Message from Fr. Scott
Dear Family of Faith,
It pains my heart beyond belief to have to write this to you today. We, your priests, have suffered greatly due to your absence at the Holy Mass, and we know you have as well. While we have been overjoyed at the prospect of recommencing the public celebration of the Mass this weekend, albeit at a limited capacity (300 people), we have been forced to limit that capacity even further.
On Thursday, May 21st, the Diocese of Madison announced that our churches would be open again for public Mass on the weekend of the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 30th-31st, with a crowd-size limit of 25% occupancy capacity in compliance with Dane County Emergency Orders #1 and #2. However, shortly after that announcement was made, on Friday, May 22nd, Dane County issued Emergency Order #3, which changed the status of Churches as regards to regulations for public health and safety, abruptly limiting our capacity to 50 persons per Mass. In the days that followed, various parishes throughout Dane County, and the diocesan offices themselves, have been contacted by public health officials who stated their intention to monitor crowd sizes at Churches this weekend and issue citations for violations.
This is a grave injustice. Similar entities, such as movie theaters and exercise facilities are allowed, under Emergency Order #3, to hold crowds at 25% capacity. As is clear, the reversal of the previous policy specifically targeted churches and religious entities. This is both an infringement upon the inherent right and duty given to us by God to worship Him in spirit and truth and the rights afforded to us by state and federal law.
That being said, the dispensation granted by Bishop Hying, relieving the faithful of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, still stands. The plan to reopen always included proper measures of precaution, as outlined by health officials, and the encouragement to exercise prudence for those who are currently uncomfortable being in crowds, or are particularly vulnerable and of compromised health. We are not asking for special treatment, we are simply asking for the treatment afforded us under divine law and the state and federal constitution.
Thus for the public celebrations of the Holy Mass this weekend we will comply with the Dane County Order #3 under grave protest. Our compliance with this Order will be temporary, in order that the Diocese be afforded time to formulate a plan to move forward. However, we assure you that we will do all that we can to see that this injustice not persist any longer.
For this weekend, no more than 50 people can attend a single Mass. Only those who sign up online can attend. We strongly encourage only those who are comfortable to publicly gather sign up to attend. The priest will be the only person distributing holy communion.
We know that you, the people of God, are starving for the Bread of Life. As your priests, turning any of you away from the Altar of the Lord is the very last thing we would ever want to do.
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, the Holy Spirit has descended upon the Church and dwells in the hearts of the faithful and so there is no reason to despair. We know that, empowered by that hope, we can all have the courage to stand up to injustice, both in order to give proper honor to God and to ensure that His people have access to the Eucharist.
In the Risen Christ,
Fr. Scott and Fr. Bill