BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Because of the snowstorm set to hit Western New York, Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher says parishioners are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday mass this weekend.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo shared a message from Fisher on Thursday, where he urged parishes in affected areas to celebrate mass virtually if able.

The storm is expected to drop at least a foot of snow on most of the Buffalo region, while the hardest-hit areas could see over 3 feet.

“On this last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year, we celebrate the Feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The Sunday gathering of the faithful around the altar of the Lord is the weekly highpoint of our spiritual lives. This weekend, however, I dispense Catholics in those areas of the diocese affected by the snowstorm, travel advisories, and/or travel bans from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

I urge parishes in affected areas to celebrate Mass via livestream if they have the capabilities. Please check with your parish for their Mass schedule. It is important for all to remain safe during this storm also allowing time for necessary snow removal and safe travel conditions to be restored.

Since coming to Western New York, I have experienced the great kindness of its people and I encourage neighbors to continue to look out for and assist neighbors during this time.

As we praise Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, be assured of my prayers for the safety and well-being of all.”

Bishop Michael Fisher

In some areas, like Wyoming, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and southern Erie counties, a lake-effect snow warning has already taken effect. In other counties, like Genesee and Northern Erie, the warning begins Thursday night.

Niagara County is last on the list, where a lake effect snow warning will take effect Friday night.