September 14, 2020



Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Today, as a people of faith, we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation  of the Holy  Cross.  The very name of this Feast should cause  us to take pause  as we  are once again confronted  with God’s  ways  which are so often so far from our ways. Today we rejoice in the fact that God has taken one of the most hideous forms of torture the human mind has ever devised and  has turned  it into the greatest  sign of hope the world can ever know. In the midst of this year of COVID-19, the Holy Cross has stood as a beacon of hope and a constant reminder that no matter how quarantined,  hopeless, or out of  control our  lives seem, to be we are never alone. The Risen Christ is ever with us and we are always walking in the light of our God’s promise of salvation. I pray once again that each of you might know in a real and special  way the love, mercy, hope, and joy of the barren cross and the empty tomb.

These past months many of us have had crosses to bear that we could not have imagined before COVID- 19 became an all too familiar word. One of the heaviest for me was having to close our parish churches to public worship and the celebration of the Eucharist. Over a period of days, all five of the Bishops of the State of Wisconsin issued dispensations from the Sunday Obligation to attend Mass, for all Catholics in our respective Diocese. On June 3,2020, what a joy it was to inform you that those parishes which were ready to, would begin to, once again, join in community to publicly celebrate the Holy Mass. The dispensation from the Obligation of Sunday Mass attendance was still in force.

Over the past two months or so, the bishops of Wisconsin have had several conversations where we discussed ending the dispensation. On August 31, 2020, it was announced via the Wisconsin Catholic Conference that the five Dioceses of the State of Wisconsin would be ending the dispensation during the month of September. Although it may not be possible or prudent for some to attend the public celebration of the Mass, thanks be to God, there no longer seems to be a reason that rises to the seriousness of a general dispensation for all the faithful.

Therefore, with this letter, I am revoking the dispensation which excused all the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation effective the weekend of September 26 and 27. As I stated above, the ending of this dispensation does not necessarily mean you as an individual do not have just cause for not attending Mass without incurring serious sin.

Our Catholic Faith teaches us that the obligation to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation is paramount to who we are. I pray as you read the word “obligation” that it is not being read as a heavy burden of some kind being imposed on you, but rather as your true love response to the total, pure love our God has for each one ofus. The Second Vatican Council so clearly teaches us that; full and active participation in the Mass is the primary and indispensable source and summit of the Christian life. Most recently, Pope Francis in his homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (June 14, 2020) stated, ”We cannot do without the Eucharist because it is God’s memorial. And it heals our wounded memory.” Who among us is not in the need of God’s healing of body, mind, and spirit in our lives?

As I stated above, even though the general dispensation has been lifted, it does not necessarily mean you have to attend Mass or incur serious sin. There are many health issues and life circumstances which could exempt you. However, if you are simply afraid to go to Mass for fear of catching COVID-19, you may have to ask yourself, “is this a rational fear?” With the practice of social distancing, the great job of sanitizing our parishes are doing, the use of facemasks, hand sanitizer, and our guidelines for the celebration of Mass during these times, I do not think there is any more risk of your contracting COVID- 19 at church than if you were in a store, at work, or in any other public setting.

Some of you who are still dispensed from Mass would be anyone:

  • who has tested positive for COVID-19, or come in contact with someone who has tested positive in the past 14 days,
  • is running a fever,
  • has a cough or who has COVID/flu like symptoms.
  • who is in the ‘at risk’ category due to:
    • age 60 or older,
    • compromised immune system,
    • diabetes,
    • serious heart conditions,
    • or if you believe attending Mass would pose an undue risk to other family members such as elderly parents you are caring for is dispensed.
  • who tried to attend Mass but was turned away due to lack of room because of the limitation placed due to social distancing would be dispensed even if they could attend another Mass without extreme difficulty.

For any member of the faithful who in good conscience is uncertain about a just cause, I encourage you to contact your parish priest who can dispense you or even give you some other pious work.

Anyone who does not attend Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, is urged to keep holy the Lord’s Day by watching Mass on TV or live stream, reading Scripture, and through private prayer such as the rosary or Stations of the Cross.

For all who will be attending Mass, please continue to abide by the precautions which have been put into place. Even if you do not feel you need them for your own personal health, be assured that your charitable observance will help others to attend without fear. Please also, let us do what we can to keep our good and faithful priests healthy and safe as they minister to the needs of all.

Once again, I want to thank you for your patience and understanding during this very difficult time. May the Lord God watch over, guide, guard, bless, and protect you and your loved ones.

Most Rev. James Powers, Bishop, Diocese of Superior

September 14, 2020



Aquí hay algunos extractos de la carta de Bishop:

Estos últimos meses, muchos de nosotros hemos tenido cruces que soportar que no podríamos haber imaginado antes de que COVID- 19 se convirtiera en una palabra demasiado familiar.  Una de las más pesadas para mí fue tener que cerrar nuestras iglesias parroquiales al culto público y a la celebración de la Eucaristía.  Durante un período de días, los cinco obispos del estado de Wisconsin emitieron dispensas de la Obligación Dominical de asistir a la Misa, para todos los católicos de nuestra respectiva Diócesis.  El 3 de junio de 2020, qué alegría fue informar a ustedes de que aquellas parroquias que estaban dispuestas a, comenzarían, una vez más, a unirse a la comunidad para celebrar públicamente la Santa Misa.  La dispensa de la obligación de la asistencia a la Misa Dominical seguía en vigor.

En los últimos dos meses más o menos, los obispos de Wisconsin han tenido varias conversaciones en las que discutimos poner fin a la dispensación.  El 31 de agosto de 2020, se anunció a través de la Conferencia Católica de Wisconsin que las cinco diócesis del estado de Wisconsin pondrían fin a la dispensa durante el mes de septiembre.  Aunque no sea posible ni prudente que algunos asistan a la celebración pública de la Misa, gracias a Dios, ya no parece haber una razón que se eleva a la seriedad de una dispensación general para todos los fieles.

Por lo tanto, con esta carta, revoco la dispensa que eximió a todos los fieles de la obligación de asistir a la Misa el domingo y a los Días Santos de Obligación a partir del fin de semana del 26 y 27 de septiembre.  Como dije anteriormente, el final de esta dispensación no significa necesariamente que usted como individuo no tenga justa causa para no asistir a la Misa sin incurrir en pecado grave.

Más recientemente, el Papa Francisco, en su homilía sobre la solemnidad del Santísimo Cuerpo y La Sangre de Cristo (14 de junio de 2020), declaró: “No podemos prescindir de la Eucaristía porque es el memorial de Dios.  Y cura nuestra memoria herida”.  ¿Quién de nosotros no está en la necesidad de la sanación de Dios del cuerpo, la mente y el espíritu en nuestra vida?

Como dije anteriormente, aunque la dispensación general haya sido levantada, no significa necesariamente que tengan ustedes que asistir a la Misa o incurrir en pecado grave.  Hay muchos problemas de salud y circunstancias de la vida que podrían eximirlo.

Algunos de ustedes que todavía están dispensados de misa serían cualquiera:

  • persona que haya dado positivo en COVID-19, o que haya estado en contacto con alguien que ha dado positivo en los últimos 14 días,
  • está teniendo fiebre,
  • tiene tos o que tiene COVID/síntomas como la gripe
  • que está en la categoría de “riesgo” debido a:
    • edad 60 o más,
    • sistema inmunológico comprometido,
    • diabetes,
  • enfermedades cardíacas graves,o si usted cree que asistir a la Misa plantearía un riesgo indebido para otros miembros de la familia, como los padres ancianos que usted está cuidando se dispensa.

que intentara asistir a Misa pero fuera rechazado debido a la falta de espacio debido a la limitación impuesta debido al distanciamiento social sería dispensado incluso si pudiera asistir a otra Misa sin dificultad extrema.

Para cualquier miembro de los fieles que en buena conciencia no está seguro de una causa justa, os animo a poneros en contacto con vuestro párroco que puede dispensar usted o incluso dar a usted algún otro trabajo piadoso.

Most Rev. James Powers, Bishop, Diocese of Superior