BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge announced Monday, May 11 that churches can resume worship as early as the weekend, starting with Vigil Masses Saturday afternoon (May 16). This comes after Governor John Bel Edwards made a statewide announcement Monday easing stay-at-home restrictions effective Friday, May 15.
The diocese says it expects all parishes to celebrate public Masses the weekend of May 23 and 24 while adhering to occupancy limits, social distancing guidelines, and while properly sanitizing.
Bishop Michael Duca says the announcement was made in a letter to Catholics in the diocese’s 12-parish area. The letter is also being distributed to church parishes on their website and social media platforms.
According to the bishop, the Sunday Mass obligation will continue to be dispensed indefinitely. The diocese urges all of those who fall into a vulnerable category or who are recovering from COVID-19 to stay at home. Masses will continue to be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.
The letter being sent out also details new guidelines about the communal celebration of mass, the distribution of Holy Communion, and the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Earlier directives from the bishop concerning funerals, marriages, baptisms, and anointing the sick and taking Holy Communion to the homebound remain in effect for now.
“Gathering together under these new guidelines is a big undertaking by your pastor and parish staff,” Bishop Duca said. “Expect that each parish will begin public Masses when prepared and will adopt different options that reflect the size of the parish, number of priests, available resources, readiness, and parishioner support."
"I invite you not to compare what is going on in another parish with your parish’s situation. Be patient with your pastor and accept that it will take a few weeks to accommodate this new reality," the bishop said.
Click here to read the full letter sent by the bishop. Parishioners should get in touch with their parish offices for information about when/how their particular church will resume worship.
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