Diocese of Joliet

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COVID-19 Diocese of Joliet Re-Opening

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Date/Subject Information
May 14, 2021 Updated Guidance Regarding Masks following CDC Updates
May 12, 2021

Updated COVID-19 Guidelines during Illinois "bridge phase".

March 2, 2021

E-mail to priests, deacons and business managers regarding continued enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines. (May include minor updates to previous guidelines.)

January 14, 2021

Lent and Holy Week Guidelines for 2021

*Please note that these guidelines are subject to change based on any changes that occur regarding the coronavirus situation, including any changes to local or state mandates or recommendations.

November 19, 2020

The following comments/clarifications are made in light of the November 17 statewide order from Governor Pritzker.

Masses and Sacraments

  • Masses and sacramental celebrations remain with the attendance limits a parish received at certification during the reopening efforts – this includes wedding and funeral Masses within the church.
  • However, for wakes and funeral vigils, please note that clergy and bereavement ministers do not need to attend/minister if there are concerns that attendance might exceed the statewide limit of 10 persons.
  • Regarding final committals:
    • Any graveside final committal must observe the limitations on attendance of 10 persons, physically distanced and wearing facial coverings at the gravesite. Others may participate from their vehicles.
    • Any final committal conducted within a cemetery chapel must observe the limit of no more than 25% of the room’s capacity. All attendees must maintain six feet of physical distance and use facial coverings.

Operations and administration

  • Pastors and parish team leaders are encouraged to think critically about options to meet virtually rather than in person at all opportunities.
  • All gatherings except for in-person instruction and for religious services must observe the current statewide limit of 10 people. 

We are confident that our protocols continue to work in safeguarding the health of clergy, staff and parishioners, while mitigating any spread of infection in our churches. And as long as we follow these precautions carefully and without fail, we can continue to provide the people of God access to the sacraments and the comfort of the Church without risking endangerment to physical health.

However, given the increase in infection rates we all must remain incredibly diligent in the observance of all health and safety guidelines, including physical distancing, hand sanitizing, face coverings, use of attendance registration, and Holy Communion protocols. Please continue to follow all diocesan guidance – there can be no exceptions.

Our environment is undoubtedly going to remain challenging for the next several weeks. The situation remains very fluid and additional action at all civic levels is possible. The Re-opening Team continues to monitor and evaluate our plans on an ongoing basis and, as quickly as possible, will communicate changes to our guidelines.

November 19, 2020

With the approaching Holy Days, at the direction of Bishop Hicks, we are issuing the following revised guidelines in response to continuing questions about music at liturgies:

Remember that safety is still the key part of our reopening plans.

  • Parishes may have up to 4 total music people (singers and instrumentalists).
  • Singers must have 12’ distance between them and any others at the service.
  • Instrumentalists (no wind or brass) must have 6’ distance between them and others. Face masks are required.
  • No songs that the parishioners might sing are to be selected.
  • Parishes are still encouraged to use pre-recorded music.

In-person Lessons and Carols using choirs are prohibited this year.

November 13, 2020

Note from Buildings & Properties Director, Chris Nye

Here is the text of Tier 2 restrictions directly from the State of Illinois web page that was released week of 11/9/2020.

“Meetings, social events and gatherings (including weddings, funerals, potlucks, etc.)

  • Limit to 10 guests in both indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Applicable to professional, religious, cultural and social group gatherings.
  • Not applicable to students participating in-person classroom learning, sports or polling places.
  • This does not reduce the overall facility capacity dictated by general business guidance such as office, retail, etc.
  • No party buses.
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00pm, are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable.”

This is how the restrictions relate to our facilities:

  1. In-person learning is not restricted at this time. Schools or learning groups such as Religious Education, Youth Ministry and Bible Study continue under the existing plan with masks required and 6 foot clearance edge to edge between individuals. DO NOT try to skirt this restriction by saying all meetings are for learning. We are working with the state to keep everyone safe, not trying to bend the rules.
  2. The dioceses in the state are still working under the approved reopening guidelines for Masses using 6 foot social distancing. Nothing changes for Masses or other sacramental/religious liturgies at this time.
  3. A funeral or wedding in the church would use the capacity of a mass.
    1. Note a wake prayer services service at a funeral home would be restricted to 10 people.
    2. Priests and Deacons are not required to attend especially if they think the number of people in the funeral home will exceed 10 people. 
  4. Baptisms, Adoration, and any other religious services in the church use the same capacity as for masses with 6 foot clear social distancing between households.
  5. Remember the following critical points to all events:
    1. 6ft clear edge to edge Social Distancing for all activities.
    2. Sanitize restrooms after each person uses.
    3. Maintain good ventilation.
    4. Contact information is required for each gathering.
    5. Face mask required at all times.

Beyond activities the diocese has certified it is up to the Pastor to decide what events are acceptable/permitted to take place on the parish grounds. This should be done in consultation with key COVID leadership and must comply with state COVID regulations.

The recent rise of COVID cases highlights the need for a clear efficient procedure to coordinate the reporting, documenting and communicating the occurrences to all stakeholders in a timely manner. The Diocese has already provided a form to be used when employees test positive. In addition to employee reporting it is crucial that all incidents are in some way captured and reported and the information distributed to the diocese as well as all stakeholders in the parish community.

Diocese – centralized reporting process to document and monitor cases and to inform global decision making.

Parish Centralized Reporting Process, it is critical to keep all stakeholders informed to the best of our ability to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Parish Reopening Team Leader (cases at Mass)
  • Director of Religious Education
  • Director of Youth Ministry
  • Catholic School Principal



Under CDC guidelines close contact means:

  • Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient isolated
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
  • Anyone who meets the close contact guideline must self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of a negative test result within the 14 day period.
November 10, 2020

Reminder and clarification from the re-opening team:

Governor Pritzker's most recent communications note that several areas in the Diocese of Joliet will soon subject to "Tier 2" restrictions of the Restore Illinois plan.  Those restrictions can be found at the IDPH website and are subject to change.  Notably, those restrictions reduce meeting and gathering sizes down to 10 persons or less.

We also wish to re-state the following:

  1. The Diocese of Joliet will not regularly issue notifications in response to a change in the State's mandates.  The diocese covers four different regions, which are often subject to different rules, and we cannot guarantee that our website will feature the most recent information.  Know your region, and then determine which set of restrictions applies, and follow the law.

  2. The "Restore Illinois" tiered system does not apply to religious services so long as those services are held in accordance with the bishops' plan put forward back in May, and the parish operates according to the plan submitted to and approved by the re-opening team. Updates to the list of approved spaces can be found here.
    (Note: Capacity limits in our worship spaces are NOT a fixed number. They depend on the size of the space, the seating arrangements, the number of volunteers available, traffic flow, household sizes, etc. and are based on ability to maintain social distancing.)

  3. In-person learning (schools and RE) are operating according to a different set of guidelines, outside the tiered system as well. As of this writing, our schools remain open and are working diligently to follow the IDPH guidelines
October 29, 2020

Holiday and Holy Day Guidelines for 2020

*Please note that these guidelines are subject to change based on any changes that occur regarding the coronavirus situation, including any changes to local or state mandates or recommendations.

**The above guidelines include a change to music ministry, allowing up to three (3) cantors based on following certain protocols.

October 7, 2020

Policy change for personnel and buliding offices. Parish pastors and business managers notified by e-mail from the Buildings & Properties office:

"After review of scientific studies and in consultation with other diocese, parishes are no longer required to take temperatures of those coming to mass or work. The temperatures taken by themselves have a low efficacy. A parish may opt to continue this procedure if they wish, but it is not required.

NOTE: Schools are still required by the state to follow this protocol."

September 21, 2020

Memo from Bishop Pates regarding the reception of Holy Communion on the Tongue, at the discretion of the pastor and under strict guidelines.

August 28, 2020

A letter from Bishop Pates regarding a change to gathering limitations in Will and Kankakee counties, and other notes regarding holding meetings and events.

  • Reminder: Bishop Pates' June 24 letter addresses what to do in the event that someone reports a positive test.
August 28, 2018

Letter from Bishop Pates to Priests and Youth Formation leaders regarding the reopening of Youth Formation programs this Fall.

Audio Messages from Bishop Pates:

Message to Parents Announcing the Reopening of Youth Formation Programs and Ministries



Message for Parishes to Use to Help Recruit Adult Catechists and Volunteers



August 27, 2020 Letter from Bishop Pates to parish music directors and choir directors regarding liturgical music during the re-opening process. 
August 14, 2020 Message from Bishop Pates - Catholic Schools Opening Next Week
August 12, 2020 Update letter to pastors and youth formation leaders on the re-opening of programs and ministries in youth formation. (Attachment: Youth Formation Reopening Plan Form)
July 30, 2020

Letter from Bishop Pates to school pastors and principals/presidents of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Joliet regarding the re-opening of our schools - a clarification on information provided by the Catholic Schools Office prior to July 1, 2020

July 22, 2020 Letter from Bishop Pates to school pastors and principals/presidents of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Joliet - an update on school re-opening process.

July 16, 2020

Letter from Bishop Pates to priests, deacons, lay ministers regarding the celebration of Confirmation

July 6, 2020

Coronavirus update letter regarding a confirmed case at a diocesan parish, and reaffirming procedures to minimize risk at our offices.

July 1, 2020 Coronavirus update letter addressing reopening plan conformance; event attendance records; sanitizing requirements
June 30, 2020

Coronavirus update letter addressing various issues with re-opening, including contact tracing, homebound care and guidance for gatherings.

June 29, 2020
Regarding Youth Formation Programs

E-mail to Priests, Deacons, Diocesan Staff and Youth Formation Leaders from Bishop Pates

June 24, 2020

Coronavirus Update Letter from Bishop Pates, addressing:

  • Effects of Phase 4 of "Restore Illinois" Plan
  • Contact Tracing
  • Various and Sundry Issues for Ministers
June 23, 2020 Letter to Priests regarding the re-opening of Religious Ed and Youth Ministry Programs  
June 16, 2020 Announcement - Schools to Reopen in Fall 2020

June 9, 2020 Bishop Pates' Coronavirus Update to priests, deacons and volunteers, June 9, 2020
June 1, 2020 Bishop Pates' Coronavirus Update to priests, deacons and business managers, June 1, 2020
May 29, 2020 Memo from Bishop Pates regarding the new guidance issued by the State of Illinois.

May 27, 2020

Second follow up memo to priests and deacons - May 27, 2020

May 20, 2020

Follow up memo to priests and deacons - May 20, 2020

May 18, 2020

Phased Re-opening Detailed Plan

Diocese of Joliet detailed plan for parishes to re-open