As I mentioned in last week’s bulletin at announced at Mass:
The 6:30pm Mass on Saturday and the 10:30pm Mass on Sunday will be for our Confirmation and First Communion Candidates and their families. We regret that because of attendance limitations due to the COVID-19 crisis and imposed by civil and church authority that we are unable to make this event open to all who might want to attend from the public. These celebrations will be webcast live and afterwards on-demand on the parish Facebook channel.
For our parishioners, I make the following plea: If you regularly attend the 6:30pm Saturday Mass or the 10:30am Sunday Mass, please join us for Mass at the same times in the Parish Hall (cafeteria). You may park on the south side of the campus and around the ground-level doors to facilitate easy entrance. There will be a simultaneous Mass offered in the parish hall for our parishioners who are not involved with the Confirmation-First Communion celebration. We ask you, PLEASE, do not simply go to another Mass time as those times in prior weeks have been FULL. I do not want to add the layer of complexity of requiring people to “reserve” seats for attendance, and I also don’t want to have to turn people away due to attendance restrictions– we will do everything we can to accommodate those who want to go to Mass. That being said, if we have all the ‘regular’ people from 6:30pm or 10:30am Mass trying to attend at 4;00pm or 8:00am, we will have no other choice but to ask people to go elsewhere, or at a different time. I am very aware that this is far from optimal. We are doing our best not to confuse people with additional times or alternate off-site Masses at this time. Your cooperation and consideration is very much appreciated.
The 4;00pm and 8:00am Masses will be held in the church, as usual.
Once again, and as we continue to remind our parishioners: the obligation to attend Mass remains suspended for the foreseeable future. If you are not feeling fully healthy, if you have been exposed to someone who has been sick, or if you are in a particularly-vulnerable demographic who should avoid catching this disease, please stay home and take advantage of the various opportunities to pray through the broadcast media Such participation does not replace the experience of being at Mass, but it can help one to ‘keep God’s day holy’, and to become better-disposed to the graces of Mass when we are all able to return.
Lots of energy is also being spent on the debate about mask-wearing vs. not in public. Indeed, popular and political opinions seem to be changing on this issue, but the science and guidance remains mixed. Our current instructions from the Diocese of Springfield, which have been based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control is that mask-wearing is not necessary when appropriate social distance (6 feet or more) is maintained or people from the same household are sharing the same “space”. Transient passes into the personal space of others should not necessitate the wearing of masks, but anything more than a few moments in the personal space of others may benefit from the protection of face coverings for all involved. Parishioners are advised and recommended to have face coverings available for their use and to be considerate of those around them who perhaps feel very strongly about this issue one way or the other. Face coverings in and of themselves are not sufficient to guarantee safety against this virus, even if everyone were wearing them ‘correctly’, so please also remember to practice outstanding hand-hygiene, including being extra careful at controlling coughs and sneezes (whether masked or not!) so that potential aerosolized particles do not spread beyond your own ‘personal space’ or contaminate your hands and everything else you touch. We want to be part of the ‘solution’ and not part of the ‘problem’ for our community as a family of faith. Please use your best judgement and be attentive to your own personal habits and those of your children. Again, if the risk you perceive is too great for you or your family, please consider the opportunity to remain at home.
–Fr. Tom Donovan