Numerous events fall to COVID-19 precautions

From staff reports

Normal, everyday life has slammed into the wall that is the COVID-19 virus. And a whole host of regular and special events and activities sponsored by parishes and Catholic organizations across the Diocese of Nashville have been shattered after running into that wall.

After federal officials recommended that all gatherings of more than 10 people be cancelled, Bishop J. Mark Spalding announced the suspension of all public celebrations of Mass as well as all other gatherings in the diocese through April 3. Also, Catholic schools in the diocese have also been closed through April 3, when plans for the future will be announced.

Even before the bishop’s announcement, parishes and Catholic organizations had been cancelling events to protect people for the spread of the virus.

St. Edward Church in Nashville decided to turn its Lenten retreat featuring for Father Dwight Longenecker, planned for March 23-25, into an Advent retreat in the late fall. 

The diocese’s two St. Patrick parishes, one in McEwen and one in Nashville, both ended up cancelling their St. Patrick’s Day dinners. And the Church of the Nativity in Thompsons Station had to punt its annual St. Joseph Altar, a popular Sicilian devotion and tradition.

A whole host of the ever-popular parish Lenten Fish Fry dinners were wiped out across the diocese. But at least two parishes will be offering a drive-through only option to purchase a meal. The Knights of Columbus Council 4972 at Holy Rosary Church in Donelson will be offering a drive-through option at its clubhouse at 2300 Knights of Columbus Blvd. on Fridays through Lent. And St. Edward Church, 188 Thompson Lane in Nashville, is offering drive-through dinners 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 3. To make sure plans haven’t changed, call the St. Edward office at 615-833-5520.

The diocesan Office of Faith Formation suspended the last two scheduled talks that were part of its Lenten Speaker Series until they could be rescheduled later. And the annual Catholic Women of Faith Conference, which draws close to 1,000 women from across the diocese to St. Philip Church in Franklin to hear a lineup of inspiring speakers, has been knocked off the schedule for Saturday, March 28. Organizers hope to reschedule the conference later.

The Come Follow Me Catechetical Conference, scheduled for March 20-21 at St. Cecilia Academy, was cancelled, and the organizers at the Aquinas College Center for Evangelization and Catechesis hope to reschedule the conference for early fall. 

The University of Notre Dame Men’s Glee Club had to skip a visit to St. Henry Church in Nashville for a concert on March 14, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Knights of Columbus’ plans for a celebration of Founder’s Day on Sunday, March 29, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville has also been washed away.

Founder’s Day marks the anniversary of the day in 1882 when the Connecticut legislature approved the charter for the Knights, which has become one of the largest Catholic lay organizations in the world.

This year, the Knights were planning a big celebration, including Mass, and an initiation ceremony for new members using the newly approved script for the Exemplification of Charity, Unity and Fraternity. The new ceremony, which combined three separate ceremonies, is open to the public, and the Knights were hoping to showcase it for their family, friends and anyone else interested.

That was all going to be capped off with a barbecue feast, sponsored by Council 544 at the Cathedral.

“State Deputy Michael McCusker announced (on March 17) that the Founder’s Day Mass has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date yet to be determined,” District Deputy Dave Johnson said.

As a district deputy, Johnson, who is a member of Council 544, acts as a liaison between the Tennessee State Council and a group of local councils in the Nashville area.

“Everything is up in the air at this time. When the Mass is held, it will not even be called a Founder’s Day Mass, since that date will have come and gone,” Johnson said.

The Knights, like the rest of the diocese and the Church everywhere, are managing to tread water during this health crisis.

“We have managed to adapt to the situation one day at a time and are doing a lot of things differently every day,” Johnson said. “We are going to shift our focus to presenting various things online.

“And when all of this passes,” Johnson said, “we plan to have a big celebration.”

Robert Alan Glover and Briana Grzybowski contributed to this report.