Blocked-off pews and carefully-placed communion, Catholic Mass returns to Detroit Tuesday

Blocked off pews, a collection plate that doesn't move, and strategically placed ciboriums away from the priest; Catholics, welcome to your new Mass.

On Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Detroit gave the green light for churches to resume public Mass, nearly two months since the last public sermon was given. It's one of the first examples of non-business rules being relaxed in Michigan since COVID-19 broke out in the state.

"For us priests, we're ordained to serve the people of God, and being separated from them is difficult for us so there's a lot of excitement," said Father Mario Amore at the St. Aloysius Parish in Detroit.

While there have been cases of churches reopening in other states in defiance of their governor's orders to remain closed, faith leaders have largely stuck to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders to restrict large gatherings of people and maintain social distancing.

But with the pandemic's spread slowing in Michigan and low daily death totals reported in the last two days, the Catholic Church in Detroit is orchestrating a soft opening on May 19. All archdiocesan parishes will resume public Mass on May 29.

In preparation for the big event, the church released guidelines for how parishioners should act when they return to mass. In a video shared online, Fr. Steve Pullis, who directs evangelization, catechesis, and Schools for the archdiocese, showed patrons what they can expect:

  • When people enter the church, they'll be asked to wear a facemask - except those under 2 years old. If the clergy are greeting those attending mass, they'll also be wearing a facemask and be standing six feet apart. No physical touching will be permitted.
  • When patrons sit down, they'll find some pews blocked off. For families attending together, they won't need to practice social distancing and are asked to sit together to make as much space for other patrons.
  • Instead of passing a collection plate, patrons will make offerings to a basket or container that's placed in one specific area
  • Communion will also look different, with hosts being placed in ciboriums away from the priest as he says the Eucharist prayer. The priest will wash and sanitize his hands, careful not to touch anyone else's when he distributes communion. Communion can not be given or received wearing gloves. When people receive communion, they'll maintain social distancing rules