Many of you will have seen the White House press briefing on Friday 22 May at which the President made it clear that he expected places of Worship to resume services immediately. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who forwarded this news to me. It is indeed an encouraging sign! However at the time of writing the parish of St. Michael the Archangel has not received any indication of a relaxation in the rules/guidelines which would allow for the public celebration of Holy Mass and other sacraments and therefore the parish will remain closed to all public events until clarification/permission has been received from the Diocese.
That being said the news of Friday’s announcement will surely encourage Church leaders to adopt a more flexible approach to re-opening and this intention should be kept in our prayers particularly with the Holy season of Pentecost so nearly upon us.
In anticipation of a rapid move into the amber phase in the next few weeks I would like to set out the pastoral plan for the resumption of public prayer and sacraments, including the procedures for the distribution of Holy Communion.
As soon as the Diocese has given its permission to enter the amber phase the parish will re-open albeit with a limited seating capacity and with strict social distancing measures in place. Please only attend if you are healthy and are prepared to follow social distancing and other measures.
It must be noted that during the amber phase the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days remains dispensed. Hence in the absence of any legal requirement to attend on Sundays the Pastor has taken the decision to offer two Low Masses on Saturdays and two Low Mass on Sundays in order to divide the parish into four equal groups based on the number of registered parishioners.
Therefore when, and only when, an announcement has been made re-opening the parish, members with last names included within each group are welcome to attend public Masses at the times stated.
The Mass times will be as follows:
Saturday 8:00am (Group 1 for family names A—D)
Saturday 10:00am (Group 2 for family names E—L)
Sunday 8:00am (Group 3 for family names M—R)
Sunday 10:00am (Group 4 for family names S—Z)
To reduce movement around the church Holy Communion will be distributed 15minutes before each Mass. Please follow the Servers instruction during the distribution as this will be different from usual. Holy Mass will then follow and should be used as a Thanksgiving after the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Please note that it is impossible to completely guard against virus transmission during the distribution of Holy Communion. If you are elderly, in poor health or have an underlying condition effected by Covid-19 please consider abstaining from Holy Communion at this time. All parishioners are reminded that they receive Holy Communion and attend Mass at their own risk and the potential for inflection is high.
The capacity of the Church has been significantly reduced. The altar Servers will be keeping a close watch on the numbers attending each public event. Therefore please only attend as scheduled. The Servers are authorized to refuse entry to the church if the safe seating capacity is achieved and/or the attendee is not wearing a mask. Please therefore be considerate and wear a mask, arrive on time and leave immediately after Mass. Parishioners are instructed not to congregate outside the Church or in the vestibule, which will remain off limits even to nursing parents. The church hall will also remain out of bounds except for bathroom use. After each Mass the Servers will wipe down the pews, door handles and common areas. The Church will be professional disinfected before the next weekends Masses.
Weekday Masses will resume at the same time but with no group restrictions. Finally, thank you for your prayers and patience during the last few months. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The light of the Pascal Candle which has only being extinguished to allow Our Lord to return to Heaven in order to send the Holy Ghost to us at Pentecost. May the coming Sprit find our Faith intact, ready to do His will. May God Bless you.
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