The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has canceled all Catholic Church activities in New Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fr. Clement Niggel, of Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, said Archbishop John C. Wester is allowing all parishes in the state to perform Mass via Facebook Live.

Father Clement Niggel

Our Lady of Belen will hold to its normal Mass schedule of 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 and 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday. Niggel said all who wish to view the live Masses should friend him on Facebook.

“During this time of crisis, we need God the most,” Niggel said. “He’s the only one who can calm our fears, and people need access. If they can’t come to Mass, I’ll bring Mass to them.”

While Catholic Mass can be viewed on television and on the internet, Niggel says he hopes having local priests offer Mass to their congregation will bring them peace.

He said while some are upset Catholic Masses have been canceled, many are appreciative that he’ll be offering Mass on the social media platform.

Niggel held his first Mass via Facebook Live on Friday evening, with 60 live viewers, and as of Saturday morning, the post had 1,500 views. He is still contemplating doing daily Masses as well.

The church will continue to be open every day, he said, for parishioners.

Fr. Niggel was hoping to get permission from the archbishop to offer “drive-thru” communion to the congregation after each Mass, but the request was denied. However, Catholic Churches will continue to have confessions.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe asks that its parishes and other entities:

  • Suspend public celebrations of Mass. Churches may remain open for individual prayer.
    Individual confessions and consultations need not be suspended.
  • Suspend/postpone all other non-essential meetings and group devotions such as communal penitential services, stations of the cross, CCD, youth and adult education, etc.
  • Postpone or cancel if possible other rites such as baptisms, quinceañeras, weddings, funerals, etc. If held due to extraordinary circumstances, limit attendance to 20-30 persons and perform the rite without Mass.
  • Eucharistic adoration may continue, but limit the number at any one time according to the size of the space utilized.

Other instructions:

  • Archbishop Wester dispenses RCIA candidates from the first and second scrutinies. The third scrutiny, which cannot be dispensed, may be accomplished outside of Mass according to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, paras. 34.2 and 331.
  • Validations of marriages in preparation for reception into the Church may continue without Mass and with minimal attendance.
  • Anointing of the seriously sick and dying may be conducted by priests, who should be assiduous in pre/post hygienic procedures and consider replacing their oil stocks after the anointing.

At a time of confusion over the COVID-19 pandemic, Niggel reminds the faithful that God is good and to remain calm.

“We want to make sure you check on your family members and help your neighbors,” Niggel said. “First and foremost, pray, pray, pray because God is real. Be prudent and vigilant and leave worry to the devil.”

Niggel says while it’s important to take care of your spiritual needs, it’s also important to take care of physical needs, and suggests to make sure you have your medication and food, update your will and write down passwords.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.