I am pleased to inform you that Bishop Malesic announced the Diocese of Greensburg will allow parishes to recommence Holy Mass on Monday, June 1. I want to note, however, that returning to Mass and other liturgies will include notable differences from past experiences as parishioners will be required to wear masks and remain six feet apart, which equates to approximately 30% capacity inside the Church.

In order to prepare everyone for the experience of Sunday liturgies, we will present a complete instructional video on our Operation Safe Mode YouTube channel that will give you all the necessary visual instruction to make you feel safe and ready to return.

Many things will be different due to restrictions and the desire to keep our parishes “Operating in Safe Mode.” The following items outlined below will also be discussed in the video.

  • For the foreseeable future, all people will remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays.
  • Those who feel vulnerable because of their age or health are encouraged to stay home, while those who are sick should not attend public worship. Streaming Masses will continue.

NOTE: These two points are the most important in the early stage of our return so those who are still fearful of community gatherings and are vulnerable can choose to stay home. IN FACT, we encourage you to do so for your own wellbeing and safety.

Here are some guidelines developed by the committee and presented by the Diocese of Greensburg:

  • In accordance with CDC guidelines, all high-touch areas must be sanitized after daily Mass and between weekend Masses and cleaned with soap and water once each week.
  • People must wear a mask and must be seated at least in every other pew to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines of six feet. Members of the same household, however, may sit together.
  • Ministers functioning within the liturgy are not required to wear masks, so long as the six-foot social distancing guidelines are followed. However, when distributing Holy Communion, all ministers must wear a mask.
  • All communicants will be encouraged to receive the Sacred Host in the hand. A bottle of hand sanitizer should be placed on a table beside the minister of Holy Communion who must make use of it when any contact is made giving Holy Communion, or when requested by the one receiving Holy Communion.
  • The chalice of the Precious Blood will not be offered to the congregation.
  • The Sign of Peace at this time will not include a handshake, instead we will turn to the person next to us and offer a reverential bow.
  • Holy water and baptismal fonts will be drained.
  • Collection baskets may never be passed among the congregation and instead must be placed in a stationary and suitable location.
  • Removal of Bibles, hymnals, and missalettes is required, however, non-reusable worship aids are allowed and projection is encouraged.
  • Musicians are advised to limit music and singing and no choirs are permitted.
  • Parishes may modify Mass schedule to accommodate proper sanitization requirements.

Additional Guidelines

The permitted number in attendance at weddings and funeral Masses is the same as above so long as proper sanitization can be assured both before and after the liturgy. Baptisms are also same as above but should be done outside of Mass.

Pastoral care to the critically ill will continue. For others, such as routine visits to the homebound, clergy and ministers of Communion are encouraged to stay in contact by telephone and other means instead of placing those persons at risk.

Confirmations and First Communions can recommence in July and should be divided into smaller groups if necessary. Receptions into the Church for RCIA can recommence immediately at the Pastor’s discretion. Special consideration will be given to families who would like to delay sacramental celebrations until a later date.

NOTE: We are planning to schedule Confirmation for October at both parishes to give us a chance to prepare in September. First Communions will be scheduled soon after the Fourth of July and Ginny McConnell will be contacting the parents of our children. These will be held in small groups of 10 or fewer families. Baptisms will be scheduled on Saturdays starting with June 13.

Meetings of parish organizations may recommence with a limit of 25 persons and with social distancing and use of masks as long as the parish has the resources to clean and sanitize afterward.

Parish “takeout” fundraisers will be allowed to recommence this summer pending completion of a safety certification webinar by a parish representative in June. Volunteer workers are limited to 25 total in any given space and with social distancing and use of masks.

The Burger Bash will begin as a drive-thru experience starting June 20, so mark your calendars!! Read more in the Accent Online.