Although many Peoria Diocese parish churches will open for Sunday and weekday Masses, restrictions and precautions remain in place.
“I give thanks to God that our local church is now able to begin a new phase in emerging. step by step, from a medical quarantine,” the bishop of Peoria, wrote Tuesday.
“While outdoor liturgies may continue, by this week, many of our parish churches will have been certified to reopen for Sunday and week day Masses, limiting the size of any given congregation, keeping safe social distancing, and adhering to strict protocols for sanitizing our worship spaces,” he said.
“Our churches may now also be open for private prayer and adoration. At this time, in our experience of a pandemic, those who are vulnerable to infection or simply uncomfortable gathering in larger groups should know in these unusual circumstances they are under no obligation to attend Mass,” Jenky said. “Some might even consider attending a weekday mass rather than Sunday congregation. “
As always, those who are ill should simply stay home, he added.
“I fully comprehend the enormous suffering that the recent ‘fasting’ from the Eucharist has caused for so many believers,” he said. “We are a Eucharistic church, and the Mass is our greatest source of grace, and the very summit of our lived holy communion with the risen Christ. Let us pray fervently that a later or more virulent outbreak of pandemic would not necessitate a return to greater restrictions on divine service.”
Under that circumstance, because of recent experience with “drive-in” confessions and communion, and enhanced use of the media, “We would perhaps be better prepared to continue pastoral care, even in an extreme situation,” he said.
“I would like to add a special word of thanks and encouragement to our priests who in these difficult days have continued to serve in many creative ways, and especially those who with special training have made themselves available to minister to those ill or dying from the virus,” Jenky said.
“I also wish to thank all those folks who have used their technical gifts to enable others to experience our worship and instruction through live-streaming and social media,” he said. “I would certainly like to praise those families who have regularly come together for shared prayer and reflection, especially on the Lord’s Day.”
"May all these good efforts in the service of God and neighbor continue even when our society returns to better health," he continued.
“After living through these last several months of testing and loss, may we never again take for granted the enormous gift of our parish communities and the infinite consolation of the Mass and the sacraments."
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