Guide Lines As We Return to Mass
Bishop Walkowiak extends dispensation from Sunday Mass obligation until October 18th.
Our cluster parishes will be offering public Masses and devotions beginning on Friday, May 29th. This will begin the first phase of a gradual reopening. As Bishop David Walkowiak wrote in a recent letter, public Masses will have a different look and feel to them. This is so to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
This letter outlines some of those changes. Attendance will be limited. The number of people allowed to attend a Mass will be 25% of capacity (About 82 people at St Catherine, 40 people at St Francis Xavier, and 115 people at St Joseph). That being said, the Bishop has granted a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass through June 30th and has encouraged people who are over 60 years of age and/or have an underlying health condition to stay home and pray from there. People who have a fever and/or feel sick absolutely should not come to church. Ever. People with a flexible schedule should consider participating in a weekday Mass instead of a Sunday one.
Social Distancing will be practiced. We will use every third pew in the churches and only members of the same household can sit in the same pew. Social distancing will be maintained during the service and we ask parishioners not to congregate in the entryways either before or after Mass. Cry rooms will be locked. People will be dismissed pew by pew starting from the back.
Mask/Face coverings will be required by all those two years of age or older. Obviously, at communion time, one will have to remove a mask in order to consume the host. This will be done when one is next in line and the mask will be put back on after consuming the host and before returning to the pew. If one is wearing gloves and wants to receive the host on the hand, the gloves must come off.
Mass will be celebrated a little differently. There will be no holy water in the fonts. There will be no greeters, no servers, no choir, and no lay ministers of communion. There will be no missalettes, prayer cards or hymnals in the pews. Well known hymns or refrains will be sung by memory. There will be no offertory collection, but a basket will be placed at the entry way of church where one can place their envelope before or after Mass (Other options are to drop off or mail a donation at the office or give on line). There will be no Sign of Peace. Communion will be only under one form (bread) and the priest will be the only distributor. Communicants will be asked to stay six feet apart and form only one line. Parishioners are not allowed to take the Eucharist home to others.
Extra sanitation practices will be in place. A team at each parish will wipe down frequently touched surfaces between Masses. While hand sanitizer will be available for parishioners to use before and after Mass, people are encouraged to bring their own. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Saint Joseph will be for one hour (8:30-9:30) following the 8:00 am Mass on Tuesday. The churches will be open as customary for private prayer. These modifications are temporary. I look forward to a time when we can gather together freely and without fear.
You remain in my thoughts and prayers,
Fr Phil Shangraw