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Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph launches campaign encouraging in-person services, ending general dispensation

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph launched its biggest campaign to encourage parishioners to return to in-person services across its 98 parishes. The “Come Home to Communion” campaign can be seen in handouts, social media, and on billboards across the KC metro. With elected leaders across the area lifting restrictions and guidelines, and COVID cases continuing to drop, Bishop James Johnston Jr. decided to lift the general dispensation issued last year.

“The numbers of infections and hospitalizations have gone down and so at this point I have determined that I am going to withdraw that general dispensation,” explained Bishop Johnston in a video message to the congregation.

The Director of Communications for the diocese, Ashlie Hand, says the diocese had to do something big and bold at a time when many parishioners have grown comfortable with online services.

“The ‘Come Home to Communion’ really has a dual meaning because if you have only been participating in the mass online, you have been missing out on what we call the real presence of Jesus,” said Hand, who emphasized the importance of the eucharist.

Megan Wyant is new to the Catholic church, but says she’s found peace in attending services in person. As restrictions have lifted, she’s noticed more parishioners return to church, but there continues to be a lot of empty space in the pews.

“A lot of people that are hesitant to come back or out of the routine and are still doing it online,” said Wyant.

Maria Kadookunnel and her daughter, Rosemary Cherian, are parishioners at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Cherian is a cantor at church and says she’s glad to have singing return to daily services; it was something the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraged during the height of the pandemic.

“It’s so important to have people come back and I think the billboards [as part of the campaign] are great because you’re driving down the highway down the road and you just see that and you might start thinking about it, plant the seed,” said Cherian.

A particular dispensation will remain in place for people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or whose doctor advised to avoid public gatherings.

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