Governor revises key religious restriction; Catholic churches detail plans to begin mass

Catholic churches like St. Ann’s in Wilmington will be able to welcome limited numbers of worshipers on June 1. Photo TSD.

Delaware Catholics may worship again in church on June 1, the first time in-person gatherings will be allowed since March 15.

The Diocese of Wilmington announced their plans to begin daily and weekend masses, which include requiring attendees to maintain six feet of separation and wear masks in church. 


Gatherings must be also limited to 30 percent of stated fire code occupancy, per the order of Governor John Carney, and strict social distancing must be maintained.

The diocese also said people at high risk, including those over 65-years-old, and anyone who is sick should not attend in-person services. 

Communion will be administered by priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers, and each parish is developing their own protocols to do so safely, a diocese spokesperson said.


The diocese includes both Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland; masses may resume in Maryland with social-distancing guidelines in place beginning May 25.

“We are happy that we are able to open our churches to the faithful who hunger to once again receive the Sacraments,” said Bishop Francis Malooly. “However, the safest thing for people to do is to stay home and participate in the Mass via livestreaming. This is especially true for those who are older, have health issues, or are caregivers to vulnerable individuals.”

The diocese had been seeking clarification from Delaware Gov. John Carney, who issued revised guidance for churches and houses of worship. Previous restrictions including those on distribution of communion have been removed in the revised guidance documents provided by the governor’s office, said Msgr. Steven Hurley, vicar general for the diocese.

Msgr. Hurley said Bishop Malooly held an online Zoom meeting with pastors May 19 to explain regulations and precautions. He said the priests welcomed news of reopening.

“The pastors are so excited to get back to having public Masses,” Msgr. Hurley said.

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