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Archdiocese of Milwaukee makes 'difficult decision' to delay public mass at south side parishes

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- For many catholic churches around Milwaukee, public mass will return starting on May 31, but the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is now directing parishes on the near south side to stay closed beyond that date.

Sixteen parishes on the near south side are delaying in-person mass until further notice. Officials with the Archdiocese said the decision is due to the high concentration and volume of COVID-19 cases in that part of the city.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki said he has concerns about the ability to control attendance and social distancing. He made the decision after a conversation Friday with Father Javier Bustos, vicar general for the Archdiocese.

"It was the difficult decision, but it was the right decision. Our priority is the safety of our people and that's what we need to do. And also we want to send a very clear and strong message: We want people to take care of themselves," Bustos said.

Bustos is also the pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. He said the decision to keep his and other parishes in the area closed serves as a reminder to his members to wear masks, keep social distancing and wash their hands.

The potential for each parish to reopen will be assessed on a week-by-week basis depending upon the spread of the virus in the surrounding communities.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese released its "Catholic Comeback" plan, which allows pastors to individually decide when it best for their parishes to reopen.

Bustos said, as of Saturday afternoon, 41 parishes in the area will not be opening up May 31, including the 16 on the near south side. 

Public masses at the following churches are delayed until further notice: 

  • Saint Anthony Parish
  • Saint Hyacinth Parish
  • Saint Adalbert Parish
  • Prince of Peace Parish
  • Saint Rafael the Archangel Parish
  • Saint Vincent de Paul Parish
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
  • Saint Patrick Parish
  • Saint Roman Parish
  • Congregation of the Holy Spirit Parish
  • Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish
  • Basilica of Saint Josaphat Parish
  • Saint Mary Magdalene Parish
  • Saint John Paul II Parish
  • Saint Stanislaus Parish
  • Saint Maximilian/SS Cyril & Methodius Kolbe Parish
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