Churches can reopen starting May 4 for individual prayer, adoration

Churches in the Diocese of St. Cloud can open their doors starting Monday, May 4, for individual prayer and adoration, Bishop Donald Kettler announced in a letter to pastors May 1.

Churches can be open for up to eight hours a day; pastors can choose the hours that best meet the needs of their people. The announcement was accompanied by a list of strict guidelines that pastors and parishes must follow. These include limiting the number of people in the church at any one time to 10 or less, following current social distancing guidelines, and cleaning and sanitizing pews daily.

“The process for resuming public worship in our churches will happen gradually in phases over time as restrictions on public gatherings are eased,” Bishop Kettler said in the letter. “I realize it is very painful for people not to be able to participate in Mass and pray in our churches. And, in light of steps the state is now taking to slowly open up the state, I believe we can begin to take small steps in the diocese as well.”

On April 30, Gov. Tim Walz extended his stay-at-home order until May 18. This second extension of the order makes adjustments to his previous order by allowing curbside delivery for retail businesses. The order continues to direct Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs. When leaving their homes, people should practice social distancing measures and keep six feet between themselves and others.

Bishop Kettler said he is keeping in place the suspension of all public Masses until May 18 when the governor’s current order is set to expire. All Catholics are still dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time, he said.

The letter noted that pastors may preside at weddings, but they must be done outside of Mass with no more than 10 people present. He is also now allowing pastors to preside at baptisms and funeral liturgies as needed. These can be done inside the church, but they must be done outside of Mass and with no more than 10 people present.

Bishop Kettler is also working with Minnesota’s other Catholic bishops on statewide protocols and a timeline for resuming public Masses that observe all health and safety guidelines when the governor’s current order expires May 18. This is dependent, however, on any new health and safety requirements that may be issued by state or federal health authorities, he said.

He said parishes in the Diocese of St. Cloud will need to submit plans to him for how they would plan to resume public Masses that meet specific guidelines and keep parishioners’ safety as a top priority.

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

12 comments

I am very disappointed in the Catholic Church choosing not to respect people’s lives. Going to church is a good place to get this horrible disease. I don’t care if you do open up mass and say we have an obligation to go to mass. I will not be going to mass until I deem it is safe to go. I get the feeling that lives do not matter any more, even by the Catholics!

In 2000+ years, has the church ever voluntarily locked its doors on the faithful, despite the history of wars, plagues, polio epidemic, persecutions, swine flu…I am so disappointed that our church, in response to the State, would close, and stop Masses, and even communication with its people. This is such a dangerous precedent for the future! As a catholic, I feel that in times of trial, and danger and fear, we need the reassurance and support of our church and access to the graces from the mass and the Eucharist. Our churches should never be closed.

So good to see your face, Bishop Kettler. I went to Holy mass today at SHC presided by Bishop Chad. It was wonderful to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. We also have 24/7 Adoration via the chapel window at the Chancery. I’m most grateful God bless you. We will get through this trying time.

Bishop Kettler,
My husband and I have been traveling over an hour and a half to South Saint Paul for parking lot Mass and Blessed Sacrament Blessing because our own Diocese did not find creative ways to offer sacraments and blessings to us. This time has been extremely difficult and seeing my Catholic Church fold has made it exponentially more difficult. I will continue to pray for God’s help for all of us to weather this pandemic.

Unfortunately our bishop has gone out of his way to make unnecessary restrictions that prevent the opportunity to be creative. This diocese definitely has had one of the most restrictive set of rules in comparison to other dioceses. From banning any sort of method for distributing palms on Palm Sunday, to requesting all churches to completely lock their doors, to banning all Baptisms the diocese has displayed that instead of trying to make the best of the situation and finding creative ways to still carry their mission in this local area, they simply put their hands up and said “I give up! See you in a couple months”

Matthew, you are saying exactly what I have been saying. We NEED to be more courageous during this time. Did the early Christians suspend their Masses and prayers because they were being persecuted? No! They kept the Mass, they kept evangelizing, they kept doing everything! They were so brave! Let’s follow their example, not the example of our secular governor!

My prayer is that the bishop will become a good shepherd and allow his sheep to be fed. He needs to listen to God not the governor. He needs to listen to his sheep.

What happened to the true religion we grew up with years ago anything can stop by religion now and that is so wrong we weren’t talk that way it’s time it’s a priest and the bishops stand up to our religion not to the governor in daily Mass there are not that many people there and we couldn’t have daily masses

Baptisms should never have been suspended.
Salvation of souls is to be the top priority of a bishop.
Pax.

I completely agree. It is hard to understand how anyone would think that baptizing a newborn should ever be intentionally delayed, unless they lack supernatural faith.

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