Fr. Brian Lynch of Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church

Fr. Brian Lynch of Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church in Belle Plaine gave introductory remarks at a first communion celebration at the church last Sunday, May 17. Lynch is among the pastors in Belle Plaine adapting to gathering guidelines amid COVID-19.

As Minnesota approaches the two-month mark for dealing with coronavirus concerns, churches in Belle Plaine continue to roll with the punches as they attempt to reach their congregations remotely.

On May 18, as the governor's stay-at-home order expired, churches throughout the state continue to be bound to a 10-person maximum within their physical structures.

At Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church in Belle Plaine, this has meant that for landmark ceremonies like first communions, full families often cannot attend services.

This hasn't stopped families, like that of Kinley Graber, a first communion recipient, from signing up for personal services. As of Sunday, May17, Fr. Brian Lynch of OLP has conducted several services limited to 10 people, and moving forward, he hopes to welcome back familiar and new faces alike.

OLP, like other diocesan churches, gets its orders from the Archbishop's office in St. Paul. Lynch said that his orders are nearing phase two of three which will incrementally allow him and his parish to celebrate publicly. Phase two may allow churches to operate at 30% capacity, Lynch said.

Lynch added that his directives also discourage adults 65 and older from attending services, which is a prominent chunk of his and other parishes' attending populations. With that group potentially missing from future services, Lynch is uncertain about the degree to which his congregation might bounce back after COVID-19.

"My concern is that as people get out of the habit of going and form other habits, it's not clear to me at all that people can just get right back into it," Lynch said.  "It's a big concern that we won't have the same kind of attendance."

Lynch is not entirely pessimistic, however, and he noted that the current circumstances have offered his parish and others a unique opportunity to be able to welcome worshipers back.

"I think there's an enormous opportunity for Christmas to be reaching out to folks," Lynch said.

For now, churches like OLP, continue to offer online services for those at home with limited in-person ceremonies.

Links to remote area offerings are found below.  

Our Lade of the Prairie:

River Rock Church:

Trinity Lutheran Church:

St. John Lutheran Church:

First Presbyterian Church:

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