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Preparing for June 1

Bishop McKnight has issued a decree dated May 7 and going into effect June 1 regarding the next phase in our Church’s response to the pandemic. From June 1 on, the dispensation will be lifted from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and other days of precept (Holy Days of Obligation throughout the week such as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and the Immaculate Conception). This means the grave responsibility of fulfilling the Lord’s precept to keep the Sabbath holy by attending Sunday mass in person each week will resume:

The general dispensation of previous decrees from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other days of precept is hereby abrogated. Individuals who are symptomatic, or who have been advised by medical doctors to avoid public gatherings, or who are otherwise ill or homebound, as well as their caregivers, are already dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass (cf. canon 1248 §2).

Those who are symptomatic for COVID-19 should not be permitted to enter church properties, in accordance with national, state and local health guidance.

The continuance of certain special protocols during the pandemic should be continued at the discretion of the pastor (the daily cleaning of high-contact surfaces and holy water fonts; the availability of hand sanitizer and use by ministers of Holy Communion; the observance of social distancing whenever possible; etc.). The wearing of facemasks is still encouraged, especially for those who have not been fully vaccinated.

Livestreaming of parish Masses and other important events has proven to be an effective pastoral means of keeping homebound and ill parishioners in contact with their parish community.  Parishes are highly encouraged to continue this service in the future.

The offertory procession, the taking up of the collection during Mass, the sign of peace, and the offering of the Precious Blood to the faithful may resume at the discretion of the pastor, administrator, or parish life collaborator, effective immediately.

All legitimate national, state or local health directives must be observed.  Parishes and Catholic institutions in the diocese must stand ready to adopt previous pandemic protocols in the event of a surge of infections.

Decree lifting general dispensation, May 7, 2021

For those who are symptomatic, those who have been advised by their physicians to avoid public social gatherings, and those who would normally be dispensed from the Sunday obligation for health reasons, as well as their caregivers, the dispensation remains.

I will be working with the Worship Commission, the Administration Commission, and parish staff to prepare for the time when this decree goes into effect. This would mean the gradual reintroduction of some of the liturgical practices that have been suspended and the arrangement of seating in church to accommodate more worshippers. We need time to prepare ministers for their roles at Mass. Please stay attentive to further announcements in this regard. Until then, we will continue to allow for social distancing and require mask use while moving about in church.

At our facilities at least through May 24y, we will continue to follow CDC guidelines for mask use, social distancing, and regularly cleaning, especially if a gathering has both vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals. The week before Memorial Weekend, we will provide updated instructions. to accommodate for greater attendance.

Thank you so much for your cooperation and understanding as we consider the common good and our community’s health.