If all goes well today and we can comply with the following criteria we may have a chance to resume masses next week. They may not be as you remember and some changes will have to be implemented. So for now, continue to pray for end to the virus and that we can start mass soon.
Starting Communion Services and working to keep everyone safe and protected is challenging. I know there are many questions. So, I pray for your patience. We are going to start slowly and in a conservative manner. If I have not addressed your specific question in the instructions below then I would suggest you stay home this weekend and be safe. We would all like to have everyone attend but that is not possible. Also realize that each church/cluster that will be starting Communion Services will not be identical. Each church is designed differently. What works at one church will not be appropriate for all churches. Nor does each church have personnel to make sure we comply with all the restrictions. Just know we are attempting to do the best we can. Because this is lengthy, I am high lighting some keep portions.
On Sunday, May 31st Bishop is allowing us to continue with another Communion Service with restrictions and appropriate measures implemented to protect people who wish to attend these services. No one should feel obligated to attend. If you are high risk or living with someone who is high risk, you should not come. If you need assistance walking or would need to use the elevator you should not come. If you have flu like symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has had the flu or exhibited symptoms you should not come. If you have had cancer, are diabetic, or have compromised health issues you should not come. Bishop James Powers has dispensed our obligation to attend mass. If you have any of the above situations please stay home, watch our live streaming masses or recorded mass.
Copies of these restrictions are online and will be in my daily email homilies. We would really appreciate your patience and cooperation. For the next couple of weeks, how we respond will determine when and how we can get back to some semblance of a Eucharistic celebration. Yes, many states are opening up their churches in many different ways according to their location, population, and what they can do to sanitize and clean their churches to protect people.
The following steps are not only to protect you but all that come to these services and those assisting to provide these services. These communion services are not mass so do not expect everything that happens at a mass to be present here.
For us to start, we have established a specific time to hold these Communion Services, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sunday, only. If you plan to attend, please arrive on time. These communion services will only be at St Joseph this weekend. Until we learn how to manage social distancing and procedures for sanitizing the church properly, the communion services are held at St Joseph.
Please maintain a spirit of reverence as you enter church until you leave. Each service is anticipated to be only 10 minutes in length. Please park in the West Parking lot between church and school. Eight (8) people will be allowed to enter the Southwest door and 8 people will be allowed to enter the Northwest Adoration door. You will be assisted outside by the Knights of Columbus hosting as ushers. The Knights of Columbus will be giving instructions on where to stand and when to enter the church. Please follow their instructions for the safety of all. They will be wearing masks. We ask everyone to wear a mask out of charity for others and to protect yourself too. There will be one service at the front of the church, the other at back of the church. As each service concludes, the next group of 8 will be ushered into church for the service. As you see openings in the line of people by the entrance door please proceed to the entrances to stand in one of the openings. Look for the marks on the sidewalk indicating appropriate social distancing guidelines. Do not socialize in the parking lot before or after the Communion Service. Remain in your car until you can safely move to an entrance. While in your vehicle please pray in preparation to receive communion.
Upon entering the church, do not touch anything. Do not touch the doors, they will be open for you. If possible, do not touch stair handrails. We would prefer you stay home if you need to use those handrails. Should you touch them notify the ushers as they will have to sanitize them before others can enter. There will be hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit. Please use them. We will have signs up as reminders of these instructions. You cannot use the elevator. We do not have the equipment or personnel to sanitize the elevator after each use. You will not be allowed to sit in the pews or kneel to pray. You must be able to stand for the entire service which is about 10 minutes in length. After receiving communion, you are to proceed to your vehicle. Please do not socialize.
This is the format of a communion service:
Greeting – Penitential Rite –
Short Gospel Verse – Lord’s Prayer –
Communion – Concluding Prayer
As you leave there will be a basket for your weekly donation. Do not expect to use the restrooms or go downstairs. Do not expect to sit in the pews or kneel after receiving communion. This not a replacement for mass. It is a method to start to open churches for mass under very controlled and measure procedures. We need and appreciate your cooperation. We expect the number of people attending to continue to grow. If needed more time and arrangements will be added. I hope to include the other churches in Communion Services soon. Please be aware as we prepare St Joseph for these restrictions and procedural guidelines some of the above restrictions may be changed or modified.
This is exciting. We are heading in the right direction, but we are going to be extremely cautious and focused on your health and safety. Please pray for an end to this virus.