Women religious carry palm branches while walking the traditional path that Jesus took on his last entry into Jerusalem during the Palm Sunday Procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem April 14, 2019. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
Women religious carry palm branches while walking the traditional path that Jesus took on his last entry into Jerusalem during the Palm Sunday Procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem April 14, 2019. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

The Diocese of Albany released the following instructions Wednesday, March 25, for Palm Sunday

Reminder: Masses should be celebrated by the priest ALONE and not at a scheduled time. The purpose of this is to ensure that people do not gather, as well as maintaining all other health and governmental directives. If the Mass is being recorded or live streamed, a few others may be present to operate the camera, provide music, proclaim readings and offer responses, etc. PROVIDED that all health and governmental directives are observed (social distance, hygiene, sanitizing, etc.).

HOWEVER: Given the importance of Palm Sunday, whether or not the Mass will be recorded or live streamed, that is, as an exception to the directive above, the following may be present at

the Palm Sunday Mass: the priest, a deacon, lector, musician, server (and, where relevant, the camera operator). Again, this is provided that all health and governmental directives can be observed (social distancing, hygiene, sanitizing, etc.).


With respect to the choice of Mass forms at the beginning of the Mass, the First Form (Roman Missal or RM, Palm Sunday, nn. 2-12} presents difficulties, as it involves a procession from outside the church. The Second Form (that includes the blessing of palms) would therefore  be the recommended choice (RM, Palm Sunday, n. 12-15}. A reminder that the Third Form (RM, Palm Sunday, nn. 16-18} does not include the blessing of palms.

The narrative of the Lord's Passion or Gospel is read by the Deacon, or by the Priest if a Deacon is not present (this is actually the first option listed in the RM, Palm Sunday, n. 21). There is, of course, the option of using three readers, but this may well be inadvisable and indeed impossible in our current situation regarding numbers at gatherings, social distancing, etc.


Distribution of palms: After a lengthy and wide-ranging consultation concerning the many logistical issues of distributing the palms in a safe way, the public distribution of palms is prohibited