Archdiocese lifts Mass dispensation, university adjusts Mass offerings accordingly

Dear Marquette community,

Marquette is a Catholic, Jesuit university. This is who we are. Foundational to that identity is the celebration of the Eucharist. In this banquet of thanksgiving, believers come together to encounter our Risen Lord in the community, the proclamation of scripture and the sacrament of the altar. This communion offers us grace and strength to live our baptismal vocation with integrity. At the table of the Lord, we are reminded of who we are and who we are called to be in Christ.

On Sept. 3, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki reminded us of this important reality. In lifting the dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass, he focused attention—not on an externally imposed law—but on the inner truth of the heart. The obligation arises from our relationship with God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an obligation of love.

Here at Marquette we support the growth of that relationship for our Catholic community by the celebration of Mass. Unfortunately, in this time of pandemic, with the requirements of social distancing, we do not have the same in-person Mass capacities as we have had in the past. The number of Catholic students on campus far outnumbers our capacity to offer socially distanced Masses.

How is a faithful Marquette Catholic to navigate this tension between obligation and lack of space?

Archbishop Listecki provides vital pastoral guidance. As he tells us, “(t)here are circumstances where the obligation cannot be fulfilled.” In such circumstances, there is no sin. But there are many other circumstances, where we must weigh the issues at stake to make a decision in conscience. As the Archbishop states, “(i)t is up to each individual to weigh their own circumstances through an examination of their conscience and determine, by use of their conscience, whether or not they are excused from the Sunday obligation. Remember, a well-formed conscience is upright and truthful.”

With that pastoral counsel in mind, it is important that our Catholic students seeking Mass on campus make a serious, good-faith effort to secure a place using the pre-registration service provided by Campus Ministry. Those considering off-campus in-person options should consult individual parish websites to learn their policies and capacity restrictions; they, too, are limited by the requirements of social distancing. When attending Mass in person is not possible, it is still important to join with the wider Catholic community in prayer and reflection on the Word of God. The many livestream Mass options available on Sundays and throughout the week can be a real source of spiritual strength in these challenging times, see the updated Campus Ministry schedule.

To accommodate the Archdiocese’s lifting of the Mass dispensation while still maintaining social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the university has adjusted Mass times as follows, beginning this week:

In addition to the livestream planned for the 6 p.m. Sunday night Masses, Campus Ministry is seeking to livestream additional Masses to the AMU Ballrooms with Communion distribution. The Campus Ministry Mass schedule will be updated accordingly.

The Office of Mission and Ministry invites the entire campus community to celebrate the Eucharist with us, whether you choose to do so in person or virtually.


Rev. Jim Voiss, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry