We are very happy to be able to re-start public Masses, and welcome you back into the parish church. We look forward to seeing you, but obviously there are going to be some procedures in place to insure a safe environment that discourages spreading COVID-19.
Considerations for attending a public gathering for Mass
1. Dispensation still in effect! The dispensation from your obligation to attend Mass, given by Bishop Jugis, remains in effect. Therefore, you are not obliged to attend Mass; doing so is your personal decision, after considering the risks;
2. Gatherings have inherent risk of spreading COVID-19: Any decision to attend a public gathering for Mass is that of the individual, and should be made very carefully;
3. Consider staying home: Stay home, and do not attend Mass, if you answer “yes” to any of the following:
a. Do you have signs or symptoms of a new respiratory illness: cough, shortness of breath, fatigue with muscle aches, chills, headaches, sore throat, loss of taste or smell?
b. Have you had a fever within the past 24 hours or do you feel like you have a fever?
c. Have you had contact with anyone in the last 14 days with fever, shortness of breath, or who has been exposed to COVID-19?
d. Have you visited a care facility or hospital in the last 14 days?
4. Bathrooms closed! Our public bathrooms must remain closed; if you or your children cannot make it through Mass without bathroom use, please consider not attending.
LIMITED MASS SCHEDULE - PLEASE NOTE
Public Masses will be held only on:
Friday: 12:10 p.m. (no other daily Masses scheduled for now)
Saturday: 4:00 p.m. (an hour earlier than previously scheduled)
Sunday: 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (7am Mass not scheduled for now)
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
Please click this link to sign up for one Mass per week. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b4ca9a922a5ff2-weekend
Masses in the main church only;
• limited to 200 people;
• sign up for only one Mass per week (either weekday or Sunday);
BE PREPARED BEFORE COMING TO MASS - The 3 W's
Wear: A face covering
Wait: At least SIX (6) feet apart when entering the church and when going up for Holy Communition
Wash: Your hands before entering for Mass; Use hand sanitizer before receiving Holy Communion
WHAT TO EXPECT UPON ARRIVAL
ENTERING THE BUILDING FOR MASS:
• Enter through designated side-entry doors at front of building; gathering lobby will be closed.
• Collection basket will be available when you enter; please drop your contribution in the basket
• Our ushers will direct you to available pews; please be attentive and patient.
• Section 1 will be filled first, then section 2, and so on (see Diagram No. 1, below)
SEATING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR MASS:
• Families, and those living in the same household, may sit together with no social distancing from one another; please tell the usher you are together as a family unit.
• Every-other-pew will be available; if not with a family, you must sit 6 feet apart, which is about three (3) persons per pew for most of our pews (shorter pews may be limited to 1-2 people, or one family).
• Please be docile to the requests of ushers/volunteers if they ask you to move; they are only doing so to protect you, and others, by maintaining social distancing.
CONDUCT OF THE MASS - Some things will be different:
• Unfortunately, best practices say that we should not sing during Mass, as it increases the dispersion of respiratory droplets in the space and, thus, increases the likelihood of the spread of any viral infection(s);
• There will be no passing-of-the-baskets for the collection of your monetary offertory; please use available baskets as you enter/exit;
• Gifts of bread and wine will not be brought up the aisle to the priest;
• The sign of peace will not be offered or given, to reduce contact with others;
• You should not hold hands at any time, including during the Our Father.
• Homilies will be brief. Mass must be shortened so that we may sanitize before the next mass
RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
No one is under an obligation to receive Holy Communion; if you feel it is a risk to receive, you are free not to do so.
If you choose not to receive, do not come up for a blessing: remain in your seat, and engage in a Spiritual Communion (this will help shorten Communion)
Communion stations will be greatly reduced: the priest and deacon/server will start distribution at the center aisle;
• Center seating sections one (1) and two (2) will be served first (See, Diagram No. 1, above);
• Priest and deacon/server will then move to the wings to serve sections three (3) and four (4).
Should you elect to receive Holy Communion, take note of the following:
i. Please continue to wear a face covering of some type in line, until you present yourself to the minister or priest for the reception of Holy Communion;
ii. Maintain 6-foot spacing for social distancing while in line;
iii. You may receive Our Lord in the hand, or on the tongue;
iv. Those distributing Holy Communion will sanitize their fingers between communicants.
CONCLUSION OF THE MASS AND EXITING
There will be no gathering after mass; the priest, and any deacon/server(s) will process from the altar directly to the sacristy.
The ushers will assist in your exit from the building (see, Diagram No. 2, below): keeping in mind that volunteers will need to sanitize the space in time to start the next Mass, please depart expeditiously.
Feel free to visit with others outdoors, in parking lots, away from the front entrance, once you exit after Mass.
These guidelines are out of love and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the added consideration of the love, safety, and health of all those who choose to attend Mass in person during this pandemic, and those who are serving at such Masses.
If everyone abides by these guidelines, perhaps opportunities to attend Mass in person will be expanded, and we will help the region and state move out of restrictive Phases, and back to a more normal and typical life in our parish and community.
God bless you all!
Father Christian Cook – Pastor, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church