As I announced at the end of last Sunday’s live streamed Mass, the Diocese of Cleveland has established dates and guidelines to resume public celebrations of Mass. With you yourself stepping up to fill some new volunteering needs, we can do this well and safely. Please carefully read through the following so you know what I need everyone to do in general, and what I need help with.
Our usual Mass schedule will return to normal on Monday May 25 with the 8:30am weekday Mass. That weekend we will have the usual 4:00pm Saturday, 9:00am Sunday, and 11:00am Sunday Masses. Saturday confessions will resume on Saturday June 6 at 3:00pm.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues to be dispensed: no one has to come to Mass right now. If you are in a high risk category from age or underlying condition, please consider staying home. The 11:00am Sunday Mass will continue to be live streamed, and we will also stream the weekday Masses. Remember: we’ve avoided a rush on the hospitals but the coronavirus still exists and there is no vaccine. One person can have it with no symptoms, while another person might be put on a ventilator or worse. That’s why we are taking all the measures below. We need to protect each other, and we need to protect ourselves.
The parish office will reopen on Monday June 1 but with limited staff; most staff will continue to be working from home. You are strongly encouraged to contact us by phone or email rather than coming to the office. And you can always make use of the mail slot to the right of the door for any paperwork or envelopes.
What I need everyone to be attentive to:
• Check your temperature and other symptoms before coming to church. Stay home if you have any symptoms even if you don’t think it’s anything to worry about. If you are sick with something other than coronavirus, stay home.
• Masks are required. If you get here and realize you forgot to bring one, we will have a limited supply and will give you one for free. If you don’t take it and or refuse to wear it, you will be asked to leave.
• Maintain a six foot separation from anyone you don’t live with. Pews will be marked off so that every family has six feet between any other family. In the church we will only be able to seat 27 families of up to three or four adults. The social hall and gym will be overflow areas with additional seating and spots for larger families. Those locations will have live video and audio of the church sanctuary and will have communion brought to them.
• The glass doors between the church and school will be the only entrance. All other doors will be marked as exit only. We will make temporary handicap parking spots in the parking lot.
• Volunteers will direct you to a pew or, if overflow is needed, to the social hall or gym. I’m sorry you can’t sit in your usual spot.
• You can make a contribution to the offertory collection as you come in. We won’t have the baskets coming down the aisle during Mass or any other sort of collection.
• It is strongly, strongly preferred that you receive communion in the hand and not on the tongue. If you are going to receive on the tongue, you must wait and come and the end of the communion line. In the likely event that the person distributing communion touches your tongue or mouth, they will stop before the next person receives and sanitize their hands. The Precious Blood will not be distributed.
• There will be no bulletins, pamphlets, votive candles, holy water, or other things. The goal right now is to keep everything flowing so that we can keep a safe distance. The bulletin will continue to be available on our website.
• Volunteers will sanitize surfaces after each Mass. Anything that is a common contact point such as door handles, pews, and bathroom fixtures will be wiped down. You are encouraged to use the restroom at home before coming, and anything else you can do that helps you to avoid touching things, opening doors, etc.
What I need help with:
• Volunteers to sanitize after Mass. I cannot overemphasize how important it is that many of you volunteer to do this. We want enough help to do this thoroughly but also reasonably quickly, especially with only an hour in between the Sunday Masses. We will provide all the cleaning supplies. I want to have enough volunteers to get a rotating schedule going so that those who do step up don’t have to commit to every week. The number of people we need will increase if we are using the social hall or the gym or both for overflow. If you are able bodied and can manage a bucket and rag, you can do this. Sign up here.
• Volunteers to help usher before Mass. We of course have our usual ushers but we will need a few more. If you can be friendly and point someone in a direction, you can do this. Heck, with the mask on you don’t even have to smile. Sign up here.
• Volunteers to monitor the live feed in overflow areas. In all likelihood you won’t have to do a single thing. But if the feed cuts out I need someone who can get up and fix it. We’ll show you the setup. If you can connect a computer to a second monitor you can do this. Sign up here.
• Liturgical minister will receive detailed instructions from me in the weeks ahead. We will not be using altar servers.
And now just some pastoral thoughts:
I know this will not be your normal experience of Mass. My guess is that things won’t be normal until we have a vaccine, but I really don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things right now. I don’t know if we should be resuming public Masses or if we should have waited longer. I don’t know if the church will be filled with everyone desperate to be back or if a lot of people will be cautious and waiting longer. Literally as I was typing up this email I got more instructions from the Diocese (we won’t be singing at Mass), and I’m supposed to get more instructions on other things, and I’m sure some of it will change. And don’t get me started on how impossible it is to make a budget for the next fiscal year.
And that’s ok. That’s what life is right now. Frustration will build if we only look at ourselves and what we want to know but don’t, or what we want to do but can’t. But if we can look at each other and understand that we are a community, that there is a lot of “I don’t know” right now for everyone, and trust that we are figuring this out together and making sacrifices for each other… then I think the frustration gets a little lighter.
Hold strong to the faith.