Nurse missing Mass on Sundays


I am a Registered Nurse in an acute care hospital setting. Health care operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am required to work every other weekend, and every other holiday. (just as all other employees who are employed by this company) I am in a dayshift position currently. Many times on weekends, there is extreme short staffing. It puts staff and patients into a dangerous situation. My hospital does NOT mandate that staff stay to cover unfilled shifts. However, it is the norm in many places to stay to work the next shift. If I do this on Saturdays, I am then not able to attend Mass either Saturday evening OR Sunday morning, because I will be at work. There are no Sunday eve Masses in the county. Is it allowed for me to stay and help patients and co-workers, or do I say no, and attend Mass Saturday evening? It is a RARE thing for nurses here to get breaks for more than a bathroom break or to eat while doing paperwork. So, taking a break to attend Mass is not possible.

Also… With working my Sundays and only being able to attend Mass on Saturdays has its own set of problems for me. I get out of work at 4:30pm. My parish does not have a later Mass time than that. It is a half hour commute home for me. I can not make it in time. There IS one parish that has a 6pm Mass. However, it is not in the city in which I work OR live. This does create a hardship for me, for how much time it takes for me to get to this parish and of course, the use in gas. It is an extra 20 miles each way. Is it permissible for me to not attend Mass on my weekends that I work?


God does not ask us to do the impossible.
That said, no one here can tell you what you should/should not do.
The best thing would be to talk to your own Pastor, and see what he advises.


Many people would be happy to drive 20 miles out of their way to attend Mass. I cannot answer for you, how tired you may be after work, or what other factors might be in play.

If your hospital is short staffed and you are needed for patient care, I cannot imagine that it would be any sin to miss Mass on those days. You should make an effort to arrange your schedule to allow Mass attendance. Make it clear to your employer that Mass attendance is important to you. Reasonable accommodation should be available.


I think you have to ask for a dispensation from your priest in a difficult circumstance like this, but I’m not 100% sure.


Twenty miles? Do you own a car ? Personally, I would drive it!

maybe you can ask a priest to come and have mass in your hospital chapel? Perhaps your local priests are unaware that so many Catholics can’t make it to mass.


Not needed. Necessary work and long distance are both valid reasons to miss Mass on Sundays and other days of obligation. The dispensation is already there. There is no sin involved - on the contrary, missing Mass can in this context be seen as a laudable sacrifice to follow a holy vocation of caring for the sick.

Though to be clear, even working at a 7-11 on Sundays can be seen as necessary, as long as it is required by your work contract, or to feed your family. The Church does not require people to lose their jobs over fulfilling days of obligation. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.


I too am a nurse required to work every other weekend and am living in an area where there are no options for Mass.

20 miles may not seem far, but at the end of a 12 hour shift where you are running nonstop, physically and mentally demanding work, it can feel like driving 100 miles. For me, I am usually so tired after a shift, that I am asleep within 30 mins of arriving home. I could not drive 20 miles after work to attend Mass.

The obligation is for us to go to Mass at the next available time (like Monday), and that will count for our Mass obligation.

It sounds like you work 8s? Could you work 7a-3p on Saturday and then work 3p-11p on Sunday? Go to Mass Sunday morning before work?

Have you talked to management about the staff shortage on weekends? That is the real problem here.


Give the poor nurse a break. It’s one thing to drive 20 miles to mass from the comfort of your home. It’s another to drive there after a double shift or even a single shift in a short-staffed hospital.
I’m sure your priest would consider this a valid reason to miss mass. You might look into having an EMHC bring you communion. I’m pretty sure you are also dispensed from the one hour fast.


I don’t think this is accurate. If you have a legitimate reason to miss Sunday Mass, that’s the end of it. You are not obligated to “make it up” at a Mass during the week.


This is a serious question that should not be taken lightly. It’s important to find the answer that is fully in harmony with Church law and Church teaching, I believe.


I don’t think you need to over think this and read up on canon law. God asks us simply to use our judgment.

If we think God will send a to hell for missing a mass, particularly in this situation, then our relationship with God is based on fear. (I am not saying OP you feel this way. It is a common sentiment expressed here by some)

I also work in health care on weekends at a catholic hospital. I am not able to attend the Mass at work. I often attend mass during the week. It is not something I need to ask a priest for a dispensation for nor do you need to drive 20 miles to another town.



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