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In-person masses return to southern Massachusetts this weekend with restrictions, changes

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FALL RIVER — The Fall River Diocese has released a video message, Returning to Mass, from Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., for parishioners across Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands in preparation for the return of public celebrations of Masses in their parish churches.

As announced last week, churches in the Fall River Diocese will reopen for public Masses this weekend, beginning with Vigil Masses on Saturday, May 30th.

Most parishes will be resuming Masses with a modified schedule. Those considering attending Mass this weekend are strongly advised to visit their parish website, check parish social media channels, or contact the parish office for important information on the resumption of Masses specific to their parish.

“I am grateful to God for the opportunity we have now to come back together to celebrate the Eucharist and sacraments in our churches,” says Bishop da Cunha in the video.

He then quickly points out that the experience of going to Mass will be different than it was two months ago before the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“Parishes will be following critical state and diocesan guidelines,” Bishop da Cunha explains. “The pandemic is not over and safety precautions must be followed.”

The video provides an overview of some of the major changes to expect including: a limit on the number of persons allowed in the church; a mandatory six-foot social distancing space between all non-family members in attendance; the requirement to wear a mask during Mass; and the need for controlled entrances and exits to and from the building. Communion will only be allowed by the hand and not the tongue. Singing will also not occur as of yet.

Of the restrictions and requirements in place, Bishop da Cunha says, “…they are so necessary and important to keep all of us healthy and safe.”

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until further notice. Vulnerable, at-risk or otherwise concerned parishioners are urged to stay home. Those who are experiencing symptoms of illness must remain at home.

“People should not feel they are obligated to come to church, some would probably wish to stay home, some probably need to stay home,” the bishop says in his video message.

He notes that parishes will continue to offer Masses online to serve those not yet ready to return.

Masses will resume across the Fall River Diocese this May 30-31st weekend as the Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost, recalling the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles. Bishop da Cunha concludes his video message with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will accompany priests and the faithful people of the diocese as Masses return, and will bring all safely to the end of this pandemic.

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