PORTLAND---The Diocese of Portland has announced major updates to the pandemic protocols currently in place at all 141 Catholic churches in Maine.
The following actions take effect on Monday, May 24:
- Masks are no longer required for any person at any time, inside or outside the churches.
- Capacity limits, advance registration, and the gathering of contact tracing information for those attending Masses are eliminated.
- Pew seating arrangements to establish six or more feet of distance between each person/family are eliminated. Those attending Masses are welcome to sit where they are comfortable. All pews will be available for seating.
- The distribution of Holy Communion to the homebound is restored.
- Indoor choir practices can be held without distancing.
For those not yet comfortable with a return to Mass, many churches will provide spaces in other areas, like parish halls, for additional, spread out seating during Masses. The extensive livestreaming schedule at Maine parishes will also remain in place. Moving forward, adjustments to the schedule will be made in the “Parishes and Mass Times” section of the diocesan website. The obligation to attend Mass will continue to be dispensed for the foreseeable future.
“The strict adherence to state and diocesan guidelines has led to the successful operation of our churches since last June. I am so grateful for the many staff, volunteers, and parishioners who sacrificed and followed the protocols to ensure that Maine Catholics were able to participate in Mass and receive the Eucharist over the last year,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “The Catholic Church always works to guide those it encounters to live in harmony and peace. We hope that by continuing to offer a variety of ways to participate in Mass and through updating these protocols, all will feel welcomed to grow in their faith together in Christ.”