Regathering Process

The Diocese of Des Moines has created a process to determine when and how a parish may re-open after suspension of public worship due to COVID-19. The process was created and is implemented by a committee of clergy and laity. The committee monitors the daily number and trend of coronavirus cases in the 23 counties of our diocese & consults with local medical experts to determine when it is prudent to reopen a parish for public worship.

Opening occurs in phases

Phase 1 - This step refers to weekday only Mass with specific guidelines that include physical distancing, wearing of masks or face coverings, sanitary measures and liturgical requirements. Here are the details related to this phase. Please note:  Phase 1 guidelines remain applicable in phases 2 and 3 

Phase 2 - This step refers to expanding worship to include both weekday and weekend Mass and other forms of worship following guidelines listed in Phase 1. Here are the details related to this phase.

Phase 3 - This step refers to gatherings at a parish outside of worship such as meetings and socials. Here are the details related to this phase. Currently the maximum number of participants for phase 3 is 100 people. 

The 80 parishes in the Des Moines diocese may not all be in the same phase depending on the number of coronavirus cases as reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health. At this point in time, all counties are in phase 3

Temporary Adjustment to Phase 3 Regathering Guidelines:

On November 6th, the diocese implemented a regathering policy adjustment, made out of concern for the physical and spiritual health of the people of our diocese, and to protect our gathering around the Eucharistic table and worshiping together through these upcoming months. Due to the rising COVID cases throughout the Diocese of Des Moines, the increased hospitalizations, and the anticipated difficulties that the winter season will bring, the Diocese of Des Moines has suspended all parish and diocesan sponsored or hosted social events, beginning on November 23rd through January 10th.

The diocese remains in phase III of regathering, which allows for public worship and additional parish functions, but is adjusting the policy to temporarily prohibit parish and diocesan sponsored or hosted social events. While we hope for the ability to resume social gatherings on January 11th, we do recognize that the suspension may need to be extended at that time.

On November 11th, the Diocese of Des Moines implemented a mask requirement at all public Masses, sacramental celebrations and other events in Church buildings in the Diocese of Des Moines. This requirement extends through February 2, 2021 (The Feast of the Presentation), at which time it will be reviewed.

As parishes implement regathering procedures, the following documents may be of assistance:

  1. Liturgical Guidelines that apply during phases 1-3. 
  2. Cleaning instructions for Mass and other events. 
  3. A tool to help parishoners discern if they should attend Mass, in English and Spanish
  4. Communication tools to help introduct parishoners to new expectations at Mass in English and Spanish
  5. Guidelines for celebrating Sacraments of Initiation, funerals and weddings During COVID-19. 
  6. A discernment tool to help parishes establish when and how non-worship gatherings should resume. 
  7. Best practices for celebrating the Sacrament of Confession.
  8. A facility usage agreement template that addresses COVID-19 expectations. 
  9. A risk acknowledgment template for youth gatherings. 

The Diocese of Des Moines 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 they 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.


If parishes have questions about these, or any other elements, of regathering please contact Adam Storey at 515-237-5056 or