Mass with Social Distancing
Over the past few weeks during the Coronavirus Pandemic I stated several times that when we resume public masses, the way in which we “Gather to Worship” was going to be different. At that time I did not know what that “difference” was going to be, but I knew a change was coming. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would be the same, but the way in which we “Gather to Pray” would have some unique modifications. Some of you may not like the changes, but know that I respect your opinion.
Nevertheless, as the Shepherd of St. Frances Cabrini, it is my job to make sure ALL are kept safe. I, along with the Bishop and Priests of the Diocese of Venice, had an honest conversation. Many thoughts were heard and shared. There were agreements and disagreements, but in the end we all agreed to the layout of this transitionary stage of gathering in public as a community once again.
I cannot stress enough that I know some of you may not like these changes. But these changes are not suggestions. They are established rules to make sure we are all kept safe. It takes one person to infect a whole multitude. Please keep that in mind and let us be thankful we can open our doors to worship once again. Because if we are not careful, our doors could close once more due to a second swell in the pandemic.
How temporary this transitionary stage will be is unclear. But we are blessed to gather once again to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in that we should rejoice!
Transitionary Directives for Gathering as a Community for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
A. The Obligation to attend Sunday Mass is dispensed through Sunday, June 28th. It is always a possibility as we move forward and watch how our gatherings affect the Covid-19 pandemic that it could be lengthened. Currently it stands at June 28th.
B. Seating will be maintained as it was when we first opened the church for prayer. Please look at and study the pictures as described below.
C. Everyone MUST wear a facemask. There are NO exceptions to this rule except for small and infant children. Parents, please be aware and prepare yourselves for this. As the oldest of 8 children spanning a 25-year age gap between the youngest and myself, I am fully aware of the hardship this presents. Consider doing a project where your children make a “special mask” for church. I will also ask the adults of the parish to be considerate to families of small children. You remember the struggle of having small children at mass. Let us be kind to those families with small children as we remind ourselves that they are the next generation of our Faith.
* St. Frances Cabrini will NOT be providing masks*
Liturgical Directives during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
1. Shaking hands during the Sign of Peace (which was always optional) will be discontinued.
2. Holding hands during the “Our Father” Prayer will also be discontinued.
3. Since most of us will be wearing masks during the Liturgy, our music will be mostly instrumental, meaning that at this time we will not be using the choir or cantor. At this time I will continue to do the Mass as many of you have seen online. I will be in a mask coming into Mass, distributing Communion and leaving. For the time being we will have no Lectors or Altar Servers. With the Altar a safe distance away, I am able to remove my mask and proclaim the Word, give the Homily and pray the Prayers of Petitions.
4. Eucharistic Ministers will wash their hands in the sacristy during the Our Father and before bringing Communion. They will also be masked. Each Extraordinary Minister will go down the empty pew in front that has been identified for “Social Distancing” concerns. Receiving on the hand is preferred at this time.
5. Finally, collection baskets will be placed near the door at the beginning and end of Mass and guarded by two volunteers.
6. Please do not go over and shake the hand of your neighbor and start a conversation with them. If you wish to do this, then save the conversation for the parking lot. Please keep a safe distance between you and your neighbor.