Dozens of Catholics met outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi on Saturday morning (Nov. 14) to celebrate a return to indoor Mass.

Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester ordered the end of indoor Mass across the archdiocese late last month, even though the governor's public health order still allowed indoor religious ceremonies.

Vicar General Glenn Jones, Wester's deputy, told priests in a letter Friday (Nov. 13) they could resume indoor Mass in line with the latest public health order with 25 percent of occupancy.

"The Archbishop continues to strongly recommend that people remain home and away from gatherings. The dispensation to not attend weekly mass remains," Jones said in the letter. "Preventative protocols such as social distancing, masks and disinfecting should be strictly observed, if not increased."

On Saturday morning, about 60 people, who were mostly but not all masked, prayed together outside the cathedral a few hours before the state Department of Health reported 10 new deaths from COVID-19 to bring the statewide total to 1,208.

The Rev. Bill Sanchez of St. Joseph Parish in Cerrillos thanked God and President Donald Trump for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and spoke of his "oath against modernism" before reading prayers aloud in Latin. During the hourlong gathering, one attendee's Trump flag drew a handful of honks and middle fingers.

Most attendees had taken part in protests since Wester's decision to halt indoor Mass after Oct. 26.

"With coronavirus stuff going on, we rely on the sacraments," said Eric Ulibarri, who has been attending Mass in the parking lot at St. Anne Parish off Agua Fría Street. "Without that, we're pretty much doomed."

Ulibarri said even when the weather is nice, he would still prefer to have Mass indoors.

Bart Wyatt, who drove three hours from Amistad with his wife and three children to attend the prayer, said he hasn't had outdoor Mass at his church in Roy.

"We have pretty strong wind all the time," Wyatt said. "We don't want to do anything sacrilegious and blow Jesus onto the ground."

After the celebration outside the cathedral, attendees said they were concerned the archbishop's decision wouldn't last long.

"We want to make sure he sticks to his guns," Wyatt said. "There's a difference between church and state. Even if the governor decides to close everything down, we've got to at least keep 25 percent."

Wester did not return calls for comment Saturday.

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