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Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca speaks during Palm Sunday Mass at the cathedral, March 28, 2021. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes Eastertide. In most liturgical churches, Palm Sunday is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches representing the palm branches which the crowd scattered in front of Christ, as he rode into Jerusalem.

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass due to COVID will be lifted on June 6 for Baton Rouge-area Catholics, Bishop Michael Duca announced in a letter to parishioners Monday. 

Church-goers will still be required to wear masks, Duca said in the letter, titled "Wear Your Mask and Return to Mass!"  

Click here to read Duca's full letter

"Because it is my desire to be able to invite more of our parishioners back to Mass and have a place for them as they return, I have decided that we will keep the mandate to wear masks and begin to lessen the physical distancing as more parishioners return to church," Duca wrote.

Duca said Catholics should continue to consider themselves exempt from the obligation to attend Mass if they are unvaccinated, have underlying conditions which make the virus more dangerous, or if "they are simply fearful."

The implementation of the new rules will vary from church to church, but most will open all pews to parishioners for the first time since churches closed in March 2020. 

Duca urged people to continue taking the virus seriously.

"To pretend that the danger is completely over could sabotage all the efforts and progress we have made up to this point," he wrote. "Yet with this caution acknowledged, I want to offer for the first time since this pandemic began a more proactive process to bring us all back together in our churches again."


Email Matthew Albright at MAlbright@theadvocate.com