Catholic parishes across the Diocese of Trenton are preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of the faithful to in-person and virtual Christmas Masses in commemoration of the Birth of Jesus Christ this year.

Pandemic restrictions and protocols limiting in-person Mass attendance and requiring sanitizing measures between each Mass will impact schedules on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, requiring that many experience Masses that are either livestreamed or pre-recorded by their parishes. 

In a written and videotaped message issued in October, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., told his flock: “The COVID pandemic will not take away Christmas 2020! It will, however, change the way we celebrate it.” The Bishop reminded all members of the Diocese that a dispensation from the obligation of in-person Mass attendance on Sundays and holy days remains in effect. He encouraged the faithful to take advantage of livestreamed and televised Masses if they are not able to attend Mass in church. He added that anyone who is in a high-risk category for catching COVID-19, or who does not feel well, should refrain from in-person Mass attendance.

Bishop O’Connell thanked the community for its understanding and patience, noting that “None of us want the restrictions or adjustments we have had to make because of the COVID pandemic. Please God, it will end soon. Although different from past Christmases, parishes will do their very best to assist the faithful in celebrating the Lord’s Birth with faith and joy.”

Bishop O’Connell will celebrate two livestreamed Masses for Christmas – Christmas Eve at 2 p.m. in St. Gregory the Great Church, Hamilton Square, and Midnight Mass in St. Rose Church, Belmar. Both Masses can be accessed at dioceseoftrenton.org.

According to a recent diocesan survey, more than 70 parishes are now livestreaming their Masses at least weekly and 15 are pre-recording Masses that later run on their websites and social media. It is estimated that only six parishes do not yet have the capability to livestream.

Important note: Masks must be worn, and social distancing between family groups must be observed for all in-person Masses in the Diocese of Trenton. For an instructional video, click HERE. Information on in-person and livestreamed Masses will be posted on parish websites, a list of which can be found HERE.