Guidelines to be followed during Pandemic

Mass times can be found in a separate post.
The information below is what is asked of parishes / parishioners appropriately.

Health and governmental authorities:
All directives provided by officials are to be followed.

  * The time spent in public gatherings is to be kept to a minimum. Therefore, selections for the required ritual elements for the celebration of the sacraments should be made accordingly. For example, simple Mass setting should be sung, and brief homilies should be given. Required elements of the liturgy are never to be omitted.

* The number of individuals allowed to gather must be in compliance with current governmental restrictions. This applies to all sacramental gatherings mentioned below. A system of “registration” (online, by phone, etc.) should be devised by each parish so that individuals are not turned away at the door, to avoid any traffic issues, and as a safety measure to assist in reporting names in the event of any possible exposure to COVID-19. Volunteers should assist those who have registered as they enter and exit the church and parking lot.

* Social distancing (six feet of separation per household) is to be observed at all sacramental gatherings mentioned below. Consequently, parishes must mark one door for entry to direct the flow of traffic (attentive to fire safety codes), pews to indicate where people can sit, aisles to indicate the direction they may take, and stations to indicate where people can wait to receive Holy Communion or use the restroom. If additional spaces are used, social distancing requirements must be maintained and care taken to avoid clustering at exit doors.

* Churches are to be properly disinfected and ventilated before and after each individual use, not simply at the beginning or end of the period of time during which they are open. For example, the space used for confession must be appropriately disinfected after each penitent. Consult the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommended sanitization procedures: (1) Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces and (2) Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

* All non-sacramental social gatherings, etc., particularly, congregating before or after Mass either in the church or in the parking lot, are prohibited.

Safety and hygiene is the duty of every individual:

 *  Anyone attending Mass does so on their own volition.

*  Those who are sick or symptomatic must stay home.

*  Those who are vulnerable (i.e., sixty-five years of age or older, with underlying health conditions, with immune system deficiencies) should remain at home and should not volunteer or be asked to volunteer to fulfill liturgical ministries during this time. However, a separate seating area may be designated for them if they choose to attend.

* All ministers and members of the assembly are to sanitize their hands at home and upon entering the church. Parishes are to provide sanitizing stations. The faithful are to bring their own hand sanitizer for the reception of Holy Communion.

*  Members of the assembly over the age of two are to bring their own face masks and wear them while they are in church for all sacramental gatherings. Ministers are not to wear face masks during the celebration of the liturgy, except when social distancing cannot be maintained (i.e., when baptizing, confirming, distributing Holy Communion, hearing confessions, and anointing the sick).

*  Members of the assembly can wear gloves, but not for the reception of Holy Communion. Ministers are not to wear gloves during the celebration of the sacraments, except to anoint the sick. Gloves are to be removed by turning them inside-out and disposing of them in the trash. Hands should be sanitized after removal.

* Hymnals, holy water, offertory baskets, etc. are not to be used. Disposable worship aids and bulletins may be used.

* Competent ushers, who are not vulnerable, are to be trained to assist such that they are knowledgeable, clam, and welcoming.

* When visiting the home of a penitent, sick person, etc., meetings should take place outside whenever possible, for example, through an exterior window, on a porch, or on the lawn. When this is not possible, the one entering the home is to maintain social distancing, wear a mask, bring only what is needed (e.g., confessional stole, Oil of the Sick, etc.), sanitize hands immediately before and after the visit, and avoid touching one’s face or other items (e.g., car keys, mobile phone, car door, etc.) until hands are sanitized. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be available in the home setting. In certain cases, if time permitting, it may be preferable to ask for the assistance of a priest currently assigned to the care of COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals to limit further exposure of clergy. Please see the detailed description below for the administration of the sacraments.

* Pastors/administrators must report confirmed cases of COVID-19 of anyone who attended Mass, visited, worked /volunteered, etc. at parish. Such cases are to be reported to the local Department of Health and to the Chancellor of the Diocese.