TOLEDO, Ohio — Public mass has been suspended at congregations because of coronavirus, but soon, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo will begin resuming service.
The diocese will resume public mass the weekend of May 30 and 31; the close of the Easter season.
There will also be a soft opening for weekday masses which will begin Monday, May 25.
The diocese came to the decision now that the state is entering into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and... 'after prayerful consideration and consultation with the Bishops of Ohio, our diocesan College of Consultors, Presbyteral Council, and the Worship and Sacraments subcommittee of the Pastoral Reintegration Team...'
"We'll honor that capacity given by the State of Ohio which is 50% of the capacity according to the fire code regulations," said Bishop Daniel Thomas of the diocese.
The diocese will suspend certain practices to maintain safety such as the distribution of the Blood of Christ and the Sign of Peace or handshaking.
Families will also have to sit six feet apart from one another to maintain proper social distancing.
Other guidelines include:
- Parishes are to discourage social gatherings before or after Mass/liturgy on the church campus. For example, no receptions, coffee and doughnuts, etc.
- Limiting the Communion procession to single file only or perhaps utilizing non-damaging painter’s tape on the floor marking six foot intervals.
- Priests, deacons, and EMHCs may continue discreetly to use hand sanitizer before Mass, before the Communion procession, and after Mass.
The Diocese of Toledo is ready to get the ball rolling, but the Congregation of B'nai Isreal in Sylvania hasn't made any definite plans.
"We're not in any rush to reopen. We'll be watching the situation and we want to be sure that our congregants are safe and that we're not going to take any risk of life," said Charles Traugott, Executive Director of the Congregation B'nai Isreal.
Traugott added that they're working on which safeguards to put into place which may include wearing masks and limiting capacity.
Bishop Thomas said he's excited for the community to reconnect.
"People call it the new normal. Whatever that new normal is to get back to practicing our faith which is the core of who we are as a community in faith gathered in church on Sunday; to hear the word of God and receive the body of Christ," he said.
The guidelines will remain in effect at least until July 1, 2020, unless there's an amendment, revocation, or continuance.