June 19, 2020

Dear Pastor,

Over the course of the last week, the Minnesota Department of Health issued updated guidance for faith communities, including requirements for providing food and beverages for onsite consumption. Instituting these new provisions will require thoughtful planning, and they will need to be incorporated into each parish’s preparedness plan. As we are just beginning to restart public Masses with all the preparation this alone entails, I am continuing – until further notice -our current policy of no meals, receptions or other social gatherings in the church or on church grounds, including for baptisms, weddings or funerals. Families are free, of course, to plan such gatherings and receptions at other venues in the community that are prepared to host them.
I want to highlight a few other matters with regard to our churches:

  • While churches are allowed to celebrate Masses at 50% capacity (with a 250- person limit), the 6-foot distancing rule between people from different households must still be observed. The capacity allowance does not supersede the distancing requirement.
  • Eucharistic adoration in the main body of the church must adhere to the 50%capacity requirement (with a 250-person limit) as well as the 6-foot social distancing rule. Adoration in separate chapels should be limited to 2 people, who observe the 6-foot distancing rule if they are not from the same household.
  • Holy Communion must be received in the hand only; members of the liturgical assembly are not to receive the Precious Blood at this time.
  • Please ensure that you and the other ministers at Mass are wearing face coverings during the entrance procession and recessional as well as during the distribution of Holy Communion. And please strongly encourage your parishioners to wear face coverings when they enter and exit the church as well as during Mass, removing them only to receive Holy Communion. This remains an important precautionary measure for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • It is extremely important to follow all of the health and safety requirements of our diocesan protocols/guidelines incorporated into your plans. As I said a few weeks ago, people are watching what we do, and we need to be good role models. I have received a few reports of parishes not following the protocols. This puts people at risk of serious illness and could lead to the shutdown of public Masses in your parish. Be diligent in following the protocols.
  • In my email to you last Monday announcing that the diocese filed for bankruptcy reorganization, I indicated that we have created a special webpage to keep you updated on the process. Please visit https://stcdio.org/reorganization/ for the latest information, copies of legal documents and a list of frequently asked questions.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud