Reopening Our Parishes for Sunday Mass May 23/24.
A Message from our Pastor,
Please read carefully and prayerfully!
All of us have been looking forward to joining with each other for Holy Mass. Our bishop likes to say that we do not want to rush, but to do things right. This is an act of love in our keeping vigilant for the health of each other.
I did not open up for daily Masses on May 11, or Sunday Masses on May 16/17, because I do not think enough of us are in agreement about the right way to approach uncertain situations connected with the pandemic. I want to see how people are doing with our state's back-on-track plans.
The major issue for me is that most of our parishioners are over the age of 65, and many of our parishioners have significant and ongoing health challenges. Any kind of flu worsens those already present health challenges.
I am really grateful for all of you in all of our parishes who have welcomed me, and I know you are all concerned for the good of each other. Let's stay alive together, for a while!
I know we would all like to go to heaven, but when you are in paradise, I wish you might look up St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Andrew and St. Joan of Arc and mention that, since they have you in glory, they might intercede with the Lord about sending us some replacement parishioners! In the mean time, we are going to do - together - such things as seem most responsible.
1) Please recall that our Indiana bishops have suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until 15 August 2020. There are two important principles to balance: a) the weekly attendance at Mass in obedience to our Lord's Last Supper command, "Do this in memory of me" is a first order duty of every Catholic, and b) no one is obliged to do the impossible when and where such conditions exist as to threaten life and health.
2) People over the age of 65 with regular health challenges are particularly warned to avoid public gatherings where Covid-19 might more easily be contracted and spread.
3) At Ss. Peter and Paul, St. Andrew and St. Joan of Arc parishes, we are going to take responsible precautions to fight the spread of a contagious virus. MASKS -Everyone coming for Mass must wear a mask, employ some mouth covering scarf, or use the masks we will provide at the door for wearing throughout the time we are in our churches together. HAND SANITIZER - We will ask you to use hand sanitizer lotions that we will have in the narthexes of the churches. The side doors to Ss. Peter and Paul will not be opened; all must use the main entrances of our churches. The offertory baskets for donations will be present there for you to drop in your contributions. HYMNALS have been removed. There is some evidence that virus germs remain on hard surfaces. Therefore, we are removing the hymnals to avoid touch/spread, and after Masses, we are disinfecting seats which people have used. SOCIAL DISTANCING - Half of the pews will be closed off, while only a limited number of people will be permitted in open pews. This predetermined number will allow for six feet between persons or households.
4) Our Masses will be short, and I know you will regret that!
Our parishes are small congregations of senior citizens. You may have heard that some parishes have attempted to contact parishioners in an effort to see how they could accommodate the fraction of the amount of usual attendees. Normally, our Masses look something like: 150 persons at Ss. Peter and Paul (4 p.m.) and another 150 at the 10 a.m. Mass. There are 80-90 persons at St. Joan of Arc's 8:30 a.m. Mass and 70 at its 11:30 Mass. At St. Andrew, it is 85 persons at the 5 p.m. Mass, another 85 at the 8:30 a.m. Mass and 110 participants at the 10:30 a.m. I point this out as it is a good discussion point for other issues we may be facing someday.
Following the social distancing guidelines from the State of Indiana, Ss. Peter and Paul could receive 100 persons when we resume Masses. St. Andrew could receive some 70 persons, and St. Joan of Arc also some 70 persons. When we had Mass on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, prior to the complete suspension of Masses, half the number of the usual attendees came, and this was consistent for our three parishes. In fact, they were all punctual!
Because a significant half of our parishioners will correctly conclude that they ought not to risk contagion, I suggest that you, who will attend, come to your usual weekend Mass, but come early to find your safe seat.
I ask for your patience and understanding that our churches can only admit the number of people we can accommodate under our state's social distancing guidelines. If we cannon admit you, there will be opportunity for you to receive Holy Communion prior to my celebrating Mass.
We are likely to learn things with every passing week. We all can see that such precautions and warnings that we are employing are motivated from love and a sense of safety. I really wish I knew more about how to confront this situation. I am glad, however, that I am facing this with all of you who so support our parishes and each other.
Whether we can see each other at Mass now or later, we will always be praying to God for one another!
DAILY WEEKDAY MASSES WILL RESUME ON MAY 18!
8 a.m. at St. Joan of Arc on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and 8 a.m. on Thursday at St. Andrew
CONFESSIONS at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Ss. Peter and Paul; 5:45 -6:15 p.m. on Wednesday at St. Andrew