Reopening Our Churches

Dear Parishioners,

      So many pieces of our daily lives have changed in the last few months, as we have responded to the Corona Virus and sought to protect those who are most vulnerable from Covid-19.

When you return to Mass, it will look quite a bit different.

Below is an outline of what to expect should you decide to attend Mass at any one of our Collaborative churches during our "Phase I" reopening. For many, if not most of our parishioners, the best and most prudent decision will be to stay away from attending Mass at the present time.

Please take some time to read these guidelines, and reach out if you have questions. Our priests and staff members and volunteers have been working hard to assemble all of the details necessary to resume Masses, and we are happy to help you with any of your concerns. We are so grateful for your patience, for your prayers, and for your graceful consideration as we all navigate this new normal. 

And remember: while Mass may look different, the Eucharist is unchanging! May we receive Christ in joy, and bring that joy out into the world!

What guidelines do parishioners need to observe while in church?

We encourage you to come to Mass early. We will open the doors a half hour before Mass begins. Please do not enter the church until you are welcomed in. If the weather is inclement, you may need to bring an umbrella, or wait in your car until the church is opened.

If you can, please bring your own hand sanitizer to church. There will also be sanitizer provided by the parish positioned at the entry to the church.

All members of the congregation need to wear masks, with a few exceptions:

- Children under the age of two should not wear masks.

- Parents should judge for children between the ages of two and five whether they should wear a mask.

- All people who claim an exemption because of health can forego wearing a mask. They do not have to provide documentation.

- The priest and others with him in the sanctuary do not need to wear masks in the sanctuary as long as strict social distancing is maintained. They do have to wear masks when assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion.

All members of the congregation must maintain a social distance of six feet.

Upon entering the building, congregants will be counted, and can place their offertory in a basket at the entry. Parishioners are also welcome to give online, to mail their donations to the Parish Offices, and to leave them in the mail slot at the Parish Offices. Donations for SVdP/the Adoration Chapel/the Pregnancy Care Center/etc. may be placed in the offertory basket, as long as they are in a marked envelope.

There will be no holy water fonts in use and there will be no lighting of candles.

Ushers will lead Mass-goers to assigned seating. If you require handicapped seating, please notify your usher. If you require Communion to be brought to you, please notify your usher.

Families may sit together, but all other people must maintain proper social distancing of six feet. There will be limited seating in the hall if the church becomes full.

Floors will be marked to show traffic flow, so as to assure one-way movement. Congregants must follow the arrows marked upon the floor, unless they are being directed by an usher.

There will be no public access to the sacristy while the church is open.

There will be no social gatherings before or after Mass.

There will be no holding of hands during the Our Father, and no invitation to participate in a sign of peace.

There will be no congregational singing.

If a congregant needs to use the bathroom facilities or move about the church after being seated, the entire row must exit the pew so that no one will have to climb over anyone else.

What are the guidelines for the distribution of Holy Communion?

There will be one Communion station in the church, and one in the hall if the church becomes full. If you attend Mass in the hall, please remain in your seat until the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion comes downstairs to you.

Parishioners may well decide not to receive Holy Communion if they feel the risk is too high, and that decision will be honored and respected.

Ushers will direct each pew to come forward to receive Communion. 

Congregants who are not coming forward to receive Holy Communion or a blessing should still get out of their pews and process, so that no one will have to climb over anyone else.

There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.

Neither the priest nor the communicant should wear gloves during the distribution of Holy Communion.

The communicants and the priest will wear masks.

There will be tape on the floor to show where to stand as a communicant approaches to receive communion.

The priest will hold the consecrated host in his hands and drop the host into the communicant’s hands without touching his or her hands. In the case of unintentional contact, the priest will sanitize his own hands immediately.

Communicants will receive the consecrated host in their hands, step six feet to the side to a marked square on the floor, lower their mask, consume the host, replace their mask, and return to the pew.

There will be tape on the floor to show how to return to the pews.

There will be a few moments of silent prayer, before the final prayer and dismissal.

Participants at Mass are encouraged to leave the church within a few minutes of the end of Mass so as to allow time for cleaning the church before the next Mass. Trained volunteers will direct row by row exiting.

If you are willing to serve your parish community as a volunteer during Mass, or in cleaning and disinfecting the church after Mass, please call the Parish Offices at 978-957-0322 or email [email protected]  ~~ Thank you!