Celebrating Mass During the Pandemic: Update

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you for your patient cooperation during these unusual months. As you’ll recall, in November Bishop Stika issued a revised decree on the celebration of Mass and other rites during this time of pandemic. That revision provides us an opportunity to evaluate our disease prevention efforts here at Saint Mary’s. After consultation with our key liturgical leaders, it seems prudent to proceed as follows:

1. We will continue to take very seriously the face covering requirement, the six foot social distancing between households, and our other disease prevention measures.

2. Effective immediately, we are pausing our requirement that congregants sign up to attend Mass. However, if we find that there are too many people attending a particular celebration of Mass, then we might resume requiring prior sign-up for that particular celebration of Mass.

3. Beginning the First Sunday of Lent, the clergy will recess from the sanctuary and proceed to the Marian Courtyard after Mass on Sundays, weather permitting, for the purpose of sending off our parishioners and visitors. However, if the weather is unsuitable, then we will recess to the sacristy, so as not to encourage gathering in the foyer.

4. The Communion ministers still need to sanitize our hands—either by washing them in the sacristy as I do, or by using hand sanitizer—immediately before distributing Holy Communion during Mass. However, the wearing of eye covering is no longer required if it is inconvenient due to fogging, but otherwise still highly recommended by the chancellor.

5. When the pandemic began, I announced that the “Latest News” section of our parish website would be our primary means of communication with parishioners, and I asked every parishioner with internet access to sign up to receive the updates. Since distributing printed bulletins at Mass seems to be going well enough now, the weekly bulletin will again become our primary means of communication, effective the first Sunday of March.

6. Early this month, Cyndi Panter will set up a special subcommittee of the Divine Worship Committee, to provide ongoing guidance on disease control at liturgical celebrations during this pandemic. The subcommittee will report to the Divine Worship Committee, which, in turn, reports to the Parish Pastoral Council. Procedures for Holy Week and Easter Sunday should be among the sub-committee’s first concerns.

Have a joyful Candlemas! When there’s darkness, just light a candle!

In Christ,
Father Shelton