Parishioners, priest at Annandale church test positive for COVID-19

As Catholic churches in Minnesota push to reopen early in defiance of the governor's order, some parishioners and a priest at a Wright County church have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Church of St. Timothy in Maple Lake and St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Annandale share clergy as the two churches are less than 10 miles away from each other. 

According to a Facebook post shared Wednesday on both parishes' pages, some parishioners at St. Ignatius, who had been in contact with the priests, have tested positive for the virus. Since then, a priest has also tested positive. Other clergy members are showing symptoms, but are still awaiting test results. The post states at least one volunteer, who helped pass out flowers for Mother's Day is also experiencing symptoms and was exposed to those who have tested positive.

"This comes as a major surprise to us, as we have tried to respect the guidelines of the CDC and social distancing and the MDH to the best of our ability," read the post. "While I’m hopeful that this presents minimal risk to all of you, I wanted to share so that you were aware and could be especially attentive to any symptoms that might develop if you have recently interacted with any of the clergy, served at one of the Masses that were live-streamed, or were present at Saint Ignatius for the flower distribution."

Under the current order, places of worship are not allowed to hold gatherings with more than 10 people. Despite this, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced plans to resume Mass on May 26 with sanitation and social distancing measures in place. 

With all three clergy members at St. Ignatius and St. Timothy potentially affected, the churches "may not come back to public Masses as soon as other churches," according to the post. Church leaders say they would not want to return to public Mass until after clergy have tested negative or overcome the symptoms.