“I understand how much our parishioners want to return to their churches, see their priests, and once again have a personal connection with the sacraments. However, there are steps we need to take to ensure that we can do this safely,” Bishop Stika said. “I realize that some businesses and churches may open their doors sooner, but we have 51 parishes and mission churches in our diocese, which covers all of East Tennessee. I feel it is necessary to carefully review the state, county, and municipal guidelines that have been issued, some as recently as this week. It is my hope that by the solemnity of Pentecost, which we celebrate as the day the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles, and the day our Church began, we can, in some fashion, return to public Masses in our diocese.”
Bishop Stika is working with diocesan pastors, priests, and health-care experts to consider ways to implement the safety guidelines and mandates recently issued by public-health authorities.
“We will need to be in compliance with these guidelines,” Bishop Stika said. “We will use the next few weeks to make sure we’re doing things properly, and I know that all of our priests join me in looking forward to celebrating the Mass with our parish families once again.”