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Catholics can return to pews but Fort Worth and Dallas dioceses differ on conducting mass

Parishioners at churches in the Fort Worth Diocese will be allowed to attend mass in person, but the Dallas Diocese will only allow online masses.

The Catholic dioceses of Fort Worth and Dallas will see parishioners in their pews once again but will differ in how they're conducting mass during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parishioners at churches in the Fort Worth Diocese will be allowed to attend mass in person on starting Saturday, while the Dallas Diocese is limiting church building occupancy to 25% and masses will not take place. 

Churches in the Dallas Diocese will be open for confession and there are plans to resume masses at a later date. 

Fort Worth

The Diocese of Fort Worth announced they will begin public mass starting this Saturday, according to a letter from Bishop Michael Olson. Protocols in place include six-feet social distancing, limiting occupancy and requiring face coverings. The protocols will be reassessed in two weeks, Olson said.

Once each building reaches capacity, people will not be admitted and will be directed to another parish hall or to stream the service online in their vehicles, Olson said.

Parishioners will be escorted by an usher and be seated in pews with 6 feet of separation from others. The church provided a diagram here.

Credit: Fort Worth Catholic Diocese
The Fort Worth Catholic Diocese shared a diagram of how they plan to maintain social distancing during Mass starting May 1.

Parishioners are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside the church and will not be seated without one, Olson said. 

Those over the age of 60 are encouraged not to attend mass but can attend masses specified for people over 60.

People who are sick or exhibiting symptoms are asked to stay home.

Church buildings will be disinfected between masses.

Collection plates will not be passed around or handled by people. There will be no handshaking.

Holy Communion will be received by the hand, rather than traditionally by the tongue.

People who do not want to wear a mask or arrive at the church when capacity has been reached can stream services online and/or receive Holy Communion in designated areas outside.

People over 60 years old should not distribute Holy Communion.

These protocols are the same for weddings, funerals and baptisms.

Diocese of Dallas

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas, which serves 1.3 million Catholics to 77 churches in the nine counties, is planning to reopen through four phases. 

The first phase, in effect through May 18, includes resuming scheduled confessions, baptisms, confirmation and the eucharist with strict social guidelines. Masses will continue online only.

Churches will remain open during daytime hours for prayer. Capacity in a church building may not exceed 25% of the total capacity and requires 6-foot social distancing. Local orders for face coverings should be followed in church buildings.

Parishioners will sit in pews with 6-feet of social distancing and every other row will remain empty.

Religious celebrations, including weddings, ordinations funerals and quinceañeras, can continue in limited numbers. If a celebration or event cannot maintain the capacity and social distancing requirements, it may not take place, the diocese said.

For those celebrations that require Holy Communion, parishioners are free to forego the reception of Holy Communion.

Diocesan schools will remain closed, and e-learning is to continue until further notice.

The Pastoral Center is closed.

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