CLEVELAND — Since March 17, parishioners across Northeast Ohio have been worshiping from their homes. The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland suspended in-person mass services more than two months ago per orders from Governor Mike DeWine.
But on Memorial Day, in-person mass services can resume, the diocese said.
"It's going to be different for everyone," said Father Don Oleksiak, the administrator for the diocese.
Fr. Oleksiak said for the last few weeks bishops have been making plans for the return of mass and setting guidelines for their individual buildings.
Some of the guidelines that will be implemented, according to the diocese website, include:
- Masses will be limited to less than 50% of the capacity of the church.
- There will be physical distancing with specific seating patterns that allow for a minimum of six feet of space on all sides. Pews will be taped or cordoned off.
- Those attending Mass should wear a face covering.
- Offertory processions are suspended and collection baskets will not be passed during Mass.
- The sign of peace is to be omitted.
- There will be changes to the distribution of Communion, including both ordinary and extraordinary ministers sanitizing their hands before and after distributing Communion, no distribution of the Precious Blood to lay liturgical ministers or the assembly until further notice and maintaining social distancing in the Communion line. Masks/face coverings are to be worn and pulled below the chin before receiving the Eucharist, then replaced.
- It is recommended that the faithful receive Communion in their hand until the pandemic is over.
- After Mass, the congregation should leave in an organized manner. There should be no receptions or social gatherings.
- Pews and other high-traffic areas of the church will be wiped down/cleaned before the next service.
Fr. Oleksiak is asking for cooperating and understanding from all parishioners as their churches reopen.
"The biggest thing I think we need help with is the understanding, the cooperating and patience. This is going to be radically new for all of us. There's no playbook on how to do this," he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is planning to hold in-person Pentecost mass on Sunday, May 31. Check with your parish for service times before attending.