Given growing concerns about the risks of viral infection, our parish is making the following preparations:
- Our Society of Saint Vincent de Paul conference is meeting today to determine how best to continue food distribution in the event of a local outbreak.
- Our White Elephant Thrift Store will comply with any relevant directives from local health authorities, if these are issued.
- The parish office will remain open for the staff, but we are prepared to close the front lobby if this becomes advisable in coming weeks. If we do close the lobby, then we will attempt to keep enough volunteer receptionists to answer the phones during office hours.
- Our school is developing its own contingency plan, in cooperation with the diocesan superintendent of schools.
- Our religious education program (“CCD”) for public schools children is developing an at-home study program. Our Director of Religious Education will provide updates to parents, as needed.
- Parish study groups and prayer groups may continue to meet for the time being.
- Parish youth groups and our young adult group should consider outdoor meetings, if possible. Further directives will be issued by the respective group leaders, as needed.
- Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to the sick, and Legion of Mary visitors to the sick, should comply with directives currently being issued by each local healthcare institution. Please call ahead before visiting. We also need to develop a strategy for maintaining twice-weekly welfare contacts with homebound parishioners who live alone.
- Mass and other liturgical rites will continue as usual, following any directives from Bishop Stika.
- Devotional exercises, such as the Friday Way of the Cross during Lent, will continue as usual, unless Bishop Stika issues directives to the contrary.
- The reservation and use of parish facilities by private and civic groups will continue as usual, unless local health authorities issue guidance to the contrary.
The primary instrument of communication for parishioners about any procedural or scheduling changes pertaining to infection concerns will be our parish website’s “Latest News” section. All parishioners are encouraged to visit the website and then enter their email address in the “Latest News” section, which will allow them to receive the latest updates in a timely manner. The parish app will serve a similar purpose.
Please remember that caregivers are still expected to call a priest to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick for a patient who becomes seriously ill, even in the event of an unusual viral outbreak. Hospitals and nursing homes receiving federal funds are obliged to accommodate such requests. Since our receptionists and our evening/weekend answering system transfer all calls for a priest directly to the priests’ cells phones, it’s always easy to reach a priest at Saint Mary’s.