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After weeks of watching Mass from home, necessary to protect the safety and health of all during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we will soon be able to celebrate Mass inside the walls of our churches again! 

On Tuesday, May 12, Archbishop Vigneron announced liturgical directives and guidelines for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Detroit to resume public Masses as soon as Tuesday, May 19. He wrote: “In keeping with this gradual reopening of our society, it is necessary that we make similar arrangements within our local Church to allow once again for the communal celebration of Holy Mass, which at its core is the most ‘essential’ activity known to our world.”

This gives us hope, yet we are still experiencing the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic in southeast Michigan and around the world. So as we return to Mass, we need to carefully observe the directives and guidelines put in place with the assistance of medical, liturgical and public health experts to keep our places of worship safe.

“The Mass you may attend in the weeks ahead will look and feel quite different from the Mass you remember from two months ago,” Archbishop Vigneron said in his letter to the faithful. It will be imperative for all of us — pastors, parish staff, volunteers and all the faithful — to work together during these times. The pandemic is not over and safety precautions must be followed in order to promote the continued health and safety of everyone in our community.”

Here are the top things you need to know about returning to Mass in the Archdiocese of Detroit — you can read the full guidelines for further details.

1. Pastors may resume public Masses on Tuesday, May 19.

Individual pastors can, at their discretion, begin celebrating Mass publicly as early as Tuesday, May 19 — provided that they implement the conditions provided by Archbishop Vigneron and the liturgical team of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Members of the faithful are encouraged to contact their parish to inquire about attending an upcoming Mass.

2. Public Masses will resume at all parishes by Friday, May 29.

All Masses in the Archdiocese of Detroit will be held again on Friday, May 29, with parishes implementing the conditions outlined by Archbishop Vigneron in consultation with the recommendations of medical, liturgical and public health leaders. Members of the faithful are encouraged to contact their parishes to inquire about attending an upcoming Mass.

3. Everyone attending Mass must wear face coverings.

For anyone planning to attend Mass, it is required that face coverings or masks be worn in and around the church. Masks may be removed momentarily to receive Communion. The only exception for face coverings is children under two years old.

4. All should practice physical distancing, staying at least six feet apart. 

Inside churches and on the church property, physical distancing must be practiced by staying at least six feet apart, with the exception of individuals from the same household. 

The total capacity of parish churches cannot exceed 25 percent in order to allow space for such distancing. Depending on church layout, capacity may need to be capped at under 25 percent, at the pastor’s discretion.

An additional location on the church property such as a social hall or parking lot can be used as an “overflow” location. The capacity of these locations should also not exceed 25 percent of the space. The same physical distancing applies to indoor and outdoor Masses.

5. You will be able to receive Communion.  

Communion will be available to those attending Mass, although it is not a moral obligation. The distribution of the Precious Blood to the faithful will continue to be suspended. Those receiving Communion must remain at least six feet apart from the priest or extraordinary minister. 

The faithful have a right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand. To mitigate contamination concerns among the congregation, pastors may consider asking those who receive on the tongue to approach Holy Communion last, and/or he may designate a separate distribution line for these individuals.

6. Church facilities will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Adhering to the provided guidelines, parishes will conduct regular and thorough cleaning and disinfection. After each liturgy, items used by the public will be disinfected, such as door handles, restrooms and pews. All vessels will be cleaned with warm water and soap.

Hand sanitizer will be available in the sanctuary as needed during a liturgy. If possible, hand sanitizer will also be placed near the entrances of the church. You are invited to bring your own supply of hand sanitizer to use before Holy Communion.

7. The Sunday Mass dispensation will continue through Sunday, September 6. 

The dispensation from our Sunday obligation to attend Mass has been extended through Sunday, September 6 and it applies to everyone. This means that although public Sunday Masses are resuming, you are not required to attend in person. You can instead continue to watch livestreams of Sunday Mass.

As we prepare to once again celebrate Mass with our parish communities, family, and friends, we must be sure to follow all the provided guidelines to protect the health of all the faithful, clergy and religious in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

There are additional details and guidelines for our return to public Masses in the Archdiocese of Detroit. All guidelines, directives and important messages for the response to the coronavirus crisis can be found at aod.org/emergencyresponse.