Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Masses

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Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Masses at St. Theresa Catholic Church:

•The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues in effect until the 30th of June of this year. This is especially the case for those of advanced years, those with compromised immune systems, and those living in paralyzing fear of infection with COVID-19. Those who choose to attend Mass should prudently follow the provided guidelines and—as always—use caution, reason, and common sense when in public places in times such as these. Most notably, they should keep their hands away from their face if they have touched any public surface and have not washed/sanitized their hands.

•In accord with CDC guidelines, masks are strongly encouraged in public places. However, no one will be barred entrance to the church or ostracized for not wearing a mask. Obviously, mask must be removed for Holy Communion and it is best that it be done right before approaching the minister to receive the Sacred Host.

•The doors of the church will be propped open so that people do not have to touch door handles.

•Hand-sanitizer will be available at all of the entrances and attendees are encouraged to avail themselves of it upon entering and leaving the church.

•A physical distance of 6 feet or more is strongly encouraged between all non-family members. Please be mindful of this when finding a seat in the church, when coming up for Holy Communion and when leaving the church. If you are not concerned to observe this, please be mindful that others are. Respect other people’s “space”.

•There is concern from health officials with regard to singing. The music will be led by a cantor but the congregation will not be invited to pick up hymnals or sing along. Please use this time to practice actual participation by uniting your minds and hearts to the Sacrifice of the Altar even though you may not be able to sing along as normally done. The most important participation is that of the mind and heart. The Lord is offering us an opportunity to grow in this actual—and deeper—participation.

•Please do not extend or hold hands during the Our Father.

•For the sign of peace, family members may be kissed or embraced as usual. A simple bow of the head to non-family members around you will more than suffice. Please do not hold out your hand for a handshake. Do not wave at the people around you. Do not call out to people around you. And PLEASE do not give the two finger “sign of peace” (this also includes the Star Trek “live long and prosper” sign…)—just a simple bow of the head suffices and is dignified and in keeping with the reverence called for by the Holy Mass.

•The procedure for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion will be explained and demonstrated before Mass. Please make sure to arrive no less than 15 minutes prior to the beginning of Mass for the next few weekends. We will be giving instructions (possibly altering and updating procedures as we adjust to the practicalities of the current situation) before Mass for the next few weekends until we get used to these temporary changes.

•Parishioners are asked not to remain in the church to socialize or congregate in the vestibule after Mass. The same goes before Mass. We understand that these have been difficult times and we all miss seeing and talking to each other. Instead of visiting inside, however, we encourage parishioners to go outside—weather permitting—and visit with fellow parishioners, conscious of the importance of maintaining the six foot physical distance with non-family members.

•Last, but certainly not least…USE COMMON SENSE. If you feel you might be “endangering” yourself or others by coming to Mass, take advantage of the dispensation provided till June 30th and stay home. If you come to Mass, observe the provided health guidelines and you will be just fine. And MOST IMPORTANTLY remember these words: “In the world you will have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33