There are two important and timely updates that I want to make you aware of:
1) New limits on Mass Attendance from the Dane County Health Department
2) Mass Attendance Reservations are now necessary for this weekend
Dane County Health Department Restrictions
With great frustration I must inform you that the Dane County Health Department has reduced the number of people allowed at religious services to 50 people, less than the 25% capacity that our churches were previously permitted. By contrast, under the current Health Department Order, movie theaters and other businesses are currently permitted to have up to 25% occupancy of their building capacity. This change for religious entities was made after the Diocese of Madison had consulted with the Dane County Health Department and formulated the plan under the 25% capacity policy they had outlined. These changes were made without advance notice, and only 4 days after the Diocese moved forward with its plan for safely returning to public worship, which had been prepared in consultation with the Dane County Health Department.
We are, for the time being, going to comply with this unjust order, under grave protest. This change in rules not only constitutes an unfair and unequal treatment of all religious entities, but lacks any understandable rationale as to why churches, synagogues, or other religious buildings are substantially different from a movie theater or other 'essential operation'. Further, the Dane County Health Department has directly contacted the Diocese and assured them that government workers would be observing weekend Masses and fines would be issued for non-compliance with this new order.
I urge you, as a practicing Catholic, religious person, and citizen of the United States of America, to contact the following officials and let them know of your displeasure with their unfair treatment of religious groups. We are advocating for equal and reasonable treatment for all religious entities. I have included their contact information and a sample phone or email script below. Please be firm, but respectful.
PERSONS TO CONTACT:
Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive
Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison and Dane County
I was incredibly disappointed and upset to learn that Dane County is requiring a 50 person limit at all religious services. I am a practicing Catholic and the Diocese of Madison has been incredibly cooperative and respectful of the current matters of public health. There has been an incredible amount of work that has been put into getting the faithful back to church services in a safe manner at 25% capacity. The 25% capacity standard, which is extended to movie theaters and other private enterprises under the current order, should be equally applied to religious entities.
I believe you underestimate the goodwill of the public, and religious persons in particular. All religious entities of Dane County should be treated with the same reasonable capacity restrictions placed on other institutions under Phase 1 of its Forward Dane Plan. I would urge you to revise your restrictions immediately. Respectfully,
Due to these new procedures, we will be utilizing an online reservation system for returning to Masses. There are a maximum of 50 reservations per Mass. Unfortunately the timing of the County's order will not allow us to more effectively contact some of our elderly parishioners, and others who may not use email, the opportunity to call the parish office and make a reservation. If you know a parishioner who does not use email regularly, please contact them and make a reservation for them, if they would like to attend Mass. The link below will take you directly to the online reservation portal. After making your reservation, you will receive a confirmation email with tickets. It will not be necessary to present a ticket to attend Mass, and signs will be posted notifying those without tickets that the Mass is full. If you cannot reserve a place at one of our Masses, please consider attending Mass at a parish outside Dane County, as the 25% capacity policy is in effect for the rest of the Diocese.