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Nebraska dioceses to end pandemic dispensation from Sunday Mass obligation
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Nebraska dioceses to end pandemic dispensation from Sunday Mass obligation

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St. Patrick's pews

Bishop James Conley sprinkles holy water during the dedication of St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Aug. 15, 2015.

Nebraska churches have been adapting to social distancing regulations by having online services from buildings void of parishioners. 

Catholics in Nebraska will be obligated to go back to in-person Sunday Masses starting in May, the state's three dioceses announced Wednesday.

Diocese of Lincoln Bishop James Conley joined Omaha Archbishop George Lucas and Grand Island Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt in planning to end the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation on May 23. The dispensation was put in place last March due to the pandemic.

Conley said Catholics have a grave obligation to return to in-person Masses "because the Eucharist is at the heart of what it is to be a Christian."

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There are still some pandemic-related exceptions to the rule. They include:

* If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have good reason to believe that you may have contracted it.

* If you are ill or have a condition that would seriously compromise your health if you contracted COVID-19.

* If you care for the sick, homebound or infirm and have a compelling reason for believing that you would infect them by going to Mass.

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* If you have significant and grave fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass.

* If you are elderly or pregnant and have a serious reason to believe you would put yourself or your child at risk by attending Mass.

The dispensation was put in place in the Omaha and Lincoln dioceses last March by Lucas, who at the time was serving as the administrator in Lincoln while Conley was on medical leave. Conley returned to his role in November.

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Education reporter/Night content coordinator

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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