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Catholic Masses Can Resume Across Tampa Bay Starting This Weekend, Diocese Says

Catholic church parishioners wearing masks in service
DIOCESE OF ST. PETERSBURG
Catholic churches can resume Sunday Masses the weekend of May 30-31 while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Two weeks after announcing Catholics across Tampa Bay can take part in public Masses from Monday through Saturday, parishioners now will be able to attend on Sundays.

Bishop Gregory Parkes, leader of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, issued a statement Wednesday saying churches have been granted permission to open for Sunday service starting the weekend of May 30-31.

Masses can resume with churches adhering to social distancing guidelines, and Parkes urged caution for those who may be at risk to contract coronavirus.

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“We are called to be good stewards of our health and to take practical steps to avoid spreading illness,” Parkes said in the statement. “Therefore, restrictions will be in place since we are still in the midst of a pandemic. For now, we will need to limit the number of people at church for social distancing and to continue the practice of frequent sanitizing.”

It was unclear how churches would enforce the guidelines, and Parkes said reopening is up to each church's discretion.

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The announcement comes two weeks after churches were allowed to reopen during the week and on Saturdays at 25% capacity.

It also occurs in time for Pentecost Sunday, which is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus.

“Please know that all Catholics remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice,” Parkes said in the statement. “Therefore, if you are at greater risk due to age, illness, or other health conditions, please do not come to Mass.  For those who are able to attend Mass, I urge you to follow CDC guidelines and parish procedures. Also, let us show charity, patience and kindness as processes and plans are developed.”

The diocese has nearly half a million parishioners at 74 parishes in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

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