Current as of May 1, 2021
Nota bene: These protocols for May and June 2021 were published on the assumption that our local area will remain the same or get slowly better in regard to Covid-19. Specifically, the presume that Steuben County will be at Covid-19 level Yellow or Orange. If there are sudden changes one way or the other, our protocols will be reconsidered. Thank you for your understanding.
- Capacity: The church may hold up to one third of its rated capacity, or 250 people. This includes the gathering area (20-25 people). Any overflow attendees are invited to go to the annex connector and/or the parish hall.
- Pews and seating: Every other pew is roped off. The choir area is reserved only for musicians. The extra chairs around the perimeter may be used, and the reconciliation room may be used as extra seating for one family.
- Masks: Masks must still be worn while in the church.
- Holy Water: There will be (slightly chlorinated) holy water in the two small stoups by the entrances.
- There is a jug of chlorinated holy water in the work sacristy, as well as a supply of sanitizer wipes to clean the stoups with.
- 5:00 Mass of Saturday – before Mass begins, the sacristan should empty the holy water stoups, clean them and refill them. – Revision: Laurie Beard said that she will clean the stoups and replace the water on Fridays as part of the regular cleaning of the church. The Saturday sacristan doesn’t need to.
- 10:00 Mass – after the last Mass, the sacristan should once again empty the stoups, clean them and refill them.
- We will not refill the large baptismal font at this time.
- Altar: The altar returns to the pre-Covid setup. That is, there is one big corporal in the middle of the altar.
- Credence Table (Credence Wagon): For a weekend Mass, there is usually 3 empty ciboria, 1 chalice 1 large corporal, 1 purificator and 2 extra chalice palls on the cart.
- Ushers & Greeters: You will continue to keep an attendance count, to ensure that we stay within proper guidelines. Someone should also be available at the Welcome station.
- Altar Servers: There will be two altar servers – a cross bearer and an altar master. There is no book bearer at this time. The servers will wear masks. The servers will not hold the book for the priest. They will, however, assist with the lavabo.
- Normally, there will be keyboard accompaniment. We will minimize use of wind instruments, and then only with safeguards.
- There is either a cantor or a small schola of up to 8 voices. Proper distancing is observed. The cantors and schola do not wear masks but do stay behind the transparent shields.
- We are now using the hymnbooks (Today’s Missal Seasonal and Music issue).
- The congregation is invited to sing both the hymns and the Mass parts. The people must keep their masks on.
- At least until Pentecost, we will use only one reader for each Mass.
- That lector reads the First and Second Readings the intercessions, and 4 explanatory announcements. At most Masses, the singers will handle the responsorial psalm.
- At Pentecost, we will re-evaluate.
- Offertory Procession: The bread, wine and water are on the offertory table. There should be at least three people in the procession, who should wear masks. The priests and altar servers will also wear masks when they receive the gifts.
- Our Father & Sign of Peace: Please refrain from shaking hands during the Sign of Peace or holding hands during the Our Father (families excepted).
- Collection: The ushers will not take up a collection and we will not pass a basket from hand to hand. Two large baskets are set up near the door and people are encouraged to put their gifts there.
- The next few weeks, we will continue to have only three communion lines. On Pentecost Sunday, God willing, we will introduce a fourth line (i.e., two up the center aisle).
- The ushers will continue to dismiss the people row by row, starting from the back.
- It is important for the people to maintain the 6-foot distancing in the communion line.
- We can offer communion only in the form of the host, and only in the hand.
- After Mass:
- We no longer need to disinfect the pews between Masses.
- We will continue to fumigate, however, every Monday through the end of June.
- Please see note above about the holy water stoups.
- At least until September, we will continue to celebrate baptisms, weddings, First Communions, confirmations, quinceañeras and similar celebrations as separate liturgies and not during Sunday Mass.
- Baptism preparation for families is suspended until September.
- Marriage preparation continues since the couples should be able to meet safely.
- At weddings, the bridal couple do not wear masks during the ceremony, nor does the priest. All other attendees are asked to keep their masks on.
- Confessions – continue as normal. The chairs have been moved 10 feet apart.
- First Friday Devotions and similar events – continue as normal, with the usual safety precautions.
- Sacrament of the Sick –
- No group celebrations are planned at this time.
- Individuals may arrange with any of the priests for an anointing in the church at any agreed upon time.
- At this time, only Fr. Bob will be visiting the sick in their homes. Thank you for your understanding.
- Hospitals and Nursing Homes – we will respect any restrictions these places establish. We are organizing a new group to visit the nursing homes.
- Funerals – wakes and funerals may be celebrated using the standard safety protocols for Masses. The parish hall is available for luncheons – see below.
- WE SEEK TO BE RESPONSIBLE AND CHARITABLE AT THE SAME TIME. Meetings in the name of the parish should take place in parish facilities. The parish cannot take responsibility for any meetings in anyone's private home.
- SMALL GROUPS –We have set up one classroom for up to 10 people, a double classroom for up to 20, plus we have St. Francis Hall. For larger groups, we will decide on a case by case basis. Remember, all meetings should be scheduled through the office director Patti Webster, firstname.lastname@example.org, 260-665-2259.
- PROPER PHYSICAL DISTANCING is required. Arrange tables and chairs so that we can be at least 6 ft. apart.
- MASKS are required upon entering and leaving the building and during all breaks. Masks are required during the meeting itself IF anyone present is unvaccinated. (Exceptions: for the main speaker/teacher if he/she is at least 12 feet away from anyone.) If EVERYONE present has been vaccinated, we may remove our masks during the meeting itself.
- LUNCHEONS AND OTHER FUNCTIONS IN THE PARISH HALL (ST. FRANCIS HALL):
- Current parish hall capacity: 75
- The hall is now available for funeral luncheons, baptisms, weddings, receptions and other church related events. Contact the parish office for details.
- Food may be served. All food handlers must wear masks and gloves, and exercise common sense caution.
- Tables should be set up with physical distancing in mind.
- Masks must be worn in the food line. Masks need not be worn while eating. See also above under “MASKS”.
- If food or drinks are served, please disinfect the tables when you are done. Thank you.
- CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS. Please wash and disinfect tables, chairs, door knobs, handles and switches both before and after your meeting. Thank you!
- USE COMMON SENSE - STAY HOME IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL. If you have any symptoms of any contagious disease (cough, fever, shortness of breath) be kind to the others and stay safely at home.
As a parish community, we want to keep our doors open as much as possible while still protecting the health of our community. We want our small faith enrichment groups, councils and other activities to continue when and where possible, while at the same time not making anybody sick. Our policies will, therefore, always represent a compromise, an attempt at balance. Thank you for your cooperation.
May the Lord bless us and keep us safe.
Fr. Robert G. Showers OFM Conv.
1 May 2021