This is a summary of a document provided to priests, parish directors and parish life coordinators of the Diocese of Superior May 20.
Regarding Mass dispensation, suspension and livestream information
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and the suspension of the public celebration of the Mass remains in effect until further notice. The dispensation also suspends the obligation to receive Communion at least once during the Easter season.
Priests who are livestreaming or recording Sunday Mass are encouraged to continue doing so as an opportunity for parishioners to prepare spiritually for reception of Holy Communion in addition to continuing the promotion of the benefits of Spiritual Communion, especially for those who do not and or are unable to attend a Communion service.
Communion services outside of Mass
The bishop indicates that any priest 65 years of age or older, or with high-risk health factors, should contact him prior to celebrating a Communion service.
He also reiterates his request for anyone with flu-like symptoms or a temperature higher than 100.4 to “please, please, please” refrain from attending services. The bishop said he does not want to put anyone’s health in unnecessary risk, including those in high-risk categories, whom he asks to consider staying home, “for the sake of your own health.”
Masks should be worn at all times, the bishop said. Hand sanitizer should be located at least at all doors and near the priest distributing Communion.
Weather permitting, entrance and exit doors should be left open to limit unnecessary touching of door handles and restrooms are to be used only in an emergency.
To allow for attendance of a virtual Mass in preparation for the Eucharist, Communion services should take place after noon and conclude by 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The church building and Communion services
While the layout of each worship space is unique, social distancing of 6 ft. or more is to be maintained between people not living in the same household.
Hands should be sanitized upon entering the church and no surface unnecessarily touched. Worship aids are not to be used or bulletins distributed, and parishioners are asked not to touch pews unless needed for balance.
Communion is to be received only in the hands – with one hand under the other – and no gloves are to be worn. The priest or Eucharistic minister distributing Communion should sanitize their hands often – between each group of eight communicants and immediately if their hand happens to touch another person.
The bishop notes that, regarding taking communion home to another family member, it is only permitted by a trained Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and only in a dedicated pyx, with permission of the priest and only to someone living in the same home. During the pandemic, only priests who are healthy and wearing proper protective gear are to take Communion to the homebound.
Bishop Powers acknowledged the current offering is not the desired return to public celebration of the Mass, and he asked for patience and prayers for himself, the priests and lay faithful “who are working so diligently to make our Communion services a truly holy encounter with our Lord and Savior.”