MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – As COVID-19 case numbers drop, vaccination rates rise, and mitigation efforts are eased, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette is adjusting as well. Bishop John Francis Doerfler is reinstating the obligation of Catholics to come to Mass in person.
We spoke with Father Ryan Ford, pastor of St. John and St. Joseph Parishes in Ishpeming. He said whether on Saturday Evening or Sunday mornings, Catholics are required to attend Mass. The exception is for those who are sick, showing signs of sickness, or otherwise homebound.
“We really draw our life from the Eucharist,” said Fr. Ford. “We believe it’s the representation of the sacrifice of Jesus. We join ourselves to it every Mass. So we draw our life from the Eucharist to go and sacrifice our lives as brothers and sisters, week by week and day by day.”
Father Ford said they have upgraded technology and added a service to give people the option to spread out in the building and feel comfortable attending a worship service in person.
“Like any group, it’s hard to stay connected with people or feel connection when you don’t gather together. It’s been more than a year now, so to be able to maintain those vital bonds of community, friendship, and involvement in one another’s lives. And to really be able to love one another as Christ has taught us, it’s really hard to do when you’re not gathering together,” said Fr. Ford.
People are being asked to spread out, and to be aware of people around you, and be mindful of comfort levels of people around you. Father Ford says pastors can also make accommodations if people still aren’t comfortable with coming on weekends to a week day mass or other spiritual work.
“Obviously we want to do it in a way that’s not just saying, everything’s over with the pandemic, we’ll still be aware of it. But just inviting people back and trying to be as comfortable as we can. When you think back to the early church and the martyrs who have given their lives to the Lord and the Eucharist and saying it’s a little inconvenient to have to do some precautions or to do some things as safely as we can, but at the same time we want to give our lives totally to the Lord enthusiastically, while at the same time being aware of the pandemic.”
For communion, they are following protocol similar to flu season.
Saturday Mass is 4:00 p.m. at St. John’s and 6:00 p.m. at St. Joseph’s. Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. at St. John’s and 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph’s. The additional service is Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. at St. John’s.