From: Office of Bishop
Date: Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 1:15 PM
Subject: June 15 COVID-19 Liturgical Updates
To: Diocesan Communications
We are glad the pandemic continues to recede in our part of the world, and continue praying for those countries which are still experiencing much suffering and pain. I am happy the USA is sharing millions of doses of vaccines with countries who lack the means to develop and purchase them.
As a result of the improvements in the public health situation and the rising numbers of people getting vaccinated, we are able to adapt our safety protocols for worship accordingly.
Starting June 15, the main change is that if you have been vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask for indoor worship. If you have not been vaccinated, you are asked to wear a mask indoors for your own protection. There are no more restrictions on social distancing and seating limits for indoor worship. We can take down the ropes and taped closures of pews. If parishes wish to continue having a Mass outside, no one is required to wear a mask at all. Please post signs on your church doors, in your bulletins, and on your websites and social media to announce these changes. Please see the attached revised guidelines for more details.
Pastors please note: these protocols are all on the “honor system”. No one should be forced or requested to “prove” their vaccination status to participate in worship. No one should be criticized if they choose not to be vaccinated, and/or wear a mask inside our churches. The "mask rules" for offices, schools, travel, public transportation, and businesses are still being worked out by government health officials. But church-goers may dispense with the mask if they have been vaccinated. Our ushers and greeters should extend a warm welcome and answer questions about the new policy, but they should never be used as “mask police”.
You may, but are not required, to continue live-streaming Mass. It’s better to come together in person for the Eucharist. But if significant numbers of your parishioners are ill, vulnerable or not ready to attend in person, you may wish to continue the live stream option temporarily.
Let’s extend a warm “welcome home” to our parishioners who have been starving spiritually during this pandemic. The Lord has given us “Bread from heaven, containing all sweetness within it.” Let us do what the Good Shepherd commands us and open wide our doors to “Feed His lambs, feed His sheep.”
In the overwhelming love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
The Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, S.J.
Bishop of Oakland