As we reopen our churches for the celebration of the Mass and Sacraments with the People of God present and actively participating, we recognize that we cannot eliminate the very possible risk of infection from the novel corona virus or COVID-19. On Monday, May 25th, we will resume celebrating daily Masses (only one Mass that day, Memorial Day). We reopen because we believe as Church that there are no substitutes for the reception of the sacraments, and our first priority is to be the sign of hope and instrument of the salvation of the entire human race. However, we priests are committed to mitigating the risk as much as possible. The dispensation from the obligation of attending Mass on Sunday will continue until our bishop says otherwise. Good judgment and reason should guide your decision as to when you should resume coming to Sunday Mass.

If you are sick or have flu like symptoms, stay home. If you are frail due to age, or vulnerable because of an underlying condition, or you are a caretaker of someone who is, it would be most reasonable for you to stay home. If you are fearful, stay home. For the time being, entrance to our church will be from the EAST DOOR only.

Social distancing will be required with approximately 6 feet separation between persons (except for family members from same household). All worshippers must wear a face mask and keep it on during Mass, removing it only to receive Holy Communion. (If anyone disagrees about the necessity of wearing a face mask, I ask that you wear it anyway – out of respect for and charity towards fellow parishioners.) While preaching or at the altar the celebrant will not use a face mask, except when he and other ministers distribute Holy Communion.

Hymnals, missalettes, holy water have been removed from the church, and the church and its facilities will be sanitized between services. Hand sanitizers are available at church entrances. In entering or leaving the church, and in approaching to receive Holy Communion, please maintain proper social distance. During Mass, please do not hold hands (for example, during the praying of the Lord’s Prayer); we will not exchange the Sign of Peace.

After Mass please do not congregate in the church or outside but make your way home. Social

distancing will reduce the numbers of faithful that can be accommodated – to about 25% of our church’s usual occupancy. Our parish staff, with input from our priests and members of our Pastoral Council, has been planning appropriately. They have sanitized the church and have marked off pews for seating, with other markers for Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance (Confessions). Now that the church and Reconciliation Rooms are open, there is no more reason to have any “Drive-Thru” confessions in our parking lot.

Beginning the first weekend of June 6th and 7th, a NEW WEEKEND MASS SCHEDULE goes  into effect: One Mass on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm; three Masses on Sunday morning at 7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 am; and Sunday Life Teen Mass at 5:30 pm. All these arrangements will take time getting used to, so, please pay attention to ushers or others who may be directing you.

We do not live in a risk-free world-we never have. There is a certain amount of risk we assume each day, whether in our cars, our workplace, at home or at school. We can never eliminate risk completely, but prudence helps us to mitigate risk whenever and wherever possible. The corona virus, COVID-19, has introduced new risks into our lives, and until a vaccine is widely available, we will be unable to eliminate completely the risks; but we must prudently try to mitigate those risks wherever and whenever possible. For this reason, the entire world put itself into “lock down,” practicing social distance, washing hands frequently, and pretty much staying at home as much as possible. The “lock down” succeeded in as much as the spread of this very contagious virus was flattened and our hospitals were not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Nonetheless, a high price was paid by all – for all were affected, even if not all were infected. Lives were upended, churches and schools closed, public gatherings limited, millions lost jobs, thousands fell sick and many of our loved ones died. Please pray for them.

While we never totally “closed,” our parish offices remained open, and many of our services continued. Priests continued making sick calls, hearing confessions, and offering Mass daily (albeit without a large congregation present). Through live-streaming of Masses, we strove to remain present to you, our parishioners. While we couldn’t celebrate Masses openly with you these past weeks, we never failed in offering you our most “essential service” of our prayers.

Civic authorities throughout the US and beyond are slowly “unlocking” the various jurisdictions under their control, even while scientists and medical professionals continue to urge caution. The novel corona virus is still among us – as is the risk of contagion. There is no substitute for good judgment. As we move to reopen more each week, prudence – the ability to govern and discipline ourselves by the use of reason – must govern our actions. So, stay safe, be wise and pray that this “dark cloud” over us will soon come to pass.

Thank you for your many prayers and Mass offerings for me while I was hospitalized; I know you helped me get well! Thank you, also, for your many Mass offerings and kind expressions of sympathy at the passing of my sister, Jeanne, during the time of my illness; I am truly grateful.

While you were gone, we bade a fond farewell to several of our people who moved from our parish, including Deacon Frank Iovine, as well as church sexton John Lynch and his wife, Sharon (who ran our Gift Shop for years) – to Colorado to be with family. God bless them!