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Diocese to permit in-person Mass beginning Monday

Times Observer file photo Pictured is St Joseph RC Church in Warren.

The Diocese of Erie has offered guidance that will allow in-person Mass to start as soon as Monday.

“It’s not like turning a light switch on,” said the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie.

In addition to the announcement, the diocese released a “significant series of protocols regarding the return to public worship, meaning not every parish will be positioned to celebrate public Masses immediately,” according to a statement from the diocese.

That guidance limits the maximum number of participations to “One-third of the building capacity, utilizing only every third pew” and “nothing is to be left in the pews,” such as hymnals.

For churches in the diocese, the guidance from the bishop also states that “a mask is obligatory for all who wish to enter.”

With the move into the “Green” phase in Warren County, churches of all denominations will have to start exploring when – and, just as importantly, how – in-person worship gatherings can move forward.

For the diocese, Persico also announced that Mass would be suspended in any county that moves back into the “Red” phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

“There’s no doubt the road ahead has significant challenges for all of us,” Persico said. “Some of our pastors are elderly or may have other health concerns. I will support their decisions about whether or not they feel comfortable offering public Mass.”

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