Bishop William Joensen. (Diocese photo)

The Bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese is easing restrictions again on in-person worship.

Bishop William Joensen instituted a phased-in approach where some parishes could begin weekday public celebration of Mass at the discretion of their pastors with proper precautions implemented. Fifteen parishes in rural counties began in phase 1 and others were added. Those parishes are now moving to phase two — which includes weekend masses.

He says the obligation to attend Sunday masses will remain suspended for now — even though they may be available. Those who are vulnerable are encouraged to remain at home and watch the celebration of Mass online.

The first group of counties included, Wayne, Lucas, Clarke, Decatur, Madison, Union, Ringgold, Adair, Adams, Taylor, Cass, Montgomery, Page, Fremont, and Harrison Counties. Mills County entered phase 1 shortly after those counties.

Parishes in Shelby Audubon and Guthrie Counties, which begin phase 1 on June 2, can move to Phase 2 celebration of Sunday Masses the weekend of June 13-14 at the pastors’ discretion. Beginning June 9, parishes in Pottawattamie County can enter Phase 1. Assuming no spike in COVID-19 cases, this group can move into Phase 2 celebration of weekend Masses June 20-21.

Parishes in Dallas, Polk and Warren Counties can enter Phase 1 as early as June 11, though pastors may choose to wait until a later date. When the bishop gives his permission, those parishes can move to Phase 2, possibly as soon as June 27-28.