June 2, 2020

Dear Pastor,

I’m writing to address a concern I have about the faithful choosing not to wear masks during liturgies. I witnessed not everyone using them at a recent liturgy I celebrated. As you know, our diocesan protocols/guidelines for the resumption of larger public Masses recommend, but don’t require, members of the liturgical assembly to wear masks.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s most recent guidance to faith-based communities strongly encourages worshippers to wear face coverings as a precautionary measure. It is an important way of preventing those who may have the virus (and not know it) from spreading it to others. As I noted in my email to you last Friday, I strongly encourage that parishioners use face coverings when they enter and exit the church as well as during Mass, removing them only to receive Holy Communion.

Please urge your parishioners to wear face coverings. Consider having extras on hand, if possible, to give to those who arrive without them. You may point out that you as celebrant and other ministers are required to wear face coverings during the entrance procession and recessional as well as during the distribution of Holy Communion. Parishioners’ use of masks is an act of solidarity with everyone else coming to worship. Ultimately, this is about their health and safety as well as your own as more people slowly return to Mass.

I know that implementing all of the protocols can be challenging. You have had to be flexible and adaptable as our guidelines and the governor’s executive orders have evolved. For that reason, I am not amending our protocols/guidelines any further at this time to mandate masks. I hope instead that your parishioners will respond positively to your encouragement to wear them.

I remain grateful for all that you are doing to prepare our people and our churches for the resumption of public Masses, and I continue to pray for you and your ministry.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud