KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Diocese of Kalamazoo says it plans to resume public Masses at its parishes beginning on May 27, but there will be safety precautions in place.
In a news release, Bishop Paul J. Bradley says he has conducted a series of meetings with all clergy members and diocesan staffers to create a reopening plan, which calls for parishes to open at 25% capacity.
Bradley is also asking each pastor to convene a team to assist in preparing and planning to welcome back fellow parishioners. Other guidelines are being finalized and will be released in the next few days.
News 8 spoke with the bishop through video conference Thursday afternoon about the announcement.
“They’re not going to be seated together. We will seat people in every other pew separated by six feet of distance from one another,” Bradley said.
The diocese suspended public celebrations on March 20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We plan to do everything we can to ensure the safety of God’s people and thorough preparedness is necessary,” Bradley said in the release. “We look forward to celebrating Pentecost (Sunday, May 31) with a renewed joy and hope for the future even though the number of people able to participate during our Level 1 return will be reduced due to our adherence to social distancing guidelines.”
Bradley says the diocese will be allowing Mass to start the day before the stay at home order is set to expire. He says the services that day are small enough to comply with state requirements.
Many parishes have been livestreaming its Masses along with other outreach efforts.
“I think at least 30 of our 59 parishes have been livestreaming their Masses,” Bradley said.
Even with precautions, the diocese knows there is a long road ahead and plans to use phases to return to standard procedures.
“We all understand, we’re not going to get back to normal for probably quite a while even though we’re beginning the public celebration of Mass,” Bradley said.
The Grand Rapids Diocese has canceled Mass through May 28 and is also working on a plan to resume in-person services.