Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will be allowing indoor religious services to resume this weekend after the issue reached a breaking point between the Archdiocese and Adelup.
In an interview with NewsTalk K57, Fr. Mike Crisostomo, St. Anthony’s Church Pastor, said: “As Church people, we want to be able to cooperate…but don’t push us too far.”
Fr. Crisostomo made the statement before the governor announced she’d allow indoor religious service to resume this weekend.
After retail stores and other services were allowed to open up at 25% capacity last Friday, the Archdiocese became vocal, asking the governor to also allow them to reopen as well.
“I think last week’s EO, was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was really opening up salons, tattoo shops and to get pedicures and manicures…and we thought great, people are working there and that’s wonderful. But then give the same treatment and opening to our churches,” Fr. Crisostomo said.
Senator James Moylan also wrote a letter to the governor, supporting the Church reopening.
All along, the governor’s office had said they’re still evaluating to determine if houses of worship can welcome back their faithful.
Then on Tuesday, the Archdiocese took matters into its own hands, issuing a news release saying they’re reopening for indoor mass this weekend at 50% capacity despite the governor’s executive order.
But almost immediately, the governor’s office issued a statement, saying it still hasn’t made a final decision and that many COVID clusters have been linked back to churches on island.
Father Crisostomo says the religious community had basically had enough after being cooperative with Adelup all along.
“We thought we were very essential, we thought ‘great, this is a partnership with the Government.’ But as things rolled out and we realized that when the executive orders were being pushed out…we didn’t feel that way. Though they may have said ‘yes, we’re considering you’ or ‘yes, maybe next time.” Certainly it didn’t feel like a partnership and that we were just not essential,” Fr. Crisostomo said.
He added that churches just want to be deemed essential and, that they’ve gone above and beyond to keep the congregation safe.
With the governor now officially allowing indoor religious services, Crisostomo says the faithful shouldn’t expect every church to throw its doors open this weekend.
“And if they are unable to ensure the 50% capacity or they do not have the resources they need … until they’re comfortable enough to do so and capable to do so, they are to remain closed,” Fr. Crisostomo said.
But he says the ones that do bring the masses indoors will be following CDC guidelines.
“We’re going to be doing temperature checking, we’re going to be doing registration…for contact tracing if that happens. We’ve already roped off all of our pews to deal with the 6-feet social distancing for communion. We’ve done the same things on the floor. We have our own entrance and exit plan. We have our protocols in place,” he said.
Fr. Crisostomo says they’re even asking the faithful to download the COVID app as encouraged by GovGuam.
He says not everyone will show up for the in-person Mass and that’s okay. He said people need to do what’s best for their health and parking lot mass and TV service will continue for this reason.
Mass at participating Churches will get started Saturday evening and will run Sunday all day.