Reopening Ss. Robert & William Church
I write this letter on the 17th Anniversary of my Ordination as a priest. I am not sure 17 years ago if you would have told me we would have no public Masses for two months I would have ever believed you! Crazy times! But the Lord provides and brings us through the messiness of our lives. And so, it is with much JOY, HOPE, PEACE & FAITH that I share with you that public Masses will start again on Tuesday, May 26. These plans are cautious and fluid to adjust to the realities of still being amid the pandemic. A few guiding principles:
• The best way to protect yourself is still to stay at home, especially those of you with health issues or in a vulnerable age group. Moreover, if you are a caregiver it is probably best to stay at home.
• The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is still dispensed and will be for the foreseeable future. Therefore, while all are welcome to come to Mass, this is a choice and a choice that should be made wisely.
Daily Mass, Monday – Saturday will be at 11 am. We will have a 4 pm Saturday Vigil Mass and 11 am and 6 pm Sunday Mass. The 6 pm Sunday Mass will be outside, weather permitting. The 4 pm and 11 am will be live-streamed. Assuming all goes well…we will work towards adding a second Sunday morning Mass. Moreover, we will work towards restoring weekday Masses back to pre-pandemic schedule. The goal will be to have a full schedule by September 1, assuming all continues to go well.
SRW Mass Protocols:
Entrance: We will use the center doors of the main church entrance. Doors will be propped open and left open. All other doors will remain locked and only used for exiting.
Seating: We will close off every other pew in all sections. As you enter for weekend Mass, you will be given a card with a seat assignment. Two staff members will help you to find your seat. One section will be designated for families. We will mark pews with decals to indicate seat numbers. People in each pew will be kept six feet apart. People living in the same household do not need to distance. For Weekday Masses, the side sections will be roped off. People can seat themselves in the center section. Only use “open” pews.
Location of Sanitizer/Masks: They will be located at the entrance. There will be four stations. Each will have masks, sanitizer, and tissue.
Masks: Masks are required for everyone aged 8 and over. Children under 8 are encouraged but not required to wear masks. Parishioners are encouraged to bring their own. However, we will have some available. Please note that the priest, deacon, and ministers will be wearing masks except when in the sanctuary. Also, if you choose for your child (under 8) not to wear a mask, please work to assure they do not go near other parishioners.
Worship Aides: Worship aides will not be used and have been removed. Our music ministry will lead the singing. There will only be a pianist and a cantor.
Offertory/Collection: There will be no offertory procession and collection. A basket will be set-up at the entrance to receive offertory donations. The bread and wine will be placed on the altar prior to the start of Mass.
Sign of Peace: The sign of peace has been eliminated.
Holy Communion: The priest, deacon, and a staff member will take Holy Communion to people walking between pews. People will NOT process up. They will wear masks when distributing and carry hand sanitizer. People are encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand, but we will respect a person’s desire to receive on the tongue. Please make sure to stick your tongue all the way out.
Exiting: We will designate an exit for each of the four sections. Please follow the presider’s instructions. Please do not congregate after Mass in the church. If you do outside, please respect social distancing.
Sanitizing/Cleaning: Our staff will rigorously clean and sanitize the church building after each Mass.
Outdoor Mass: The above protocol will be followed. People will be asked to bring their own seating. Staff will greet people as they come and encourage them to sit 6 feet apart.
As you can see, Mass will not have the same feel that we have become accustomed to. But we must remember that for the health and safety of all we will need to follow these protocols for the time being. We must be flexible and cautious at the same time. We need to remember that Mass is not about us but about us worshiping and receiving Jesus Christ in the Word and in the Eucharist. I have no doubt we can do this! And my hope and prayer are that we will be “back to normal” soon and very soon. Be assured of my prayers and I humbly ask the same as we work to implement these protocols. Please check our website (srweuclid.cc) and FACEBOOK page for the latest updates.
Finally, we will offer weekly Confessions every Saturday from Noon to 1 pm, behind the screen only.
I love you so much and so appreciate your love and support during this time. I thank you for your immense generosity to the parish with your treasure! You are all just so AWESOME! I cannot wait to see you.
Fr. John Betters