St. Vincent de Paul Discusses Plan to Resume Church Services
The Catholic Church made news this week when Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced that worship services would resume on May 26, despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order.
State guidelines call for capping attendance at 10 people, with a gradual increase expected as COVID-19 cases decline. However, Hebda insists that churches can reopen safely. The archbishop posted this video on YouTube May 15:
Meanwhile, St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park plans to resume in-person worship next week with some modifications in place.
“Certainly our archbishop has been working very closely with the Centers for Disease Control, so we’re going to be following all the guidelines for safety and social distancing and sanitizing the church between masses,” said Fr. Dennis Zehren of St. Vincent de Paul. “So I think that we’ll be able to comply with all the regulations and directives and still be able to bring people together safely to pray.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, St. Vincent de Paul became innovative in how it offered worship services to parishioners.
“On Easter Sunday, we did an outdoor mass up on the roof in the snow. A few weeks after that, we did another parking lot service through a FM transmitter, so we were able to broadcast the mass through the transmitter so that people could hear it in their cars,” Fr. Zehren said.
In addition, it recorded masses for people to view on the church website and its Facebook page.
Church officials say they will continue to offer online mass each weekend for the foreseeable future. They plan to post the service on their website and Facebook page Saturday evening, and have that available until Monday morning at 8 a.m. On Sunday mornings, they will transmit the mass via FM radio to anyone who wishes to stay in their cars but still wants to participate in mass from the parking lot.
For those who decide to attend mass indoors, things will look different.
“We’re going to have some pews roped off so people will be able to have a safe, social distance from one another,” Fr. Zehren said. “Like I said, we’re following all of the guidelines and directives that have been set forth by our archdiocese, taking cues from the Centers for Disease Control and the state.”
When asked what parishioners have said about reopening, he says the responses have been mixed.
“Some of them are a little more concerned, some of them are a little more eager,” he said. “So we’re just commending each individual to their own discernment, to their own conscience, to see if they’re ready, to see if they feel safe, to see if they’re in a state of risk. So we’re asking everybody to do some self-assessment before they come to mass.”
In the meantime, he says all parishioners will receive a letter letting them know that mass will look different in the coming months.
“But we always say that our faith is ever-ancient, and ever-new,” Fr. Zehren said. “So it’s the same old church, but we might have to do things in some new ways.”