MADISON (WKOW) -- Catholic churches in south-central Wisconsin will resume public masses with coronavirus safety precautions in place.
Churches in the Diocese of Madison will start gathering in person again the weekend of Pentecost, May 30-31.
Church leaders say masses will be limited to 25 percent of each church's occupancy capacity, with adequate social distancing and other safety measures.
In his message to priests in the 11 county area, Bishop Donald Hying explained:
“Given the lifting of civil restrictions in most counties of our diocese, some may ask why we are adopting a gradual approach to reinstituting Masses with significant congregations present. The answer lies in the fact that COVID-19 cases continue to emerge in the state and there is still a very real danger of infection without adequate care; therefore, we want to be prudential in light of public health concerns. To simply emerge from these weeks of physical distancing without any gradualism would be irresponsible. Our hope is that our elderly and at-risk faithful people will exercise prudence and not yet attend Mass, especially given the current dispensation from the Sunday obligation, but we do want to begin enabling others to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the central experience of Catholicism, which we have all sorely missed in these challenging weeks of the pandemic.”
Other safeguards that will be put in place and strongly encouraged include:
- Continue to obey all applicable local restrictions;
- Recommend that the faithful gathered wear face masks;
- No choir or congregational singing;
- Frequent sanitation of surfaces, as well as frequent hand washing/sanitizing;
- Removal of hymnals, missalettes, and other items in the pews;
- Continuation of the streaming of Masses live online, and
- Increased signage and direction from trained ushers.
In remaining in compliance with county and municipal orders, liturgies and worship will look different in nearly every one of our 134 churches.