Parish mitigation policies

Effective April 1, COVID-19 mitigation policies in the 80 parishes of the Diocese of Des Moines will be adjusted allowing for:

  • Every pew to be used. Please allow 6 feet in between families in pews and, when possible, between pews.
  • Baptismal fonts and holy water fonts may be refilled after the Easter Vigil
  • Scholas of 4 to 5 singers at a safe distance from the congretation are permitted.

Masks continue to be required. Read Bishop William Joensen's letter explaining the changes here.


See the following resources to clear up any confusion about whether and which vaccines to take for COVID-19. The Catholic Church leaders say that -- given the public doesn't have a choice in which vaccine to get for the time being -- taking any of the three currently available serves the common good and is morally acceptable.

The Vatican

The Vatican says it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines for COVID-19. Several reasons are given for being able to use the vaccines including:

  • those who use the vaccine had no choice in how it was developed;
  • use does not constitute formal cooperation with abortion;
  • we can continue to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop ethically sound vaccines;
  • we have a moral responsibility to protect the common good;
  • there are no ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines available.

Here is the statement from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. In the CDF's statement they urge everyone concerned for the sanctity of life to protest the use of abortion-derived cell lines and advocate for the development of vaccines with no connection to abortion. To make it easer to take this action the USCCB has provided sample letter to pharmaceutical companies here

U.S. bishops

Two leading U.S. bishops, who lead committees on doctrine and pro-life, said last December it's morally acceptable to take the vaccines available to prevent COVID-19. "Given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote, inoculation with the new COVID-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified." Here is their full statement.

On March 2, they addressed ethical questions about a third vaccine option, concluding: “While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”

Here is a list of frequently asked ethical questions about vaccines.

Here is a side-by-side comparision of the vaccines available and in development from the Lozier Institute.

Iowa bishops

In this statement issued March 4, Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels says if people are given a choice among three vaccines currently available, they should choose the Moderna or Pfiser options. But people are not being given a choice and won't be given a choice for the foreseeable future the common good must be considered. "So, if Catholics have the opportunity to get vaccinated, and aren’t given a choice of vaccines, they should gratefully receive whatever is available; the sooner, the better. The common good of protecting the public health against a contagious and potentially deadly virus takes precedence over any reservations Catholics might have about being treated with any of the available vaccines."

The Catholic bishops of Iowa have said people may, in good conscience, use the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. "Morally speaking, the vaccine offered by these two companies is relatively remote from the evil of abortion," they said. Read their full statement here.

For a more detailed explanation of the moral issues related to COVID vaccines, and how the Catholic Church enters into discernment in these circumstances, you can read a recent statement by the National Catholic Bioethics Center here.


Public worship

In the spring of 2020, public worship was suspended, though churches remained open for private prayer. The faithful have regathered in stages, each one structured with specific safety measures based on community spread of COVID-19. The Diocese of Des Moines is in stage 3 of regathering. Here is a description of each phase of regathering, with guidelines in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Watching the numbers

The diocese continues to monitor the public health situation in southwest Iowa by watching county specific COVID-19 data, and by frequently consulting with local medical experts and diocesan priests. If the diocese observes a significant local increase in COVID-19 cases over the course of two weeks it will consider resuming previous phase restrictions on gatherings and public Masses. These decisions will be made on a county specific basis, and in consultation with the diocesan regathering team, local pastors, and medical experts.

  •  Here are some helpful posters to help returning parishioners learn about the changes at their church.


Parishes have been asked to continue streaming Masses online. Here is a list of parishes that are streaming. You may need to check with the parish about the times, as some of those changed when public celebration of the Mass resumed. 


Our school administrators have worked tirelessly to devise a Return to Learn plan for the upcoming school year. Get the latest information here .

Prayer Resources

Use this time to grow closer to the Lord. There are many resources to feed our spirituality. Take a look at the prayers and multitude of websites that offer prayer, tips and guidance.


Resources for ministry leaders

Parish ministry leaders are encouraged to follow this link to a list of resources they may find useful.

Resources for families

We have compiled podcasts, articles, and prayer resources to foster our faith during this time.


Social Services

Here is a list of social services available in our communities. Catholic Charities can be contacted if you need help with food, counseling or other social services.

Hospitals/Care Facilities

Contact the hospital or care facility you want to visit prior to going to see what restrictions may be in place.



HR for parishes and schools

Here is a link to a memo and resource information sent to parishes and schools on March 13.


If your parish or school is part of the unemployment program with the Iowa Catholic Conference, and you have staff whose hours are reduced, or staff are temporarily furloughed, they should file a claim here with Iowa Workforce Development. If your parish or school is not part of the ICC’s unemployment program, your staff may still be eligible for some financial aid if their hours are reduced or they are furloughed. The new CARES Act covers employees of nonprofit organizations. They should contact Iowa Workforce Development for information on how to apply.

Accessing funds

Parishes can access their funds at the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa here.