Boston Archdiocese mask mandate takes effect

BOSTON — People attending masses at any church in the Boston Archdiocese are now required to wear a mask.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley announced the mandate earlier this month in light of spiking COVID-19 numbers and anticipating full churches during the holiday season.

Masks are now required at all masses, including weddings and funeral services. Masks are required for all parishioners except children under the age of five. The church said anyone under the age of two should not wear a mask.

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Churches are encouraged to have masks available for anyone who forgets to bring their own. They are also encouraged to continue providing a designated social-distancing area for any parishioner interested in using it.

Mass celebrants, deacons, readers, choir members, altar servers, and anyone else who participates in the mass is required to wear a mask except when they are speaking.

“It’s more to make other people feel comfortable,” said Thomas Sullivan of Watertown. “I’m comfortable going in without my mask.”

Parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena in Norwood think some people will support the mask mandate, while others may be dissuaded from coming to church because of it.

“I got all my shots, so I don’t worry about it,” said Alfred Grover of Norwood. “I think it’s going to annoy some people. They probably won’t come because some people won’t.”

Many hope the new mandate won’t impact attendance numbers.

“I’d be disappointed if people wouldn’t come to church because they’re upset because they have to wear a mask,” said Sullivan. “I mean, you’re here to say your prayers and ask for God’s help.”

The mask mandate is set to expire on Jan. 17.

“With the recognition of recent increases of COVID-19, we believe this policy will provide an important and enhanced level of safety during the upcoming Christmas season Masses,” O’Malley said in a statement. “We continue to encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated. With care and concern for our parishioners and the wider community, we hold it important to make extra efforts to limit the exposure and transmission of this deadly virus.”

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