Dear Parishioners & friends of St. Mary’s,
It was nice to be able to celebrate Mass with some of you on Memorial Day; it truly was a blessed moment for all who could participate. We are working hard to be ready to open the church this weekend. We have to complete a safety checklist put out by the state before we receive permission to celebrate public Mass in the church. For safety reasons there will be no hymnals or missalettes in the pews and no singing except for our cantors. You may want to bring the Sunday readings with you either on your cellphone or with a publication such as Magnificat.
Once you return to Mass you will notice that things will be different in order to maintain the health of everybody. The Sunday dispensation releasing you from attending Mass on Sundays is still in effect. Those who are at high risk, such as, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, those with pulmonary problems, and those who live with a high risk individual are encouraged to continue to stay isolated. If you show any signs of illness, such as, a fever, a cough, sneezing, runny nose, even allergy symptoms you should not come to Mass out of respect for the other parishioners. If I show any symptoms and we are unable to get a priest, Masses will be canceled. The best way to stay informed of any last minute changes is to check the parish website and/or your email.
For those who are able to attend Mass, you must wear a mask and you should consider bringing a lawn chair in case the church is full (we are working on having speakers outdoors). When the church is full we will be unable to admit anyone else. We have to maintain social distance and can only utilize every third pew. We will have ushers guiding you to your seats. We will be using the center pews to accommodate families, and the side pews and the chapel for couples and individuals in order to maximize the number of people in attendance.
The distribution of Holy Communion will take place at the end of Mass. It will begin in the church from the center aisle. One pew will come forward at a time maintaining social distance. For instance, the right side will come forward then the left side and we will alternate pews proceeding to the back. Then we will alternate the side pews, working from the back of the church to the front. All those receiving Holy Communion will do so from the center aisle. After receiving Holy Communion, you should exit the side doors of the church and do your post Communion meditation in your car. You should not congregate outside the church after leaving. Those in the chapel will follow a similar procedure but should exit via the side door (handicapped entrance) of the main church. Children who have prepared to receive First Holy Communion in May should receive Holy Communion. It is hoped we can have some kind of ceremony for them in the fall. There are about eight children who have not made their First Penance. I will try to set up a time to hear their confession or you may contact me and set up an appointment.
We hope to begin daily Mass this coming Monday, June first. Once we are up and running, we will devise a way to provide Holy Communion for those who would like to receive but are unable to attend Mass right now due to health concerns. Along with this we will establish a schedule for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which will have to take place in the sacristy of the church to maintain social distance.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented health crisis in our country and in the world. We continue to pray for all of you, especially those who are afflicted with this virus. We also pray for an end to the virus. Take care and stay safe.
Sincerely yours in Christ,