Good news! According to Bishop Callahan’s recent letter to the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse, we will soon be able to celebrate the Holy Mass with a limited number of people in attendance. Beginning on the weekend of Pentecost, May 30-31, we should be able to open the church for limited attendance at the weekend Mass. The reason for the limitation is to make sure that health and safety concerns remain as a priority. We can have about 25% of our church space used which means approximately 140 persons can attend the Mass. Since a limited number of people can be in the church at any given time, and until such time that we can resume normal attendance, an additional Mass will be offered on Sunday. (Depending upon the number who are here on Saturday, we could also see an additional Mass). The Mass schedule for the time being will be as follows:
- Saturday at 4:00
- Sunday at 7:00, 8:30 and 10:00
The additional Sunday Mass is experimental and will be temporary. We can hope for a day in the not-too-distant future when we will be able to celebrate the Mass with a full assembly once again and return to our normal time schedule. But for now we will rejoice in the fact that the Mass can be celebrated with our parish family. The Mass itself will have certain restrictions. For example, we will not use hymnals, every other pew will be cordoned off and not used, social distancing will be enforced, etc. Each parish is required to have certain supplies available. Everyone will enter from the Market Street side of church and leave by the parking lot exit. Those who come to Mass will be required to sign in – which will assist to provide contact tracing in the event that someone would contract the virus. These precautions will become routine after awhile but initially it may take some time to accommodate ourselves to these measures.
What about refraining from attending Mass if you are still concerned about the virus? Those who are at-risk because of age or underlying illness are encouraged to remain at home. In other words, Bishop Callahan has continued to grant a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. If you choose not to come to the Sunday Mass for the time being, the dispensation given by the Bishop removes the penalty of sin. However, we must still keep holy the Lord’s Day (the Third Commandment). If you choose not to attend the Sunday Mass, please watch a televised Mass or one that is live-streamed. Sunday is also a good day to spend time in extra prayer and perhaps some spiritual reading – like reading from the Bible.
All in all, we are moving in the right direction. With God’s grace and with good effort on the part of many, we are seeing continued improvements. God bless us all.