Indoor Masses will resume starting this weekend, October 3 and 4, according to Archbishop Michael Byrnes.
The archbishop said his decision comes after closely monitoring the situation and with continuous input from priests, the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission (ALC) and different members of our Catholic community.
“Above all, as in all things, we look to our loving Father for guidance as the Church and the general community navigate these unprecedented perilous waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Celebrating and receiving Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is vital to our lives and salvation as baptized children of God. We rejoice like children returning to the arms of our Father!” the Archbishop said in a statement sent to media.
Just as with the first time the Archdiocese reopened its doors for indoor Masses several months ago, all who would attend Mass inside churches must abide with strict COVID-19 requirements.
Mass attendance will be restricted to no more than 50 percent of the church capacity and proper distancing of one another will be practiced.
In addition, all attendees are required to wear safety masks.
Pastors and their dedicated parish staff and volunteers will ensure that pews and all areas are sanitized before and after each Mass and that the temperatures of all individuals are taken before proceeding to the pews.
Livestreaming of Masses and loudspeakers may still be utilized for the sake of the faithful who still opt to follow the Mass from their cars or at home.
Byrnes said the dispensation which excuses persons from the obligation to attend Mass still stands at this time because of the pandemic and Catholics who are sick, frail or who are uncomfortable should still stay at home. Pastors who are unable to have indoor Mass for certain reasons have such prerogative.
“I thank the Faithful of our island, our clergy, and the many groups and individuals who are selflessly assisting our parishes and schools at this time. We thank our government and health care professionals, most especially those courageous men and women who are caring for our sick and frail in our hospitals and clinics. God bless you. I look forward to returning to the island very soon. In the meantime, please stay strong in Jesus. His love for each of us is boundless,” the Archbishop said.
The Office of the Governor, however, said that no official decision has been made yet on the reopening of churches.
Adelup sent the following statement: “During the life of this pandemic on our island, churches have unfortunately represented a significant portion of COVID-19 clusters identified through contact tracing. We want every person of faith to safely return to their places of worship as soon as possible. To accomplish that goal, we are actively reviewing potential safety protocols prior to making that decision. Once this review is complete, an official decision will be made. We thank the community for its patience as we work to strike a reasonable balance between our spiritual well-being and our physical health.”