Archbishop Listecki says 'there's a hunger for people to return' with Mass set to resume May 31

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki in a letter to Archdiocese of Milwaukee parishes and schools Thursday, May 14 announced Sunday Mass will resume on Sunday, May 31. This, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state's coronavirus stay-at-home order Wednesday, May 13 -- essentially reopening the state.

Archbishop Listecki said the Milwaukee Archdiocese is using a phased approach "in the gradual return to ministry" -- noting that Mass won't be the same as it was before COVID-19.

Since March, Milwaukee Catholics have taken part in Mass from home, with seats empty at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. That will change starting May 31.

"There's a hunger for people to return, and I think that hunger goes into people being a part of the congregation and assembly, to be with other people," said Archbishop Listecki.

Changes include only 25% of congregants able to attend Mass -- with those 65 and older, or with pre-existing conditions asked to stay home. There will be considerable social distancing and sanitation to make sure parishioners remain safe.

"We wanted to make sure what we were doing was trying to be safe for our neighbors," said Archbishop Listecki. "The burden shifts to all of us to look out for our neighbors."

The Eucharist will only be delivered by hand, and there will be no presentation of gifts.

Archbishop Listecki said amid the pandemic, there are many lessons.

"The pandemic kind of brought to mind there may not be tomorrow," said Archbishop Listecki. "Understand that my neighbor's hurts are my hurts."

Below is Archbishop Listecki's letter to parishes and schools:

Dear Father, Parish Director, Deacon and Parish and School Staff

May the Peace of the Risen Lord be with you!

As we continue to move toward the gradual return to Sunday Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, the question naturally arises about the full resumption of parish and school activities. With the ruling of the State Supreme Court yesterday overturning the Governor’s Emergency Order, you may begin to feel pressure to restore various Sacramental, prayer, ministry and other parish activities to their pre-Covid-19 state. Even though the Governor’s order was overturned, we don’t know what restrictions will come next from the State legislature or local government.

To assist you in the gradual return to ministry, I have asked my staff to develop The Catholic Comeback matrix that follows my directive of a phased approach based upon current health conditions and recommendations. The matrix is available here. Using this phased approach will guide us regardless of what actions are taken at the state or local level.

We remain in the “Safer at Home” phase until Tuesday, May 26, when we will move into Phase 1. Sunday Mass will resume with Masses on Sunday, May 31 (including Masses of Anticipation on the evening of May 30).

Other Sacramental and ministry activities are listed on the matrix. If you have questions, please contact the archdiocesan central offices for guidance in the appropriate ministry area.

I know people are anxious to return to normal. However, we must also acknowledge that people are anxious about returning to public activities and crowded spaces. Following the matrix is a prudent approach and a reasonable and responsible way to resume Catholic life in our archdiocese, without taking unnecessary risks. The safety and well-being of our people is a top priority. Please continue to communicate to your people about your plans for returning to Mass and other activities.

I am so proud of the way you have handled ourselves and your pastoral responsibilities during this pandemic. I am proud to be your archbishop. Prayer and patience must continue to mark our actions. God is with us; He does not abandon us. In everything we do, may the praise and glory of God be our motivation.

With assurance of prayers during this glorious Easter season, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee

CLICK HERE for a look at the Milwaukee Archdiocese's "Catholic Comeback" matrix.

Meanwhile, FOX6 News will continue to air/stream Sunday Mass until in-person Mass resumes: