The Cleveland Catholic Diocese has released detailed guidelines — including encouraging worshipers to wear masks and limiting capacity of worship spaces to 50% — for the resumption of public celebration of weekday Mass beginning May 25.
This will allow for preparations for the public celebration of Pentecost on the weekend of May 30-31, the diocese said this week.
Ohio Catholic bishops initially canceled all in-person Mass in mid-March, around the time that Gov. Mike DeWine closed schools to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The diocese represents about 680,000 Catholics in Summit, Medina, Wayne Ashland, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.
Resumption of in-person mass will be done only "where it can be achieved safely and where pastorally possible" -- with less than 50% occupancy of the church building and respecting social distancing, said the Rev. Donald P. Oleksiak, diocesan administrator, in a letter posted on the diocese’s website, https://dioceseofcleveland.org.
Worshipers who are sick or symptomatic are asked to stay home, the diocese said.
The dispensation from obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect. The Easter duty obligation is extended for a period of one year from the end of the 2020 Easter season.
Worship spaces will be limited in how many people they can accommodate, and so not everyone who wants to attend will be able to do so on a weekly basis, the guidelines say.
Worshipers are being "strongly encouraged" to wear a mask or other face covering upon entering the church, and during the celebration of Mass, except for the "brief moment" of receiving Holy Communion, according to the guidelines, available on the diocese’s website.
Distribution of the Precious Blood during communion will be suspended, and the sign of peace — before the pandemic handshakes or hugs were often used — has been omitted. The diocese, like others across the country, took this move before suspending Mass in mid-March.
Pews will be taped or cordoned off, worshipers may not be able to sit where they normally sat.
Families may sit together but are to maintain six feet of distance between their family and other families or individuals throughout the celebration of Mass, according to the guidelines.
Worshipers are encouraged to bring their own missals or hymnals; no missals or other materials will be in the pews.
Also, Holy water fonts will remain empty until further notice, and cry rooms and Children’s Liturgy of the Word will not be available.
The guidelines also include information about sanitizing relating to parishioners as well as parish priests.
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