MILWAUKEE -- Due to the high concentration and volume of COVID-19 cases on Milwaukee's south side, many Catholic parishes in the area will delay public Masses until further notice.
16 parishes will remain closed, according to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The decision leaves some parishioners feeling a bit too distant from the church at a time when they need it most.
"I feel like I've been locked out of church for three months. I have not been able to receive communion," said Kathy Glembin, a parishioner at the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
Glembin feels lost not being able to go inside the place she calls her spiritual home.
"The church, all churches are essential," Glembin said. "We've missed Holy Week for Catholics, Good Friday, Holy Thursday, Easter Sunday, the May Crowning for the blessed virgin, the first communions, now we're going to miss Pentecost?"
Basilica of St. Josaphat
Archbishop Jerome Listecki released guidelines earlier this month for parishes to resume Mass starting May 31. However, the new decision affecting those on the south side means closures will last at least two more weeks. The potential for each parish to open, the Archdiocese said, will be assessed on a week-by-week basis and is dependent on the status of the coronavirus within the surrounding communities.
Father Javier Bustos
"We are hoping to delay only one week. However, things may change. We don't know," said Father Javier Bustos. "We have to see, and we have to understand that our priority is making sure everybody is safe."
Bustos is among the pastors working with Listecki to safely reopen soon.
"Most of us, maybe all of us, on the south side of Milwaukee, we have faced this virus very closely," Bustos said. "Having funerals. Having to deal with the sick. Parishioners who are sick. I think in the end people understand."
It may not feel the same as being at church in person, but the Archdiocese still has Mass available online.
"I can go get my hair done, my nails, I can go to a tavern, I can go to a restaurant, but the thing that offers me the most strength in my life I can't come to," said Glembin.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki
For those attending Mass next Sunday, May 31, there is a plan called the Catholic Comeback released that has all the details on safety precautions.
To receive updates on status, or find out if live streaming is available at these parishes, contact Amy Grau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414-588-1506.
The following parishes on the south side are affected by the decision:
Statement from Archbishop Jerome Listecki:
“After consultation with the Vicar General for the area and with some of the pastors of the near south side Milwaukee parishes, I have concerns about our ability to control both attendance and proper social distancing protocols. The health and safety of our people is our priority. I do not want to put anyone at undue risk. Given my understanding of the current health realities, the risk of returning to Mass for Pentecost is a risk in good conscience that I cannot take.”