Updated June 4, 2020 - 4:31 pm
Southern Nevada’s Catholic churches are permitted to reopen for Masses this weekend, but not all of them necessarily will.
Bishop George Leo Thomas of the Diocese of Las Vegas this week lifted a suspension of public Masses that has been in effect since March. However, he is leaving it to parish pastors and administrators to decide whether their parishes are ready to reopen safely.
With the order, Catholic churches may joins a number of area houses of worship that reopened last weekend under Phase Two of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s plan, which permits public worship services but limits attandance to 50 with social distancing.
Thomas’ permission to again celebrate Sunday and weekday Masses takes effect Saturday.
However, in the direcctive, Thomas writes that his dispensation from area Catholics’ obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect. He encourages parishes to continue to livestream Sunday and daily Masses for at-risk Catholics and others who don’t yet feel comfortable attending in person.
“While we recognize that many are eager to return to Mass as soon as possible, it is vitally important that the elderly or medically vulnerable give special consideration to the advisability of returning to public worship too soon,” he writes.
Each parish is required to submit a Mass plan to the diocese. Because attendance at Masses will be limited to 50 — that includes priests, celebrants and staff — Thomas recommends adopting a reservation system.
Attendeees older than 10 will be required to wear face masks and worshippers will undergo a “temperature checking process,” Thomas writes.
Crying rooms and choir lofts will be closed, and social distancing may require the use of only every second or third pew. Holy water fonts will be empty, shared missals won’t be used, there will be no sign of peace, and Communion will be administered only in the form of the host.
Several houses of worship in the valley resumed public services last weekend. Among them were the International Church of Las Vegas, Liberty Baptist Church, Good Samaritan Lutheran Church, Masjid Ibrahim and Chabad of Southern Nevada.
Scheduled to resume public worship this weekend is New Song Church in Henderson. “We’re ready to go,” said the Rev. Paul Block, lead pastor.
One Saturday evening service and two Sunday morning services are scheduled. “But I have no idea what to expect,” Block said. “We know we have to be flexible and just adapt from week to week.”
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints previously had announced a phased plan for resuming live services. However, Joyce Haldeman, the church’s Southern Nevada spkeswoman, said no date has been set for in-person worship and gatherings to resume.