Revised May 20, 2021
In light of the CDC’s May 13th advisory for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and in light of recent actions by local health authorities, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is rescinding its previous COVID liturgical policy (dated April 6, 2021) and replacing it with the directives below. In addition to the CDC’s update, our changes are made possible because of several factors:
Because the sacramental life of the University depends on the office of the Bishop, all liturgies celebrated at the University of Saint Francis must follow these guidelines.
Anyone (whether vaccinated or not) with a cough or fever, or who may otherwise be feeling sick, should still remain home.
Masks or face coverings are now optional at public liturgies. Health authorities recommend that unvaccinated individuals still wear masks.
Pastors who perceive sufficient support among their parishioners for the opportunity to continuing worshiping with a fully masked congregation can designate particular Mass times at which masks continue to be required.
Another possibility, if deemed adequate at a parish, is that a clearly defined section of the church could be demarcated as reserved just for those who wish to continue wearing masks. Having such provisions available and publicized as needed would be welcomed by the immunocompromised and by those families concerned about the health of their children.
Strict social distancing is no longer required in churches. However, it is encouraged that, for the time being, a part of each church still be specifically set aside with socially distanced seating at Masses in order to accommodate those who would be more comfortable with that arrangement. At least part of this distanced-seating area may also be designated as requiring masking.
Massgoers may also be encouraged to leave some open space within pews between households and individuals, as a courtesy.
The distribution of the Precious Blood to the people remains suspended. Concelebrating priests ought still to receive by intinction or via a separate chalice. It is recommended that those distributing Holy Communion continue to wear masks while doing so.
Small confessionals may be utilized again, though maintaining the use of larger/more ventilated spaces for the time being would be good to help encourage those who would still not be comfortable with the smaller space.
For further information regarding Diocesan guidelines, refer to the Directives for Conducting Public Liturgies in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend during the COVID-19 Pandemic.