Churches reopen with an emphasis on safety

Communion minister Deb Simon gently drops the Eucharist into the hand of a parishioner at Sacred Heart Church in Topeka. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Months after all public Masses in the archdiocese were canceled on March 17, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann announced last week that parishes were opening up — slowly and carefully.

In a video message posted on the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas website, Archbishop Naumann announced the resumption of public Masses beginning May 9.

“After consultation with medical experts, government and community leaders, in accord with Governor Kelly’s most recent executive order, with the recommended social distancing and other health precautions, the celebration of public Mass in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas may resume on May 9,” said Archbishop Naumann.

“Please note that I said, ‘may resume.’”

A man heads into St. Joseph Church in Topeka for Sunday Mass. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Not all parishes will open on the same date or in the same way for various reasons, he said.

First, the governor’s executive order permits counties to have more stringent requirements than the state. Second, each pastor must make a determination when and how his parish will be able to meet archdiocesan safety protocols. Third, each pastor must also take into account his own age and personal risk factors.

If their pastors have not already informed them in another way, parishioners should consult their own parish website or social media platforms to see if and when their parish will resume public Masses.

Father Tim Haberkorn, masked up, looks around St. Joseph Church in Topeka before Sunday Mass begins. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The pandemic is not over, said Archbishop Naumann. Therefore, the general dispensation that removed the Sunday Mass obligation continues indefinitely. He urged those in high risk categories because of their age, health, or who have a high level of anxiety, to not attend Mass.

“I also make an urgent appeal to all Catholics [to] use extraordinary caution and good judgment in determining if you should attend Mass,” he said. “Please err on the side of caution. Be assured there is no sin committed if you and your family choose not to attend Mass.”

Parishes should continue to livestream Masses for those who choose not to attend Mass.

A man prays the rosary before Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Church in Topeka. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Those who do choose to attend should review the archdiocesan safety protocols for participation at Mass and reception of holy Communion before attending. These include protocols about social distancing, wearing masks, and other new, but expected, behaviors.

The protocols can be found on parish websites and the archdiocesan website. The protocols will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary.

“These protocols must be observed without exception,” said the archbishop. “Please follow them to protect the safety of others and in order not to jeopardize the ability of your parish to offer public celebrations of the Eucharist.

“Emerging from the public health crisis will be gradual, involving a series of steps before parish life and community life will return to normal. I am grateful with the necessary limitations and prudent precautions we are able to begin to offer again public Masses and the opportunity to receive holy Communion.”

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