Catholics urged to return to attending Mass in person June 6

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The Catholic bishop of the Las Cruces Diocese is asking the faithful to resume attending Mass in person starting on Sunday, June 6.

The new order from Bishop Peter Baldacchino and Chancellor Rev. Kevin Waymel was issued on May 25.

“At this time, due to the observance of public safety protocols, the increase in the availability of vaccines and the fact that 55 percent of those 16 and older in New Mexico have been fully vaccinated, our parishes and society at large have begun to return to some sense of normalcy,” they wrote in their order.

This comes after in-person Mass had been shut down or severely limited for more than a year and most Las Cruces Catholics had to rely on livestreams on their computers or phones to attend Mass.

Chris Velasquez, spokesman for the Diocese, said the decision to have the faithful return to in-person celebrations of Mass was a “prudent one done with a lot of thought.”

But Velasquez noted that there are exceptions to the general requirement that Catholics attend Mass regularly.

Anyone with a “serious reason” or “grave cause” is excused from the obligation. That includes: anyone who is sick, symptomatic or has been recently exposed to the coronavirus; anyone with a significant health risk that “requires them to avoid public spaces” or if they care for someone with significant health risks; and anyone who is hospitalized or otherwise can’t attend services through no fault of their own.

During the pandemic, the Diocese “strived to strike a balance” between public health and safety and ministering to the spiritual needs of Catholics, according to the bishop’s latest order.

Velasquez also said that the Diocese will continue to do livestreams of Mass and make those available to people who can’t attend service in person.

Anyone who has a question or is unsure about their personal situation is urged to talk to their parish pastor.