May the peace, joy, and blessings of Easter be yours today and always.
I am writing to you today in an effort to clear up some confusion that has developed since the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the statewide mask mandate. It is my understanding that the reason for the Supreme Court’s decision was not based on the ineffectiveness of wearing face masks but rather Gov. Evers’ lack of authority to extend the face mask mandate without the support of the Wisconsin Legislature. Even though the state mandate has been lifted, many municipalities have their own mask mandates in force. Based on this, I am strongly encouraging our churches and schools to continue the practices of having everyone (who medically can) wear masks and maintain social distancing. I know many of us are growing weary of having to do these things, but I beg you to continue to make these sacrifices for your benefit and the benefit of others.
As a state, Wisconsin is a leader in the number of individuals who are fully vaccinated. For a few weeks, the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the Diocese of Superior was dropping. However, in just the past two weeks, the number of active COVID cases has risen by more than 250 cases. The recent rise in active cases and the increase of variants is a vivid reminder that we are still fighting a battle against this pandemic, which has affected and continues to affect the lives of so many people in our diocese, state and world. Again, although you may be growing weary of wearing face masks and social distancing, I beg your indulgence for what will hopefully be only a few more weeks. How sad it would be for us to let down our guard and allow the fourth wave of COVID the medical experts are warning about take hold.
During these early days of Easter, let us continue to fight the good fight! Together may we work to keep each other healthy and safe. May the glory of the resurrection bring you comfort and peace.
Yours in the risen Lord,
Most Rev. James P. Powers