Dear Parishioners & friends of St. Mary’s,
We all received encouraging news on Monday when Governor Baker announced we could begin phase one of reopening stores and businesses. It was surprising and welcomed news that worship sites are included in this first phase with up to 40% occupancy, although social distancing requirements will keep us far below this figure.
Right away we received telephone calls to see if we would be having Mass on Ascension Thursday and/or are we going to have Mass beginning this coming weekend. Unfortunately, the answer is no to both questions. We have much work to do in order to meet all the guidelines required by the state and local government, as well as by the Archdiocese. In order to begin our Masses, we have to receive approval and show how we have met all the guidelines. It is self-regulating but I will need to sign off on these guidelines once they have been met. The Regional Episcopal Vicar will then have to give us his okay to begin. We hope to be ready to offer Masses on the weekend of May 30th & 31st.
Some of the challenges we face are: Configuring the pews and where people can sit and how they are going to move without a counter-flow of people. You have probably noticed in the supermarket the arrows pointing you which way to go to maintain the proper flow of people. We will be doing that as well. To achieve the necessary social distance, we can only use every third pew. In addition, we have to figure out how to manage the distribution of Holy Communion.
To date we have had a few meetings going over all of these requirements. We have participated in a number of webinars being offered by the Pastoral Center in Braintree. The biggest hurdle we face is sanitizing the church after each Mass. We need lay volunteers who are healthy and able to take on this ministry for a time. We also need lay volunteers to keep track of the number of people attending Mass and guiding them to their seats. We are going to try and group families in the center pews, which can accommodate more people since families are not required to maintain social distance. Couples or individuals will be guided to the side pews. You will need to wear masks, unless a person has a health condition that does not permit this (children under two should not wear a mask and parents of those between the age of two and five will use their own discretion concerning their children).
Once we have a team of lay volunteers we will provide training for all of them. Please contact the parish office if you would like to help us in this vital work. Once we have this in place we should be ready to go forward. If this gets delayed or we have an inadequate number of lay volunteers the start date for Masses will be delayed. Continue to check our website for updates and additional announcements. I should have more information for you next week.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank all those who have continued to send in their weekly offering to the parish. Some have increased their offering and others have made donations as well. Your help has been essential in keeping St. Mary’s operational. If you would like to make your offerings to the parish and have not yet done so, the best way is through electronic giving. You may also send your offering to the parish office or you can leave your offering in the floor-mounted black deposit box in the vestibule of the main church.
One final note, we will be having our annual Memorial Day Mass at the old St. Mary’s cemetery at 9 am this coming Monday, weather permitting. We will need to maintain social distancing and wear masks but we should be able to do this safely.
I look forward to seeing all of you as soon as is safely possible; I miss you. You have all been in my prayers and I thank you for all your prayers and the concern you have expressed regarding my well-being. Stay safe.
God bless you,