Ephesians 4:2

Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend, the bishop has asked priests of the Diocese of announce his updated COVID protocols for all parishes in the Diocese of Saint Cloud.  I will be sharing both the bishop’s letter to priests as well as practicals for how this will take shape in our parishes.  Additionally, I will be asking all members of our parishes for feedback and advice on some of the particulars of the new rules.

Before we get to that this is super important:  we need to both understand and appreciate that some people will find these new rules a welcome relief and others will see these as scary and even off-putting.  I am begging you to be respectful not only of people in our parishes with different views on how to work through the ongoing pandemic and also for priests who are – quite frankly – caught in the crossfire between members of the parishes who either think the rules to this point have been an overreaction and those who see the rules as not going far enough.

Here’s the three-tier basics from this bishop:

  • Pentecost Weekend:  22-23 May 2021
    • Holy Water is back
    • Hymns for Mass are back
    • Other things that can come back:  altar servers, passing of collection baskets, gift procession, formal sign of peace, and communion under both species
    • Face covering still required
  • Trinity Weekend:  29-30 May 2021
    • Reduced capacity limits expire
    • Physical distance limits expire
    • Food can be served in and by the parish
    • Social events can happed at the parish
    • Parish festivals can return, including serving of food with legitimate protections
    • Face covering still required
  • Start of New Fiscal Year 01 July 2021
    • Face covering requirement expires
    • Catholic schools reevaluate COVID rules

The bishop insists that these are available to us but not required of us.  For example, if we do not wish to pass the collection plate but rather continue to have a collection in the front of the Church – that is fine.  A second example might be:  we can choose to not have Holy Water in the Church, even though we are allowed o have it – either option is perfectly fine.

We have a lot of discussions to have, therefore, likely at the level of Pastoral Councils.  I will also plan to have an option available to everyone in the parish to voice an opinion on each of these topics, either through an informal open-mic night or through a survey sent to each household in the parish.  Please recall what I said this same time last year:  patience and understanding will get us many miles further than frustration and complaining.

God be near,

Father Jeremy