From Bishop Vasa January 26, 2021

  • Presbyteral Bulletin #89 January 26, 2021
  • Ursuline Sisters Property Sale Press Release
  • Rules for Ash Wednesday and Saint Blase Memorial, From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 12 January 2021. Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect +Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

PRESENT COUNTY TIER / REGION STATUS: All counties of the Diocese remain in the Purple – Outdoor only with masks and social distancing. This past weekend was colder than what we have experienced this winter and so I know that you and your people are experiencing greater hardship. I get occasional requests to ‘Open up our churches’ but this is not an option which I have. Many people stay home already out of fear and that fear would only be increased by a move, against State orders, to allow indoor worship. While I must admit a great impatience with the State, I cannot recommend any form of disobedience despite the desire, and sometimes the demand, that we oppose the State. We have tried to comply as best as we can up to now and I do not see any alternative but to stay the course. The recent action of ‘lifting the lockdown’ does not have any impact on County restrictions on indoor worship.
LENT: The Memorial of Saint Blasé is February 3 and Ash Wednesday is on February 17. The USCCB has sent a reminder of an alternate way to Bless Throats and the Holy See has issued an instruction on methods of marking people with ashes (both attached in a single document). The recommendation is to ‘sprinkle’ the ashes on the heads of individuals who come forward. Other alternatives include using cotton swabs, perhaps Q-Tips with a separate swab for each person or simply applying ashes in the usual manner with or without the use of gloves.
Since the reason for change of methodology is tied to the risk of transmission from one person to another each community must determine if there is really any risk connected with the distribution of ashes. The possibility of some virions being transmitted from a recipient’s forehead to the ashes on the thumb of the distributor and then those ‘infected’ ashes being distributed to other recipients and then those recipients somehow breathing in the virion and becoming infected seems to me to be astronomically remote. If you feel the need to exercise an abundance of caution then please do so. Sprinkling would need to be explained but may manifest the greatest degree of ‘caution’. I will not contend with any of you for the method which you may choose. For those in the congregation who may have fears, different ‘options’ could be offered in different lines.
MARIAN SISTERS: I attach a Press Release from last week regarding the pending sale of the Ursuline property in Santa Rosa to the Marian Sisters. The purchase price is set at $5 million and is being funded almost entirely by the Marian Sisters and their supporters. The Diocese has offered a short-term loan in the amount of $500,000 but since the initial announcements to supporters they have raised an additional $150,000 and may only need $350,000 to complete the purchase. This is a loan, not a grant.
The main building on the property (40+ acres) is the Convent / Motherhouse which will be fully occupied by the Sisters. The Retreat portion of the property burned in 2017. Thus, at the present time there will not be any possibility of using the building for retreats or other Diocesan gatherings. The availability of land, however, does present the possible future hope of working with the Sisters to build other facilities there for broader Diocesan use.
PERSEVERE! BE SAFE! God bless you for all your efforts for the sake of souls during these most trying times. PRAY for better days!

Ursuline Sisters 400 Angela Drive Santa Rosa, CA 95409 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/15/2021

SANTA ROSA, CA: The Ursuline Sisters, who have served in Santa Rosa for more than 130 years, are announcing the sale of their property at 400 Angela Drive in Santa Rosa, California to the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa.
After careful, sometimes painful discernment, the Ursuline Sisters have determined that they are no longer able to carry on their ministries from this location. Three years ago, Angela Center building was lost in the 2017 Tubbs Wildfire. The convent also suffered significant damage as did the surrounding landscape. It has taken three years to repair the damage, to rebuild the Maintenance building, and return the grounds to a safe condition. Hence, a recent decision was made to sell the convent, as well as the adjacent property. The sisters wish to express their deepest gratitude to all the people who have supported them and graced their halls and grounds. We are truly blessed.
It is our desire that the Marian Sisters enjoy the property and make it their home for many years to come.
The founding Sisters of the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, natives of California, were invited by Bishop Robert F. Vasa to establish the community in 2012. The community has grown rapidly and serves the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa in the Catholic schools, Chancery, and Parish offices, as well as through catechetical instruction, retreat talks, youth events, liturgical music, and sacristy care.
“We are honored to work with the Ursuline Sisters through this transition,” Reverend Mother Teresa Christe, MSSR stated, “and we look forward to continuing to use this property for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The acquisition of the property is a big step in deepening our roots in this community.”
The Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa hope to establish residence at Ursula Hall Spring 2021.
For more information about the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, visit

Note regarding the Blessing of Throats on the Memorial of Saint Blase:

  1. If, for pastoral reasons, each individual cannot be blessed in the manner described in no. 1627, for example when great numbers are gathered for the blessing or when the memorial of Saint Blase occurs on a Sunday, a priest or deacon may give the blessing to all assembled by extending hands, without the crossed candles, over the people while saying the prayer of blessing. A lay minister says the prayer proper to lay ministers without making the sign of the cross.
    The current circumstances would certainly be considered a sufficient pastoral reason to avoid administration of the blessing to individuals in the usual manner, should there be any concern of danger due to the ongoing pandemic.
    NOTE ON ASH WEDNESDAY Prot. N. 17/21
    Distribution of Ashes in Time of Pandemic
    The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
    The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.
    From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 12 January 2021.
    Robert Card. Sarah
    +Arthur Roche
    Archbishop Secretary