Returning to Public Masses at St. Gregory Barbarigo:
The instructions have come from the diocese regarding opening up and having public Masses. They will be tweaked again this week as questions arise. Please do not hesitate to offer suggestions and voice concerns – we are doing this for the first time, and will have a lot to learn from the process. At this time, here is what I can tell you:
- We will begin public celebration of Masses on the weekend of May 23-24.
- We will continue to stream Masses, one or two on weekends, each one on weekdays.
- We will have “social distancing” at Mass where everyone is 6 feet apart, except those who live in the same household, who may sit together. As part of social distancing, the Bishop has asked that everyone receive communion in the hand for this period. That allows us to keep a safer distance from each other than receiving on the tongue. When this is over, we can go back to normal preferences.
- With social distancing, there will only be about 50 people allowed to attend at first.
- Everyone will be expected to wear masks and sanitize hands upon entering and leaving.
- Right now I plan on going back to 3 Masses on weekends as before. They will be at:
*5 PM on Saturday,
*8 AM and 10:30 AM on Sunday.
- We are trying to find a system whereby people can sign up for attending Masses, and everyone who wants to come will be able to attend at least once a week. To do this, we ask you to be flexible. Tentatively we plan on having weekday Masses at:
Monday, no Mass
*noon on Tuesday,
*8 AM on Wednesday (primarily for older parishioners),
*5:30 PM on Thursday, and
*8 AM on Friday.
We are open to suggestions, as we want to find the times which are most popular.
- There will be no offertory procession, no placing of hosts in the ciborium, no collection (baskets will be left out on a table in each isle to drop off your envelope).
- We will need lots of volunteers to do this:
- a) cleaning crew for the church after every Mass;
- b) a crew of ushers to greet, sanitize, & seat people, watch offertory baskets; release people for communion, and release at the end of Mass to maintain separation;
- c) lectors and extraordinary communion ministers.
All of these will need to be specially trained.
- If in the last 14 days you are or have been around anyone experiencing the following symptoms, please do not come to church:
* Shortness of breath
* Loss of sense of taste or smell
* Runny nose
* Sore Throat
* Known COVID-19
The Bishop has dispensed all of us from the obligation of attending Mass on Sunday during the pandemic. Given this dispensation, I would ask that you rotate your attendance at Sunday Masses and sign up for weekday Masses as space opens up so that everyone may, over the course of a month or less, attend Mass on Sunday and receive communion. It is our hope that EVERYONE who wants to come should be able to come to Mass at sometime during the week and receive communion.
I am not convinced that the pandemic is on the decline, especially in rural areas, so am proceeding with caution. If you have some sort of condition – age, compromised immune system, medical condition due to diabetes or side effects from meds that you take, PLEASE DO NOT COME until the danger subsides. Wednesday’s Mass will be primarily for elderly folks to attend, but even then do not feel obligated to take any unnecessary chances. The irony that I am in that category is not lost on me. My worst nightmare is that we lose anyone in this parish because of contagion at Mass. So we need to do this well and take all necessary precautions.
I repeat that our plans could change depending on how many people come or want to come to Mass, people suggest better ideas, the situation changes (e.g. there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, a vaccine is found), etc. Facing this challenge with charity, courage, and discipline has the potential to make us a stronger Christian community. I ask for your patience, your cooperation, your suggestions, and your prayers. None of us have ever gone through this, and we are privileged to go on this adventure together.
I thank God for you and pray for the grace to be a good pastor to you all, especially in this time. Let us continue to remain connected in Christ through everything we are experiencing, that in and through trials we may grow closer to each other in Christ Jesus, our Risen Savior.
In the Risen Lord,
Father Albert, O.S.B.