BOSTON — As of Monday, funeral services will not be allowed in the Catholic churches of eastern Massachusetts until further notice.
Graveside committal services are still permitted.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Massachusetts, ordered the prohibition because of the continuing threat of COVID-19. Last week, O’Malley suspended public Masses in the Archdiocese of Massachusetts, which encompasses Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Plymouth counties.
Private funeral Masses for immediate family members, however, were permitted. The latest order prohibits even those worship services.
Terry Donilon, secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Boston said the archdiocese hopes the ban will be temporary.
“In an abundance of concern for the archdiocese following Gov. (Charlie) Baker’s emergency order for public safety, effective Monday, March 23, funeral Masses and other forms of funeral services at our churches are suspended in the Archdiocese of Boston. We recommend that the bereaved be offered the opportunity for a graveside committal service during this time and a memorial Mass when we are able to again offer the celebration of Mass and religious services at our parishes and churches,” Donilon said in a statement to the media.
Kevin Comeau, who owns and operates the Kevin B. Comeau Funeral Home in Haverhill, said he learned about the prohibition Friday.
“People are not going to stop dying,” Comeau said. He and other funeral directors will still have to take care of the immediate needs of the families of people who have died.
The tightening restrictions on numbers of people allowed in gatherings will reduce attendance at funeral services, he said.
“It affects how we go about doing our business,” he said.
Paul Tennant may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.