Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Diocese Modifies Mask Guidelines for Clergy and Lay Ministers

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Diocese of Harrisburg announced today that, effective immediately, masking guidelines are being restored for clergy and lay members for the distribution of Holy Communion for all parishes.

As COVID-19 cases continued to rise, these guidelines are being restored in caring for the health, safety and spiritual wellbeing of parishioners and their communities. The full guidelines include:

  • Masks are to be worn for the distribution of Holy Communion by all priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during the celebration of Holy Mass and outside the celebration of Holy Mass. This includes visits to the sick and homebound and applies even to those who are vaccinated.
  • Masks are to be worn by ushers and greeters whenever they are exercising their service. When they return to their pews for the celebration of Holy Mass, they may choose to lower their masks.
  • While there is no mask requirement for parishioners at this time, each parishioner is strongly encouraged to make a responsible decision about the use of masks and vaccinations following in the examples of all Pennsylvania Bishops, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who have all been vaccinated for the common good.
  • All those distributing Holy Communion are to sanitize their hands prior to the distribution and during the distribution if there has been contact with a recipient.
  • Hand sanitizing stations should continue to be made available to all who enter our churches and institutions.
  • Pew sanitization should continue.

As a reminder, this Sunday, August 15, in collaboration with the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania, Bishop Gainer is restoring the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and holy days. However, by longstanding Church law, this obligation does not apply to those who are:

  • Sick
  • Have a serious health risk
  • In a household with those at risk
  • Primary caregivers to those at risk
  • Have serious anxiety or concerns about being in a large-group setting due to COVID-19
  • Unable to attend Mass in person

As an act of charity, anyone who believes they might have COVID-19 or one of its variants or have been exposed should stay home.

Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the death and Resurrection of the Lord, reading the sacred Scriptures, and uniting themselves to Christ. They are also encouraged to view a broadcast of live stream of the Mass, which are continuing across the Diocese.

Our coronavirus mitigation efforts will continue to evolve, based on the most up-to-date public health information. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the COVID section on our website, www.hbgdiocese.org.

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