The following letter was written to parishioners in Spring 2020.
May 11, 2020
With great joy, we received the good news that Bishop Talley has given permission for the public celebration of Mass to start again on Saturday afternoon May 16. Our greatest gift as Catholic is Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith. At St. Mary’s, like so many communities of faith, we want to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable in our midst. Following the way of Jesus, we work for the common good of all, not just our own good. Out of love and charity, we make sacrifices for the sake of others. So we are taking various steps and implementing procedures at Masses to help protect the most at risk in our parish family and in our community at large. The inconveniences and extra precautions that we take are not done out of fear but out of love. We do not do all of this with a spirit of apprehension and trepidation but with a spirit of generosity and gratitude. We have been asked to take these extra precautions until June 30 but plans must adapt to the changing reality week by week and even day by day, so please stay alert to any communications via mail, email, or social media.
Bishop Talley in his Decree of May 1, 2020, wrote this, “FIRST, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation offered on the 16th of March continues in effect through the 30th of June 2020. In particular, those who are experiencing any sickness, for those with any health vulnerability and those fearful of the possible infection of Covid-19 should stay at home.” For those who remain at home, Mass will be live-streamed on the St. Mary’s YouTube channel.
New times for Mass and confessions: Masses will be Saturday 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.; Sunday at 7:30, 9:30, 11:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. in English, and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. in Spanish. Confessions will be “drive-through” on Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and inside the church on Wednesday from 11:00 to 12:00 Noon. All priests, deacons, ministers and volunteers must check in before Mass with the deacon to get any last minute instructions.
Before you come to Mass: Please plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early. Before you leave home ask every member of your family to wash their hands. Everyone is expected to wear a facial mask inside the church, Holy Family Hall and Ministry Center. Children under 3 years old do not have to wear a mask. Be aware that there will be no nursery available for small children.
When you arrive: Only 160-190 can be seated in the church. Everyone is expected to respect the 6 ft. safe zone between you/your family and others. You will be greeted at the door by a volunteer and given instructions. You will be asked to sanitize your hands when you enter and as you leave. An usher will help to find an open pew for you or your family. Once the sanctuary is filled, the Holy Family Hall will be set up for overflow. We will stream the Mass to HFH and a deacon will be present to lead the worship and provide Holy Communion at the appropriate time. NO visiting, gathering or seating is allowed in the Narthex before, during or after Mass except for families with crying or disruptive children. Once Mass has started, the side doors by the chapel and Holy Family Hall will be closed and you will have to enter by the main front doors. Those side doors will be re-opened at dismissal.
Music, responses and readings: There will be no missalettes available. Singing by the congregation is not advisable. A cantor and musician will provide music.
The collection for donations: Donations will not be up taken at the usual time of the offertory. Instead, collection baskets will be placed by the doors of the sanctuary for you to give your tithe. You are asked to do that as your leave after Mass. If there are any special collections or if you want to make a donation for a specific purpose please place those in an envelope and mark them accordingly. Everyone is encouraged to sign up for electronic giving on the parish website.
Communion: The ushers will do as they usually do and indicate when you should exit from your pew for Communion. There will only be single lines instead of the normal double lines. Please remember that everyone is expected to respect the 6 ft. safe zone. If you are not going to Communion and someone in your pew want to go, you must exit the pew, step back six ft. and then return to your seat. No one can be allowed to step past a seated person. There will be places six ft. apart marked on the floor when you come up for Communion. Everyone is asked to please receive the Eucharist in the hand. If you receive Communion on your tongue the Minister of Communion must stop, place the paten on the altar and purify their hands before Communion can continue. If your hand inadvertently touches the hand of the Minster of Communion then again they must stop, place the paten on the altar and purify their hands before Communion can continue.
At the dismissal: The ushers will dismiss each pew one by one so that everyone can respect the 6 ft. safe zone. Your patience and cooperation is essential. After Mass please exit the church building. If you wish to visit with members of your church family simply do that outdoors.
Communion at home: For those persons or families, who are unable to come to Mass, Communion can be brought to you at home or a member of your family can be given special permission by Fr. David to bring communion home. In order to get this permission, you must go through a short training session. Please contact the parish office if you wish to either have Communion brought to your home or if you wish to go through the training to bring Communion to your home.
Bathrooms: can be used only for emergencies and absolute necessities. They will not be cleaned and disinfected until Monday morning.
No meetings of 10 or more are allowed. There will be no youth group, bible study, faith formation or Sunday school meetings.
The Adoration Chapel will re-open Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Only 4 person will allowed in the chapel at the same time, and this must be strictly followed. No small children will be allowed in the chapel at this time.
Volunteers: if you are willing to assist as a greeter, usher or with disinfecting the sanctuary please contact the parish office to let us know. We will need a lot of extra hands to make this work smoothly for everyone.
Coming together again for worship as a parish family makes me so very happy. You have all been very much missed. To see your faces and hear your voices in prayer at Mass will give me so much joy and will be such a blessing for us all. Please contact the parish office if you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. David Graham, Pastor