Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
This story out of Minnesota suggests the practice is far from uniform:
Mask-wearing is something Astrid Liden says she feels “extremely” passionate about.
A cantor at St. Therese in the Minneapolis suburb of Deephaven, she’s been intimately familiar with her parish’s plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, even before it reopened for public Masses.
The 19-year-old sang for livestreamed Masses, and now she’s leading music for the socially distanced, in-person Masses. Liden takes off her mask only to sing, she explained. And she struggles to understand why others don’t take mask-wearing as seriously as she does.
“There’s no reason for you not to wear one,” she said, noting that her parish offers free masks at the entrance. “It kind of hurts me to see people walk by the masks table without a mask. It’s just kind of a slap in the face.”
Public health officials have recommended that people wear masks inside enclosed spaces, such as a store or church, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has mandated mask use in many indoor spaces, and Gov. Tim Walz said he is considering new mask measures in Minnesota.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ COVID-19-related recommendations to parishes strongly encourage Mass participants to use social distancing and wear masks during the in-person liturgies that resumed in May, following a two-month suspension.
In practice, mask-wearing varies dramatically in parishes across the archdiocese, with some Catholics reporting it’s a requirement at their parish, and others saying few people wear masks at their parish church.
In that way, mask-wearing at church has paralleled public mask use in general, which has seen variance across the state and country.
A June Pew Research Center survey found that about two-thirds of U.S. adults say they wear a mask most of the time, but fewer than half reported that most people in their area wear masks most of the time.
Meanwhile, some see mask use — or not — as a partisan issue or a political statement, with political conservatives less likely to mask than political liberals.
At my parish, people are required to wear a mask to be admitted for Mass, which is being held in the school hall while the church undergoes some long-planned renovations.
People have been very cooperative. Below, a snapshot from last Sunday’s 9 a.m. liturgy as it was about to begin.
The deacon was doing his part. I take off the mask when assisting at Mass, but put it on for giving out Holy Communion, when I have close contact with people. (For those who have asked: the mask, a gift from my sister, shows part of the flag of my home state, Maryland.)