The Boston Archdiocese is reinstating the obligation of the faithful to attend Mass beginning the weekend of June 19 and 20, citing the improved situation around the COVID-19 pandemic that’s kept houses of worship largely shuttered or with capacity limits for more than a year.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley announced the change in a letter to parishioners dated Tuesday and released to the press Wednesday.
O’Malley wrote that because Sunday Mass is “increasingly available and increasingly safe for our Catholic people, we are joining dioceses in the Boston Province ... in lifting the dispensation of the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation, effective the weekend of June 19 and 20, 2021.”
He said the archdiocese felt Father’s Day weekend was a good time to make the shift.
“In this year of Saint Joseph, who was always a faithful observer of the sabbath, we chose Father’s Day as an appropriate day to encourage all of our people, and especially our families, to return to the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist,” O’Malley wrote.
He also said the obligation for Mass attendance doesn’t apply to parishioners who are are ill or who’ve been recently exposed to COVID or any other communicable illness. Parishioners confined to their homes, hospitals, or other facilities and those who aren’t yet able to get vaccinated due to age or any health consideration are also exempt, O’Malley said.
“It has been a long, difficult year,” O’Malley wrote. “People have experienced great pain and suffering throughout this pandemic. Loss of life has been immense. People continue to recover from the long-term effects of the coronavirus.”
He also praised frontline workers.
“The heroes among us — our nurses, doctors, first responders and all medical professionals — were a source of enormous comfort. Priests brought the Sacrament of the Sick to COVID patients,” O’Malley wrote. “Now we are able to join together, remembering the lives changed and the sacrifices made. Let us gather together again in joy, as one people united around the Eucharist.”