ST. PETERSBURG — The Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg will resume offering Sunday Masses to the public beginning on the weekend of May 30 and 31. For Catholics, the Saturday Vigil Mass fulfills the Sunday Mass obligation.
Bishop Gregory Parkes made the announcement Wednesday. He said the decision was made “after prayer and consultation with government and public health officials and our priests.”
Parkes said restrictions will be put in place to protect the health of worshipers. The announcement also acknowledged that some churches might need more time to safely resume Sunday services.
On March 18, as concern about the coronavirus pandemic grew, Parkes suspended the public celebration of Masses. He allowed the celebration of daily Masses to begin again on May 11 and said then that he hoped that Catholics in the diocese that serves Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties would be able to celebrate Mass by Pentecost, an important Christian festival, which falls on May 31.
“May 30th and 31st will indeed be days to rejoice!" he said Wednesday. "Not only will public Masses on Sunday resume, but we also celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and graced them with gifts to courageously live the Gospel.”
In a video and letter of his announcement, he also said: “We are called to be good stewards of our health and to take practical steps to avoid spreading illness. Therefore, restrictions will be in place since we are still in the midst of a pandemic.”
Restrictions to protect parishioners from the coronavirus will include limiting the number of people in church and frequent sanitizing, Parkes said.
In March, the bishop issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass to those who are at greater risk for the coronavirus because of age, illness or underlying health conditions.