Announcement About Mass Re-Opening For The Weekend Of May 9 & 10
As you probably are aware, public Mass will be reopened beginning Monday, May 4th. The first weekend Masses that will be opened is May 9-10. I can’t think of a better Mother’s Day gift that the possibility of attending mass again. With this great news comes a great responsibility. Safety is paramount. If we believe that going to mass is more essential than going to Walmart, and it is, we must make certain that being in Church is safer than being in that store.
There are several protocols we will implement to ensure being in Church is as safe as possible. The first may the most important. The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is still lifted. Those that are elderly, high risk, been exposed or those that have close contact with such individuals should NOT come to mass. Masses will continue to be live-streamed and anyone exposed to someone high risk should participate that way.
Second, social distancing at Mass is imperative. Families are required to sit at least six feet apart from other families. Families would normally be considered as households. However, if you are in frequent contact with family not living in your household, it is permissible to sit in the same pew. In our churches, only every other pew will be open. To the extent possible, families should avoid sitting directly behind the family two pews ahead of you. This offsetting of families will increase safety. It seems unlikely that anyone will be able to sit in “their” spot!
Obviously, this will greatly reduce the capacity of our churches. It is imperative that those high-risk individuals, or those in contact with high risk individuals STAY HOME. However, overflow areas will be set up as possible based on the ability to live-stream and sanitize to which communion will be distributed. If there is need for additional Masses, they will be added. But, once safe social distancing is not possible, parishioners will be DENIED ENTRY. All are reminded that, since Sunday is not obligatory, it would be noble to attend weekday mass instead, when the crowds will not be as large.
It is also desirable that areas of frequent contact be avoided. Holy water and missalettes will not be in the church. The missalettes in the churches will be made available to families to take home. Families can bring these copies to and from the mass they attend if they find them helpful to facilitate participation.
Only the main doors to the Church will be available and we will have gloved ushers to open and close these doors as necessary. Because nothing is to be passed, there will be no collection taken (envelopes can be dropped in the baskets as you walk in) and no offertory will be taken up.
Reception of Holy Communion will be a logistical challenge, to say the least. Social distancing is a must, which means families cannot come forward in the normal manner. I’m hoping to discuss logistics with each parish council, but the most likely outcome is having communion brought to the congregation rather than having families come forward. Regardless, the minister distributing Holy Communion, despite having taken every possible precaution, will be touching hosts and hands and potentially tongues. If this is an issue, one should stay home or come and not receive Holy Communion. More information will follow.
It is also an unfortunate necessity that, after the St. Michael prayer, there is no socializing in the Church, especially between families for two reasons. First, it violates social distancing protocols. More importantly, however, there church will have to be sanitized after every mass, and the quicker the church is cleared, the quicker those that volunteer to sanitize the church can finish. Hopefully, the weather will permit socialization outside.
Keep in mind, different people have different tolerances for risks. There should never be any pressure on anyone to attend mass or not to attend Mass. It is an individual choice that, during this time of pandemic, is justified in either decision.
As with any transition, there may be some bumpiness along the way. Please recognize that at least some access to Holy Communion, regardless of this bumpiness, is worth a little inconvenience. Please pray for all our parish families that the Lord, who knows the burdens of inconvenience, will strengthen us during this time.