Churches close doors to coronavirus, but faithful hearts remain open


Edward Macdonald '23

The front doors of St. Finn Barr Church, a few blocks away from Riordan, will remain closed this Sunday and for the coming weeks due to the shelter in place ordinance.

Aidan Murtagh '20 , Sports Feature Editor

Shortly after the coronavirus reached the Bay Area, many churches changed their Mass procedures to reduce the risk of spreading the illness, and on March 17, the Archbishop suspended all public masses within the Archdiocese of San Francisco until further notice.

As the coronavirus began to spread in the Bay Area, churches deviated from their normal operations to decrease the likelihood that parishioners would contract coronavirus by attending Mass. Priests were told to shorten Mass in whatever ways they could to decrease the time people were in contact with each other, and this most commonly resulted in shortened homilies, shorter Eucharistic prayers, and less singing during mass. 

Alex Datoc ‘87, director of Campus Ministry at Archbishop Riordan High School, said, “Preventative measures taken at my parish, Mission Dolores Basilica, began on March 8.  Before Mass an announcement was made to the parishioners to stay at least 6 feet apart, not to make contact at the sign of peace, but make a simple gesture of peace, not to hold hands at the Lord’s Prayer, the blood of Christ will not be offered, and to receive the body of Christ by hand only.”

In addition to these preventative measures, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, also excused many people from attending Mass if they did not feel comfortable doing so. In a March 13 message, he reminded the Archdiocese that elderly people were not required to attend Mass during this pandemic, but he extended this exception, saying that “for those who are healthy but feel anxiety from fear of contracting the virus in a large public gathering, I hereby dispense them from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass.”

With all these measures already in place and the coronavirus still spreading, the Archbishop of San Francisco announced on St. Patrick’s Day that all Masses will be closed to the public, and that he will update parishioners on when they will be reopened. With this announcement, however, Archbishop Cordileone reminded parishioners that “our people must keep the Lord’s Day holy in other ways, at home.” 

This is a great time to use prayer and begin/continue a dialogue with God.  Continue to express your thoughts, feelings and concerns through prayer.”

— Alex Datoc '87, Campus Ministry Director

Father Goran Jovicic, chaplain of Archbishop Riordan High School, has offered a few suggestions on how people can do this, which includes attending Mass remotely via websites such as,, or, to name a few. In addition, Father Goran stated that confessions can still be heard, but they must simply follow the 6 feet social distancing rule that is in place. 

Although this is a time of uncertainty and worry for many people, this is also great potential for spiritual growth. 

Datoc expressed, “I feel this is a great time to use prayer and begin/continue a dialogue with God.  Continue to express your thoughts, feelings and concerns through prayer. Find out if masses are offered through the internet from their parish, if not, try to find one from other parishes.”

Diego Mijares ’20 also believes that people can use this time to grow in their faith. He said, “The coronavirus is not stopping people from praying the rosary or worshipping at home; it’s just stopping people from going to church. The only real challenge that I have faced concerning my faith is just not being able to go to church, but it has not been that big of a setback. I just pray at home.”

Although churches may be closed, church leaders stress that it is now more important than ever in this time of crisis to be prayerful and in a relationship with God. The protocol is new to everyone, but it is up to the individual to make sure that the faith lives on in homes, and within hearts. 


Readings for Sunday, March 29, Fifth Sunday of Lent