by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Last year on March 14, 2020, as we began dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, I issued a dispensation for all Catholics within the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. For the next two months, Masses were celebrated without a congregation present, while many people participated in Sunday Mass by watching via livestream video broadcast and making a spiritual Communion. As people began returning to attending Mass in person last May, I said that the dispensation would remain in place for an indefinite period of time, even after we began the re-opening, until there would be greater clarity and confidence that the overall risk associated with the virus is diminished. That time has now come, as the COVID vaccine has been more widely administered and the number of cases has substantially diminished in recent weeks.