The Diocese of Joliet released a plan today for the phased reopening of its parishes, agreed upon by the governor’s office. The first phase could be put into place as soon as May 23.
The bishops of the Chicago Province developed the multi-phased plan, “in consultation with and the approval of state and local public health officials and civil authorities,” according to a statement on the diocese website.
Phase I of the plan would allow parishes to reopen for baptism, reconciliation, weddings and funerals, but with no more than 10 in attendance.
Phase IA would let churches reopen for private prayer and adoration, again with a limit of 10 in attendance.
Phase II would see the reopening of weekday and weekend masses for larger groups – the size of which would be determined based on the capacity of the church and state guidelines. This phase can only take place with the permission of public authorities.
Ensuring Public Safety Is Critical
“We must be honest about the coronavirus,” wrote Bishop Richard Pates in a letter on the diocese website. “We expect this situation to continue for some weeks, and any plan for reopening our Churches for public worship must include every precaution to ensure public safety.”
Before any phase can begin, each parish needs to recruit volunteers to assist in the reopening plan. Those selected must complete a training webinar, which would start the week of May 18.
Each parish must then have a certification of readiness to reopen, after completing all action steps and showing the necessary number of people are in place to carry them out.
Some of those steps include having a team of six, including the pastor, to supervise cleaning, set-up and greeting, and to co-manage operations, and having an on-going procurement program for safety and cleaning supplies.
Diocese Approval Required
The Diocese of Joliet must approve the implementation plan before each phase can begin. Adjustments will be made to the plan as needed.
Online masses will continue in the meantime.
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