Returning to Mass: July 1 Marks End of Dispensation in Minnesota

Returning to Mass: July 1 Marks End of Dispensation in Minnesota
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a painful time of separation that necessitated, for a short
while, suspension of public Masses and the dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend
Mass. Nonetheless, since May 2020, Minnesota’s bishops have made available the public
celebration of Mass to those who wished to attend. Parishes have done an amazing job creating
safe spaces for worship and the sacraments during the past year.

Now, as the pandemic subsides, and public gathering restrictions and safety protocols are lifted,
it is time to gather as the Body of Christ once again. Therefore, the bishops and diocesan
administrators of the Minnesota Catholic Conference have decided to reinstate the obligation to
attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation beginning the weekend of July 3-4, 2021.

Why is attending Mass in-person so important?
St. John Chrysostom reminds us, “You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great
multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is
something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the
priests” (CCC 2179).

Attending the in-person celebration of Sunday Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist are vital
to our lives as Catholic Christians. We were created for Communion. Whether you are returning
to your home parish, or seeking a local parish on vacation, your participation in the Mass unites
you with the Church — the Body of Christ. This communion transforms us as persons and
enables us to make manifest the Kingdom of God in our world. The celebration of the Eucharist
truly is the source and summit of our faith.

Pope Francis, in his homily on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2018, said, “Jesus prepares a
place for us here below, because the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church. It gives her
birth and rebirth; it gathers her together and gives her strength. But the Eucharist also prepares
for us a place on high, in eternity, for it is the Bread of heaven.”

Does this mean there will no longer be any dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day

Although the general dispensation will no longer be available, the Church has always recognized
that certain circumstances can excuse a person from the requirement to observe the obligation.
Persons are excused from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays or Holy Days under the
following circumstances:

Returning to Mass: July 1 Marks End of Dispensation in Minnesota

1. You have reason to believe your health would be significantly compromised if you were
to contract a communicable illness (i.e., you have underlying conditions or are in a highrisk category).
2. You exhibit flu-like symptoms.
3. You have good reason to think you might be asymptomatic of a contagious illness (e.g.,
you were in recent contact with someone who tested positive for a contagious illness such
as COVID or influenza).
4. You care for the sick, homebound, or infirmed.
5. You are pregnant or you are 65 years of age or older (per the CDC’s recommendation for
high-risk individuals).
6. You cannot attend Mass through no fault of your own (e.g., no Mass is offered; you are
infirm; or, while wanting to go, you are prevented for some reason you cannot control,
such as your ride did not show up).
7. You have significant fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass.

If situations 1 through 3 apply to you, prudent concern for your neighbor should lead you to stay
home. If you fall within situations 4-7, please exercise good judgment, consider the common
good, and know you would not be held to the obligation of attending Mass. For further questions
about the application of any of these situations, please contact your pastor. These categories will
be reviewed in due course and revised as needed.

Those within the categories enumerated above must still observe the Lord’s Day and are
encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death, and
resurrection; an excellent way to do this is by praying the Liturgy of the Hours and participating
in a broadcast/livestream of the Sunday Mass.

More information, answers to frequently asked questions, and a portal to each diocese’s
protocols can be found at the website

The return of our faith family to Mass is a joyous occasion. With that in mind, we also encourage
the faithful to post on social media about their return-to-Mass worship experiences using the
hashtag #backtomassmn. Wherever you may be, welcome home!

Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis
Most Rev. Andrew H. Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis
Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop of Winona-Rochester
Most Rev. Donald J. Kettler, Bishop of St. Cloud
Most Rev. Daniel J. Felton, Bishop of Duluth
Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Apostolic Administrator of Crookston
Very Rev. Douglas L. Grams, Diocesan Administrator of New Ulm

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