The Coronavirus

Diocesan and Parish Efforts to Combat Its Spread

 

Guidelines for the Reopening for Masses at St. Paul’s

 

Blessed Easter Season Everyone,

I am happy to announce on May 30th and 31st we will be able to reopen the church for Mass, which is very appropriate since we will be celebrating the birthday of the Church on the feast of Pentecost.  In order to create a safe environment to return to Mass, the Diocese and the parish have implemented the following guidelines:

Pre-Mass Preparation:

  1. Dispensation from Obligation—First and foremost, the Bishop continues the dispensation from attending Sunday Mass, so Mass is not an obligation to attend.
    1. If you are sick in any way, DO NOT ATTEND MASS. 
    2. If you are vulnerable or compromised in any way, you do not have to attend Mass.  Take comfort in staying home and remain safe to have peace of mind.  We will continue to live-stream Mass for you to watch.
    3. If you are nervous about returning to Mass at this time, you can stay home as well.  I want everyone to come when they are ready.
    4. If you disagree or do not like any of the guidelines, you should stay home because everyone who attends Mass must follow all the guidelines.
  2. Sign up for Mass—Beginning in July, we will no longer require people to sign up to attend Mass.  We have had plenty of space for everyone to come so far.  Please be aware that if enough people come to Mass that we run out of space to properly social distance, we will not be able to allow anyone else into the church.  

At Mass:

  1. Face Masks—Everyone must wear a mask to attend Mass.  This is both a diocese mandate and recommendation by CDC.  Anyone above the age of 2 must wear a mask.  Please have your mask on the moment you enter the church.  If there is an issue with wearing a mask, we ask that you stay home.  There are no exceptions to this directive.
  2. Arrival at Church and seating—When your family arrives at Church, a member of parish council will check you in and an usher will lead you to your pew.  Half of the pews in the Church will be roped off and inaccessible to help with social distancing.  We ask that you do not make request for where to sit.  These are unusual circumstances and we may not be able to sit where we usually sit.  
  3. Arrive on time—Due to the guidelines we are required to follow, I ask everyone to arrive on time if not a little early.  Once Mass starts, I will not admit anyone - so please be on time.  This helps us get everyone seated while following the social distancing norms. If you do not arrive on time, we cannot ensure that your slot will be available.
  4. Collection—We will have a basket on a table in the back of the Church for your envelopes and donations.  Please drop the donation in the basket as you come into Mass or leave.
  5. Communion—I will review the guidelines for how we will do Communion at each Mass.  The diocese requirement to be aware of is everyone will have to receive Communion in their hands, so we will not be giving Communion on the tongue.  You will have to wear a mask to come up to receive Communion.  I know for some people this may not be the norm, but we must follow the guidelines of the Bishop.  The other guidelines will be announced at Mass.
  6. No communion to the homebound-Currently we are not taking the Eucharist to homes for people who have not yet returned to Mass or to our regular shut-ins who cannot come to Mass due to health issues.  We want to maintain safety for all our parishioners. Please do not bring a pyx up in the communion line to receive communion to take home to a family member. We understand that people are missing receiving the Body of Christ, but for right now this is the way we are handling the current situation. We appreciate your understanding! 
  7. Leaving Mass—We will be using all the exits in the Church to aid in people leaving Mass.  I ask everyone to leave slowly and with regards social distancing.  Please do not group and socialize with people as you leave.  I know many of us have not seen each other in a while, but please wait until you have departed from the church.  For us to follow the guidelines throughout Mass then socialize once Mass is over defeats the purpose of having guidelines.
  8. Sanitation—We will be cleaning and sanitizing the Church after every Mass.  We will also provide hand sanitizer at the door when you enter and exit.  If you are willing to help with the clean up team, please contact the office.
  9. Ushers—Due to the guidelines, the ushers will be asked to do different things than at a normal Mass.  If you are willing to help as an usher at Mass, I ask that you call the office.  This will be temporary ministry to help with us following the guidelines. We will have a training for the ushers to ensure that the guidelines are understood and followed.

I know these guidelines can be overwhelming in reviewing at first, but we will have people at each Mass helping guide us throughout the process.  As I said in the beginning, if any of these guidelines make you nervous or if you don’t agree with them, please stay home.  These are guidelines required by the Bishop and the diocese, and we must follow them in order to have Mass again.  

And again, if you are anxious, worried, or concerned to come to Mass at this time, please take comfort in the Bishop’s dispensation and be safe by staying home. It is not a sin to miss Mass under these guidelines. We will be here when you are ready.

Finally, after going over two months without public Mass, I am excited to be gathering back together and seeing everyone.  I hope you are excited too.

 

Fr. Rusty Vincent