Details for Returning to Church

After the Suspension of Public Worship in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Dear Parishioners,

Since the Suspension of Public Worship, beginning on the weekend of March 14-15, we all have endured a season of our lives that has carried a great many challenges.  But we have faced these challenges together, as a community of believers always united in the Body of Christ.  Now, I have the great privilege of sharing with you that this coming weekend, the weekend of June 13-14, our parish community will be able to reunite physically within the walls of our church building, to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

This is not the end of the challenges that we will have to endure together.  Not the least of these challenges will be knowing that many members of our parish community will still be at home, as the very real concerns regarding the pandemic are still quite present in our society.  For this reason, we understand and respect that many will not yet be rejoining us in person, especially those who are most at risk.  We must all continue to be mindful of our fellow parishioners and other members of our local community, in our prayers and in our outreach through various forms of media.  We will continue to find every way we can to remain connected, as we honor each person’s choice to return physically to the parish community, whenever they determine it is most appropriate for themselves and their family.

For those of us who will be returning to the Church for Mass, Adoration, Reconciliation and Private Prayer, vigilant adherence to all safety guidelines will be needed from everyone present, in order to prioritize the health and well-being of all.  These will be significant, may be burdensome, and will likely take time and multiple visits to familiarize oneself with.  I want to thank everyone in advance for your cooperation with these guidelines.  Things will be very different from what we are used to for a number of months.  There are many things you will need to be aware of.  It will be necessary for all to review the further guidelines found in this mailing.  First, here are the Top 7 Things to Know About Returning to Indoor Mass:

  1. There is still currently NO OBLIGATION to attend Sunday Mass.  Bishop Jenky has left his dispensation from the Sunday obligation to Holy Mass in place, while the pandemic remains a present danger in our society.  There are still many parishioners who may, for good reason, consider it prudent for them to remain home for their safety and the safety of others.  Do you have a fever or flu-like symptoms? Have you recently traveled out of the country?  Have you been exposed to someone with COVID-19?  Those who show signs of risk should not enter the Church and stay at home.  Those who are elderly or vulnerable are encouraged to remain at home.

  2. Since Social Distancing (remaining 6 feet from anyone who is not a part of your household) is a requirement, each Mass will only be able to accommodate about 20-25% of our usual capacity.

  3. The Church will need to be cleaned and sanitized after each use. 

  4. To accommodate the above points, the weekend Mass Schedule will be as follows until further notice (please note that an additional Mass has been added and that some Mass times have been changed): Saturday - 4 PM & 6 PM; Sunday - 7:30, 9:30 & 11:30 AM.

  5. EVERY PARISHIONER is asked to help us manage this situation by signing up for the Mass you plan to attend. It is our goal to make the sign-up process as simple as possible for you and also to plan in such a way as to try to still be able to accommodate those who find the sign-up process difficult. To sign up you can go to this website: https://bit.ly/2Ycp4rC or call the office at 815-879-0181 and leave a message or send an email stlparishoffice@gmail.com If you sign up by phone or email, please provide your name, the number of people in your family attending, and the Mass time you want to attend.

  6. There are a variety of further guidelines (found below and on our website) that everyone will want to familiarize themselves with beforehand, such as the requirement that everyone must be willing and prepared to wear a mask at some points during your time in the building, such as entry, exit and other times passing close to members of other households.  These guidelines will require cooperation from everyone and should not be considered optional as they are part of how we are helping to keep one another safe. 

  7. While our parish staff will attempt to take appropriate precautions consistent with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guests should understand that they assume the risk of contracting COVID-19 anytime they enter a public space since such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.    

 

 

Further Guidelines:

 

Things you will notice or need to know about the space in our church…

 

  • Not all entrances will be usable.  The three main Park Avenue entrances will be inaccessible.  This helps to control the flow of movement in the church and to enable the volunteers to safely assist everyone.

  • Volunteers will greet you at the door and will assist you in finding a seat that allows for social distance. These are parishioners who have generously given of their time to assist in your experience at Mass.  Please be kind and respectful of them if any difficulties should arise.

  • These volunteers will also have masks available for anyone who has not brought one of their own.  All must remember that the precaution of a mask is primarily to protect those around you and will not be considered optional at certain points.  However, they do not need to be worn throughout the Mass, while you are sufficiently socially distant from members of other households.  They MUST be worn upon entry, exit and in passing moments such as the line for Holy Communion.  Parishioners should dispose of paper masks on their own once they are back in their vehicles.

  • Pews have been marked, such that the pews in which we cannot seat parishioners at this time have been blocked with yellow tape. 

  • Yellow tape also marks the spots where people are to stand in the line for Holy Communion.

  • Signs can be found throughout the Church with helpful information and reminders regarding these various guidelines.

  • Bottles of hand sanitizer should be found at all entrances, as well as at the front of the Communion line.  Please use them upon entry and before approaching the altar rail for Holy Communion.  Please notify a volunteer if they are missing or need refilling.

  • The votive candles may be temporarily removed until arrangements can be made for a safer shared usage of them.

  • No Holy Water will be found in the fonts, but those who have brought their own bottle may find some in the back of the Church.

  • Bulletins can be found at the entrances but will not be handed to you.

  • Collection baskets will be found by the entrances.

  • Hymnals have been removed from pews, as the sharing of these kinds of materials would make cleaning and sanitizing unmanageable. 

  • The Missalettes have been moved closer to the doors, as they are not to be “borrowed” as they normally would be.  Rather, parishioners may take them (while supplies last).  They may not be returned or left behind.  If found, they will need to be discarded.  “You Touch It, You Take It” signs can be found near them, as well as near devotional materials on the information tables.  Remember, it is never acceptable to leave materials on these tables without permission, which is of the utmost importance at this time.

  • Sign-ups will not be able to be put on these tables either, as we ought not share pens and paper.

  • Our book of prayer intentions has been removed.  In place of writing a prayer request in the book, you may insert a prayer request (written using your own pen and paper) into the collection basket.  If you would like parishioners to pray for your intention, you may write “for the prayer chain” before your prayer request.

  • The bathrooms will be available for Mass (not for private prayer), but the water fountains will NOT be available. 

 

Things you will notice or need to know about the Liturgy of the Mass…

 

  • As stated above, please note the modified weekend Mass schedule.

  • Also already stated, please note that all are asked to sign up for the Mass you plan to attend, noting the number of people in your family who will be attending. Sign-up Genius will be used and have some flexibility for walk-ins.  To sign up online, please go to https://bit.ly/2Ycp4rC.  Please note, the website asks for an email, but it is not required. People can also have others sign them up, so that parishioners may assist one another.  They may also call the parish office at 815-879-0181 and leave a voicemail or send an email to stlparishoffice@gmail.com to sign-up, if that is an easier option.  Please be sure to include the number of people attending with you and the Mass time you want. The sign-up process will be flexible but is meant to help prevent us from having to turn anyone away.  Signing up guarantees your seat.

  • All are asked to arrive for Mass, no earlier than 15 minutes before Mass time, in order to allow for sufficient cleaning.  The one exception will be for the 4 PM Mass, as some may have arrived at 3 PM for Confession (see Reconciliation Guidelines). 

  • There will be no sign of peace.

  • There will be no regular collection, but you may place your donation in the collection baskets found at the entrances.  We are so grateful for your sacrifice and support.

  • There will be no procession of the gifts.

  • Throughout the celebration of the Mass, all will need to be mindful of participating with more of a spirit of listening, as we must ask that all either refrain from singing and reciting aloud or do so with a softer voice than usual.  While we ordinarily might praise loud and enthusiastic singing and recitation of the Mass responses, we should take this as an opportunity to recall that our active participation in the liturgy is primarily about the movement of the heart, being prayerfully drawn into the mystery of the Mass. ***

  • Procession for Holy Communion will be single file and will split in two directions at the front.

  • Reception will take place at the altar rail.  You may receive standing or kneeling, according to your preference. Thus, you should be mindful of the fact that only the East (“Joseph”) side of the altar rail has a pad for kneeling.

  • Those in outside aisle pews will process into the center aisle with their own line.

  • All are asked to be mindful of avoiding placing your hand on the pews used by your fellow parishioners, to the best of your ability.

  • You may simply briefly pull your mask up or down to receive Holy Communion, then replace it.

  • The faithful are strongly encouraged to receive Communion in the hand and to carefully avoid any physical contact with the minister’s hand when receiving.  The minister will be periodically using hand sanitizer, particularly after any reception by tongue or incidental hand contact.

  • Those who do not wish to come forward for Holy Communion are encouraged to remain in place and make an Act of Spiritual Communion.  The Act of Spiritual Communion will continue to be prayed at each Mass, in solidarity with those who are currently not receiving and out of a desire to deepen our own Eucharistic devotion.

  • The Precious Blood will not be distributed to the congregation.       

 

Things you will notice and need to know regarding parish life…

 

  • We will continue to offer a few opportunities for Outdoor Distribution of Holy Communion, at 5-5:15 PM on Saturday, 8:30-8:45 AM & 10:30-10:45 AM on Sunday at the Anderson St. entrance to the old school building.***

  • For an undetermined period, non-liturgical events and gatherings will be relatively few, as each one requires the same degree of careful precaution.

  • Additional volunteers will be needed to assist with accomplishing all of these tasks, beyond simply the team who coordinates the efforts.

  • Not everyone will be able to volunteer for every task.  Those who know themselves to be at risk should not volunteer.  All volunteers must be able to strictly adhere to all of the guidelines regarding social distancing and face coverings, while carrying out their task.

  • All groups should be mindful of our inability to place sign-ups on the tables at this time.

 

Things you will need to know for private prayer inside the Church…

 

  • Periodic times will be available throughout the week in which the Church will be open for private prayer.  They are: M/Th: 9 AM - 2:30 PM; T/W: 9 AM - 1:30 PM, 3-8 PM; F: 9-1:30 PM.

  • The limitations in this schedule are necessary to allow for frequent cleaning.

  • All entrance is through the chapel entrance, but then proceeds into the main church.

  • All seating is to be in the main church.  The chapel is only to be used for family seating for Mass at this time.

  • Please do not occupy more than one pew for the entirety of your time of prayer.  This includes Confession times (below) in which no physical line will be formed.

  • Leave a “Used” Marker on your pew upon departure.

  • Social Distancing: always remain at least 6-feet from individuals of other households .

  • Please be prepared to wear a mask if any instance when social distancing (see above) becomes impossible should arise.

 

Things you will need to know for Reconciliation…

 

  • Reconciliation will be offered five times throughout the week.  They are… M/Th: 4:30-5 PM, T/W: 3-3:30 PM, Sa: 3-3:45 PM.

  • Saturday penitents should be signed up for the 4 PM Mass and should be seated in their seat for Mass (there will be no movement through a physical line).

  • The times available on M/Th are before a Mass and are intended for those attending that Mass, as the penitent should use the pew they will use for Mass.

  • The times available on T/W are during private prayer time and should similarly note the private prayer guidelines, regarding pew usage, etc.

  • At every Confession time, there will not be a movement through a physical line from one pew to another, as all should remain in place in their own pew, communicating respectfully with other parishioners to determine whose turn is next.

 

Things you may notice about our online presence (Facebook, YouTube, website)...

 

  • The first weekend Mass (4 PM Mass) will continue to be live-streamed on Facebook and remain on YouTube for later viewing by those not attending Mass.

  • Additional livestreams and videos will continue to be offered but may not always be daily.

  • Many videos that may be helpful for one’s devotional life at home remain on our YouTube channel and are conveniently organized into playlists to help you find something you may be looking for. 

  • We certainly encourage parishioners who are remaining at home to also use this time to explore the abundant resources found on FORMED.ORG

 

 

 

Parish Schedule:

(Private Prayer slots beginning on Tuesday, June 9; Mass & other liturgies on June 13)

Will be modified in the event of any funerals or special events, as each event requires a new cleaning.

 

Monday:

            9-2:30  Church Open for Private Prayer

2:30     Closed for midday cleaning

            4-5:45  Holy Hour, Rosary (4:30), Confessions (4:30) and Mass (5:15)*

            6:00     Closed for overnight cleaning

           

Tuesday:

            7:00     Mass and Rosary

            7:45     Closed for morning cleaning

            9-1:30  Church Open for Private Prayer

            1:30     Closed for midday cleaning

            3:00     Reconciliation**

            3-8       Church Open for Private Prayer

            8:00     Church closed for overnight cleaning

 

Wednesday:

            7:00     Mass and Rosary

            7:45     Closed for morning cleaning

            9-1:30  Church Open for Private Prayer

            1:30     Closed for midday cleaning

            3:00     Reconciliation

            3-8       Church Open for Private Prayer

            8:00     Church closed for overnight cleaning

 

Thursday:

9-2:30  Church Open for Private Prayer (beginning June 15th)

2:30     Closed for midday cleaning

            4-5:45  Holy Hour, Rosary (4:30), Confessions (4:30) and Mass (5:15)

            6:00     Closed for overnight cleaning

 

Friday:

            7:00     Mass and Rosary

            7:45     Closed for morning cleaning

            9-1:30  Church Open for Private Prayer

            1:30     Closed for overnight cleaning

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday:

            3:00     Reconciliation and Mass (4:00)***

5:00     Outdoor Distribution of Holy Communion at Anderson St. Entrance (15 min)

5:00     Church Closed for cleaning

            6:00     Mass

            7:00     Closed for cleaning

 

Sunday:

            7:30     Mass

                8:30       Outdoor Distribution of Holy Communion at Anderson St. Entrance (15 min)

            8:30     Closed for cleaning

            9:30     Mass

            9:30     Outdoor Distribution of Holy Communion at Anderson St. Entrance (15 min)

            10:30   Closed for cleaning

            11:30   Mass

12:30   Closed for cleaning

 

 

* Prayer events (such as Mass, Adoration, Rosary, Reconciliation) that are listed together as one scheduled event are so listed because seating must be the same for all parts of the one event.  You are welcome to come only for the later event (i.e. Mass or Rosary), but some of the seating will have already been claimed.

 

** For the foreseeable future, Reconciliation will take place in the St. Jerome Room.  Seats will be marked 6 feet or further from Father, either in front of him or behind (for anonymity).  Personal preparation is to take place in the Church, following guidelines for Private Prayer.  No line will be formed, as you must occupy the same seat the entire time. 

 

*** Anyone planning to go to Reconciliation on Saturday should sign-up for and plan to attend the 4 PM Mass.  Also, please be mindful of the required sign-up for all Saturday and Sunday Masses and that arrival should not begin more than 15 minutes prior to the start time.