Re-opening For Public Masses

TO: Priests in the Archdiocese 
FROM: Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone,Archbishop of San Francisco 
DATE: June 14, 2021 
RE: Reopening for public Masses, part 13 

As the state of California is now lifting most coronavirus restrictions, thanks to the decreasing rate of infections, it is now time for us to do the same with our safety protocols for Mass. As public health officials remind us, however, the pandemic is not yet completely over. We must continue to be vigilant and responsible in ensuring maximum health and safety of our parish communities. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, I am issuing the following modifications to the safety protocols currently in effect.

The following modifications are outlined according to what is to be retained, what is to be dropped, what may be restored, and what is to be modified. Most significantly, it is now time to bring our people back to Mass. Therefore, the dispensation for the Sunday obligation will be rescinded on June 24, 2021. That is, the dispensation for attending Sunday Mass will be dropped, and the Sunday Mass obligation restored. I ask that you take this weekend to announce this to your people and prepare for their return to Mass. All of the other modifications listed below are effective immediately.

To be Retained 

  • Doors and windows are to stay open to ensure maximum ventilation. 
  • Congregants are to wear masks during Mass indoors (unless they have a physical or personal difficulty with it). 
  • Churches should continue to maintain visible signage encouraging social distancing and washing of hands and maintaining hygienic protocols. 
  • Hand sanitizers are to be readily available. 
  • Missal to be placed on a stand at the presider’s chair. 
  • No procession with the offerings to the altar. 
  • Location of vessels on the altar according to the current protocols. 
  • Sign of Peace to be exchanged by the people reverently bowing to those near them. 
  • The current procedure for the distribution of Communion is to continue (don mask, sanitize hands, sanitize again if make contact). 
  • Distribution of Communion under the species of bread only. 

To be Dropped 

  • *Dispensation from Sunday obligation (NB: this does not apply to those persons restricted from coming to Mass for health reasons, as indicated above). 
  • Contact information lists and consent forms, as well as taking of temperatures. 
  • Sanitizing pews and other-high touch areas before services. 
  • Wearing of masks for outdoor services. 
  • Washing of purified vessels with hot water and soap after Mass. 

To be Restored (NB: all but the first are at the discretion of the pastor) 

  • Obligation to attend Sunday Mass.  It is important to remind your people that anyone who feels sick is dispensed from attending Mass by canon law itself; indeed, they are exercising responsibility toward their fellow parishioners by staying at home, so as not to risk contagion that can cause others to become ill. Likewise, those who fear they may be seriously adversely affected by infection are also dispensed by canon law itself.

The following … [lists] the modifications to the safety protocols now in effect for our Archdiocese.

  • Use of missalettes, hymnals, cards, worship aids. 
  • Holy water in stoups at entrances to the church. These should be regularly cleaned and maintained. 
  • The resumption of pre-Covid 19 Mass schedule in parishes. 
  • Collections may be taken up by ushers using baskets with handles or passing baskets person-to-person in the pews. 
  • Use of credence table at side of the sanctuary, with offerings being brought to the altar by the altar servers and the priest washing his hands in the usual way. 

To be Modified:

  • Social distancing reduced to three feet between households. 
  • Small choirs allowed with members wearing masks and keeping a minimum of twelve feet apart from each other. 
  • Congregational singing (presuming that, when indoors, the people are wearing masks). 
  • Liturgical ministers do not wear masks while carrying out their liturgical ministry (including cantor at the ambo, provided the closest person is at least twenty feet away). 
  • Concelebrating priests do not wear masks unless they cannot remain a minimum of six feet apart from each other. 



*Effective June 24, 2021