Governor John Bel Edwards recently announced that Louisiana would be allowed to move to Phase 3 of COVID-19 precautions.  The Governor indicated that, in Phase 3, reduced capacity limits for churches set for COVID-19 precautions are lifted. Capacity limits set by Fire Marshals remain in effect.  Under the new state guidelines, “Religious services will no longer have capacity limits, social distancing is strongly encouraged, and masking will still be required.”

This means that some parishes may no longer need to have pews blocked off or signs designating where parishioners may sit.  In an effort to protect vulnerable parishioners and/or to encourage social distancing among congregations that may not embrace that encouragement on their own, the pastor of a particular church may determine that blocked off or designated pews may still be advisable.  However, while church capacity limits are lifted, the governor also stated that social distancing in places of worship is encouraged.

While capacity limits have been increased, all in the Diocese of Alexandria are asked to honor the safety and comfort of those around us, and practice social distancing by spreading out in our churches to the extent possible.

In Phase 3, masks are still required statewide.  Therefore, masks will continue to be required for attendance at Mass.  Pastors should have masks available for those who have come to Mass unprepared.

Governor Edwards noted that the past several weeks have been full of hopeful milestones, and for that, we are grateful.  These milestones include the fact that the state has administered over one million doses of the COVID vaccines.  While we celebrate these blessings, each one of us must remain vigilant, and continue to follow the suggested precautions.

Thank you for your faith.   Thank you for those who come together in community to worship Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Mass, and to receive His True Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.  Thank you to those as well, who participate in televised Masses, or Masses online.

All are reminded that the obligation to attend Mass remains dispensed for all Catholics in the Diocese of Alexandria.  If you are not yet comfortable returning to in-person Mass, you can make a Spiritual Communion while watching a televised or live-streamed Mass individually or as a family. You might also consider reciting the rosary, reading scripture, or participating in other devotions.  Individuals of all ages with underlying medical issues should adhere to all CDC guidelines.

We pray that as we enter in to the Easter season, there will be continued improvement in our state, and in our local area’s COVID numbers, and the subsequent relaxing of other requirements.  Together, let us offer the Lord thanks!