms, funerals, and weddings. Emergency sacraments are permitted; parishioners should contact their pastor in the case of a baptism or anointing needed in an urgent situation.

Parishes are permitted to livestream Masses in order to provide spiritual support to the faithful. During livestreamed liturgies, the doors to the church will be locked to prevent people from gathering. In addition, a minimal number of ministers should be involved in the liturgy: priest-celebrant, lector, cantor, organist, server and camera operator. Social distancing requirements must be maintained at all times. For a list of parishes providing livestream Masses, visit rcda.org/livemass.


Churches may remain open, but must follow public restrictions currently in place (i.e. social distancing, not becoming a place of gathering, no congregate services, regular and often localized sanitizing of space, etc.). This allows individuals access for prayer.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Regularly scheduled parish reconciliation times are prohibited. The faithful may call a priest and arrange to meet for individual reconciliation as long as various guidelines are followed (social distancing, sanitizing, hygiene, etc.)

Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick may be permitted in dire circumstances and when a proper request is submitted. Where an anointing is given to a person in isolation (in a hospital, for example) all physical contact precautions should be taken and governmental/medical regulations followed.


As funeral homes are exempt, funeral services with a minister may be provided at the funeral home and/or graveside, as long as they abide by restrictions placed by civil authorities.

Holy Week and Easter

  • The Celebration of the Chrism Mass is postponed to a later date yet to be determined.
  • Palm Sunday Masses are to be celebrated by the priest alone without the faithful in attendance. (Or celebrated according to livestream guidelines.) There will be no blessing of, or distribution of, palms in any parishes.
  • The liturgies of the Sacred Triduum will be livestreamed from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishop Scharfenberger presiding. The livestream will be available on the diocesan website: www.rcda.org/livestream and on the diocesan Facebook page. The schedule of liturgies is as follows:

Sunday, April 5, 11 a.m.
Palm Sunday Mass, Bishop presiding

Holy Thursday, April 9, 5:30 p.m.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Bishop presiding

Good Friday, April 10, 5:30 p.m.
Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Death, Bishop presiding

Holy Saturday, April 11, 8 p.m.
Solemn Vigil of Easter, Bishop presiding

Easter Sunday, April 12, 11 a.m.
Easter Mass, Father David R. LeFort, rector of the cathedral, presiding

March 31, 2020

Downloads Include:

March 30, 2020

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March 26, 2020

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March 24, 2020

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March 23, 2020

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March 21, 2020

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