The wearing of face masks for indoor church services, meetings and events in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette has been made mandatory for those over the age of 5, effective Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. The strict provisions made in a letter to parishioners dated July 28, 2020 were a follow up to a May 8 letter to parishioners encouraging them to wear face masks as well as offering guidelines on the return to public worship in the diocese.
Bishop Doerfler acknowledged that “Though the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of face masks in limiting the spread of COVID‐19 is still inconclusive, there is sufficient evidence to judge prudently that we should wear face masks to limit the spread of the disease.”
Bishop Doerfler noted that while wearing a mask can be uncomfortable, he asked that parishioners do so “out of concern for each other.”
Priests, deacons and others ministering in the sanctuary, which is located around the altar and at a distance from the congregation, are not required to wear masks. However, they should during the distribution of communion or when in close proximity to the congregation.
Anyone who is unable to wear a face mask, or has health concerns should remain at home and not feel an obligation to attend Mass in person. Watching televised or livestreamed Masses or prayerfully reading spiritual materials is encouraged.
“I understand that for many, being unable to approach the Lord’s altar in community at this time is a great sadness,” Bishop Doerfler wrote. “I recognize and appreciate your sacrifice and pray for the time we can all gather for worship together.”
The full letter may be found at www.dioceseofmarquette.org/response.