Catholic holy days of obligation are the days on which we’re expected to go to Mass. This list includes every single Sunday, along with a few additional days. Some feasts, such as Easter, are always celebrated on a Sunday, so they are always obligatory. But when are you supposed to attend Mass outside of Sundays?
US Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2020
The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church says that there are nine holy days of obligation other than Sundays, but it also says that the local conference of bishops can suppress some of them or transfer them to a Sunday.
Bishops in the United States have suppressed the feast of Saint Joseph and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul as holy days of obligation. In addition, the feast of Epiphany is always celebrated on a Sunday in the U.S. In 2020, the Feast of the Assumption falls on Saturday, August 15. We’ll celebrate it the next day at Sunday Mass.
This leaves us with five holy days of obligation outside of Sundays. The following are holy days of obligation in the U.S. for 2020:
- Solemnity of Mary, January 1
- Ascension of Jesus, May 21 — Celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter Sunday*
- Solemnity of All Saints, November 1
- Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8
- Christmas, December 25
*An individual bishop can transfer a holy day to a Sunday. This is the case in most US dioceses with the Ascension of Jesus, which is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Check with your local diocese.
Holy Days Calendar
To make sure you don’t miss Mass on these special days, add our Google Calendar with the Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2020 to your personal Google Calendar. Check out this resource if you have any trouble adding the calendar.Get the Calendar
And don’t forget to tune into the live stream of our mid-day mass at St. Clement Shrine at 12:10 p.m. ET every weekday.
There are a few exceptions to those obligations. If the Solemnity of Mary, the Feast of the Assumption or the Solemnity of All Saints falls on a Saturday or Monday, the obligation is lifted and those feasts are celebrated on the nearest Sunday. In 2020, this is the case for the Feast of the Assumption.
We’d still encourage you to attend Mass on those days, but it would not be considered a holy day of obligation. If you’re ever unsure, check with your parish or diocese’s website to see how your diocese approaches a specific holy day.
Hawaiians also handle Catholic holy days of obligation a bit differently. Since 1992, the only observed holy days of obligation (except Sundays) are the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christmas.
An Additional Celebration for Oblates
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary have an additional celebration relating to the Virgin Mary the feast of the Holy Name of Mary on September 12. And on this day, we renew our vows and dedication to Our Lord and Our Lady.
“In his life of consecration an Oblate should remember that, just as God continuously calls him to the intimacy of love, equally constant must be his generous and faithful response. He should therefore frequently examine his fidelity in collaborating with God who works within him. In this spirit it is convenient to renew the consecration even with the whole community in the celebration of the solemnity of the Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12. On the same day they also renew with the whole community their act of entrustment to Our Lady.”Norm 12.1 of our Rule
A Story From Father Mark, OMV
Before making their final vows, Oblate seminarians generally make temporary vows one year at a time for a total of about four years, renewing them each year on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary on September 12. However, it generally works out better for Oblates’ academic schedules to celebrate their very first profession of vows during the month of August. This meant that the following year there was often a gap of a few weeks when they would be without vows ahead of the big Holy Name of Mary celebration where all Oblates renew their vows.
“I made my first profession of vows on August 22, the memorial of the Queenship of Mary. This meant that one year later on August 22, I had to renew my vows for 21 days to get me through to September 12, on which date I would renew my vows for a year at a time thereafter.
We needed two Oblates to witness the renewal of my vows for this brief period, and so we grabbed the closest two Oblates we could find and brought them up to the Church. They happened to be the Rector Major, who was in charge of all the Oblates in the world and who happened to be visiting our community at the time, and the Provincial, who was in charge of all the Oblates in the United States. My sister was also visiting at the time, together with the foundress of her religious community, and they asked if they could come too.
As I began to recite my vows, I was struck by the incongruity of it all—being in that beautiful Church in the presence of the Rector Major, the Provincial, the foundress of a women’s religious community and a family member vowing poverty, chastity, and obedience — for 21 days!
Thankfully, a norm has since been added to our Rule that allows us to make our first profession of vows from the current date until the feast of the Holy Name of Mary the following year, thus avoiding this situation in the future.”
What Catholic feast days are most important to your faith? We’d love to hear your stories and discuss special connections in the comments below.