A Message from the Pastor
After almost three months of separation, I have some wonderful news. Since our state has entered Phase 2 of the Strategic Plan, Bishop Barres is allowing Mass to be celebrated with the faithful.
We will offer our first public Mass this Saturday, June 13, at 5:00 PM. Mass will also be offered Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. We are beginning the process of “normalcy.”
In this beginning phase, we are allowed 25% of the total Church capacity. That will offer seating for about 115 people. I have set up the Marian Room for a priest to celebrate an overflow Mass, if needed, during our three public celebrations. This step will offer seating for an additional 58 people. Some parishes are asking for registration or even tickets for Mass. I would like to attempt this without that procedure. If more than 115 people arrive for Mass in the Church, they will be directed to the Marian Room. When the Marian Room number reaches maximum occupancy, people will be asked to return to another Mass. I ask for your patience and understanding during this adjustment.
Masks must be worn by everyone two years of age and up. Those below two years of age and others with respiratory issues are not required to wear a mask.
Sanitizers will be made available at the doors of the Church and the communion stations.
This first week there will be no music at Mass.
When you arrive in Church, you will see blue “x’s” on the seat of the pew. Please sit only on the “X.” Families who reside in the same household may share and take up an entire pew; otherwise, seating is limited to 3 or 4 persons per pew. Every other pew will be kept free. NO STANDING IS PERMITTED. These measures are in place to fulfill social distancing.
As of this time, at the direction of our Bishop, Holy Communion will be distributed at the end of Mass. This will allow anyone with reservations about receiving Holy Communion to refrain and leave the Church. Communion stations remain as they have been. We encourage all to receive on the hand to minimize the possible spread of the virus. Though I am not mandating Communion in the hand, I just wonder at this time how prudent it is to add the additional risk factor. The hand sanitizer at the communion station reduces the risk of exposure to the virus. There is no parallel procedure for the saliva of the tongue. Many ministers have certainly experienced fingers that have touched the saliva of the communicant.
Unfortunately, we cannot return to the regular schedule of Masses at this time. There are a number of procedures that must be done after each Mass. The Church must be sanitized after each Mass or celebration. The recommendation is that the windows and doors are open to “air out” the building. Bathrooms must also be cleaned. This means that our maintenance crew has to come in on Sundays during the day to clean and sanitize the Church at least twice. I do not wish to put an additional burden on an already overworked group. I also want to ensure that we can, in fact, fulfill these guidelines. If we cannot, and there is an inspection, we will be closed. I am not sure if we ever think of the personal sacrifices, of health and family time, these women and men make every day for us so that our Church could remain open for private prayer during this crisis.
There has been the suggestion of outdoor masses or parking lot Masses. These options are too dependent on rain and wind. With the temperature being as hot and humid as it is, it will become very uncomfortable, and those in cars will have to leave their engines running to maintain the a/c. With closed windows, it will make hearing extremely difficult.
We will also begin celebrating weddings, funerals, and Baptisms with the same guidelines. Please call the Parish Office during regular business hours to set up the sacraments. Please note because of First Holy Communions and reception of those in the RCIA, memorial Masses will not be available on Saturdays at present.
While these changes are not perfect or even what we may have been hoping for, they are a good step. Let us be grateful for the gifts given to us as we move forward to a return to some semblance of normalcy.
In the midst of this joy, I feel obligated to make the following caution. In 24 states that have already opened, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases. Some increased as much as 46%, the highest number they have seen. In at least one parish, an infected person attended Mass and passed the virus to people in church. Please know that even with our precautions, you are not 100% safe from the virus. Please understand this, and the ramifications, as you make your decision–a reminder the bishop has extended the dispensation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation. If you are sick or have experienced any of the virus symptoms please DO NOT attend Mass. You will place many people at risk. We are mindful of the staff of our parishes who have contracted the virus, especially Msgr. Sosing, the pastor in Valley Stream. He recently died of the Coronavirus and, at this time, the priests of his rectory are now infected. If you are one of our elderly, a person with a compromised immune system or very young, we are told you are more susceptible. Please exercise reasonable and prudent judgment to protect your health and the health of others.
Masses will now be livestreamed at 5:00 PM on Saturdays via our website and parish Facebook page. The video will be available at any time on-demand after the premiere. Also, Mass will continue to be offered each day at 9:00 AM online as we work towards resuming daily public Mass.
So with the help of Our Lord Jesus and His blessed Mother, we continue forward in the hope and joy of His eternal presence.
In Jesus and Mary,