National Shrine of
Saint Francis of Assisi

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi October 4, 2020


The 28th Annual Capuchin Golf Tournament held every September has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The friars of the Western America Province appreciate all your support and look forward to seeing you on the course next year!


Inés San Martín,
September 12, 2020

Calling it "necessary and urgent" to return to public Masses as soon as anti-COVID 19 measures permit, the Vatican's top official for liturgy has urged Catholic bishops around the world not to let religious worship be relegated to a priority level below "recreational activities" or treated as just another public gathering. Signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, the letter came with the approval of Pope Francis. Sarah argues that although the Catholic Church should cooperate with civil authorities and adopt protocols to protect the safety of the faithful, "liturgical norms are not matters on which civil authorities can legislate, but only the competent ecclesiastical authorities."

Sarah also insisted that broadcast and livestreamed Masses are useful, but they're no replacement for being physically present.

"No broadcast is equivalent to personal participation, nor can it substitute for that participation," Sarah wrote.

Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March, most bishops' conferences, following Pope Francis's lead, closed the liturgy and other sacraments to the faithful, asking for them to be made available online and via TV and radio. Leading by example, Francis livestreamed his daily Masses from his residence at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, drawing sizeable audiences on YouTube and Italian TV.

In Italy, the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte greenlighted the resumption of public Masses in late May, on the advice of a technical-scientific committee that's been overseeing the country's response to the COVID crisis, and Francis ended his daily livestream.

In other parts of the world, including the pontiff's former archdiocese in Buenos Aires, Masses are still being celebrated without faithful or with extreme restrictions, which have led some critics to claim a double standard when 15 people are allowed into a grocery store but only 10 in a church.

Sarah wrote the letter on Aug. 15, it was approved by Francis on Sept. 3, and then sent to bishops's conferences worldwide last week. The Vatican released the text of the letter Saturday.

The 72-year-old Guinean cardinal, often seen as a conservative stalwart in the Church, praised bishops and episcopal conferences for "listening to, and collaborating with, civil authorities and experts," saying bishops have been "prompt to make difficult and painful decisions, even to the point of suspending the participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist for a long period." "This congregation is deeply grateful to the bishops for their commitment and effort in trying to respond in the best possible way to an unforeseen and complex situation," he wrote.

Sarah, named by Pope Francis to his present post in 2014, titled the letter, "Let us return to the Eucharist with Joy."

Sarah insists that when circumstances allow, it is "necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life, which has the church building as its home and the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, as the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; and at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows."

"As soon as is possible," Sarah wrote, "we must return to the Eucharist with a purified heart, with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with Him, to receive Him and to bring Him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love and hope."

We "cannot be without the Christian community," Sarah added, "cannot be without the house of the Lord," "cannot be without the Lord's Day."


On Monday, August 31, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone released this statement calling on Mayor London Breed; Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax; and San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón to ease unfair restrictions on public worship in San Francisco:

"I am grateful that the Mayor and other government leaders in San Francisco acknowledge the importance of mental and spiritual health to the overall well-being of our people, in addition to physical and economic health. I am therefore calling on the Mayor and her public health officials to, at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.

Particularly for us as Catholics, attending the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in person is the source and the summit of our faith, and we have shown we can celebrate the Mass safely. As three major infectious disease specialists recently pointed out, "over one million public [M]asses have been celebrated following guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus… for Catholic churches following these guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance."

San Francisco is the only government in the entire Bay Area that restricts public gatherings to 12 people out of doors. Ours and others' faith is being treated as less important than a trip to the hardware store, or a nice dinner out on the patio. This denial of access to safe outdoor public worship is a serious deprivation of our rights as Americans under the First Amendment and our spiritual needs as people of faith. One million public Masses without any Covid outbreaks demonstrates that it is just as safe in San Francisco as in other parts of the state, such as San Mateo County, to permit large gatherings for outdoor public worship with reasonable safety precautions.


The current "stay home" order we are observing in the Bay Area presents challenges us to observe the third precept of the Decalogue, "Remember the Sabbath day — keep it holy," in ways other than by attending Sunday Mass. Since the celebration of Mass in public is not possible at this time, our people are excused from keeping the Lord's Day holy by attending Sunday Mass. But since none of us are exempt from any of the Ten Commandments, I invite you to see this as an opportunity to be creative in finding ways to keep holy the Sabbath at home. Here are some ideas for how to do so:

  1. Attend Mass remotely by watching a televised Sunday Mass
    The Catholic broadcasting network EWTN also has many possibilities for viewing Masses, both live and recorded, both in English and in Spanish.

  2. Make a Spiritual Communion

  3. Meditate on the Sunday readings
    Magnificat Publishing is providing free subscriptions at this time in both English and Spanish (cf. free or

  4. Pray the rosary
    The rosary is, essentially, a biblical prayer, as it is a means of meditating on the mysteries of our salvation as revealed in the life of our Lord and our Blessed Mother in the Gospels, and most of the prayers come directly from the Gospel.


Ed Hopfner, Director - Office of Marriage and Family Life

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a great deal of upheaval for most of us. However, there have been some unexpected positive trade-offs, and even benefits. While we wait for the authorities to allow indoor Masses, we are able to stream Masses not only from our own parish, but from around the world.

A great number of educational and other resources have come online recently. While "Zoom fatigue" is a reality, there are increasingly creative applications of streaming technology. The Archdiocese is co-sponsoring a retreat for divorced and separated Catholics on September 11-12 (, for which nearly 200 people have signed up so far, from a dozen countries. This would never have happened prepandemic. Another example is our popular annual MotherDaughter event ( which will now be offering the program to mothers and daughters from around the state.

One of our latest partners is Life-Giving Wounds, a ministry for adults whose parents have divorced ( Our scheduled retreat had to be postponed, but there is now a virtual retreat, offered with weekly sessions beginning October 1. And our longawaited retreat in Spanish for couples in struggling marriages (the Retrouvaille program) will likely be offered online this year as well.

These are just some of the programs to which our Office can link you: programs for couples, resources for families, healing retreats, help for people struggling with anxiety… the list is long, and is frequently updated on the Archdiocesan webpage, above. Questions, contact Ed Hopfner, above.