Coming Back to Mass

​Dear Parishioners,

What a great joy it is to announce that we can resume public Masses even in the limited way available to us at the present time.  I look forward to us coming together again as we have in the past, though it may be a slow process getting there, and with the necessary safety procedures for the moment a somewhat different experience.

In the pages below are the protocols given to us by the Diocese of Erie, which were worked out with PA public health officials for the public’s safety and ours.  The Diocese has confirmed that they still apply in the Green Phase.

Please read them carefully.

One more thing of note, during the process of returning to normal through the various phases, after consulting with
Fr. Andy and Deacon Kevin (now Father Kevin) regarding place and times we have chosen to use St. Agatha Church for the following reasons.  These reasons are driven by the Diocesan protocols below.

  1. We can only fill churches to 1/3 of capacity; consequently we want to use the biggest church to give the most people possible a chance to attend.

  2. We are required to sanitize the church after every Mass.  Using only one church means we only have to sanitize one church after every Mass, not three.

  3. There are detailed protocols for seating and the reception of Communion, and so, again, we will then have to work them out for only one church, not three.

  4. We have a livestreaming setup in place at St. Agatha.

Our schedule for Masses will be:  weekends – 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday; 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.
weekdays and Saturdays – 8:00 a.m.,  ☼ Eucharistic Adoration – Tue 8:30-9:30 a.m.

The motto of St. Benedict for monasteries is ora et labora (pray and work).  This is good advice for us now.  If we pray and work together as the Diocese leads us, we will find our way back to the full practice of the faith that we miss and long to exercise again.

In Christ,

Fr. Jeffrey Lucas
Pastor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Checklist for Mass Attendance*

☐ I am feeling healthy.

☐ I am not at risk due to health conditions.

☐ I am wearing a facemask.

☐ I have hand sanitizer, if possible, and I am willing to use it.

☐ I will maintain social distancing.

☐ I am prepared to follow the protocols for seating.

☐ I am prepared to follow the protocols for the reception of Holy Communion.

DIOCESAN PROTOCOLS

  1. For all gatherings inside churches, the maximum number of participants should be limited to 1/3 of the building capacity, utilizing only every third pew.

  2. Dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday and holy day Masses remains in place.

  3. Dispensation from the Easter Duty (obligation to receive Holy Communion during the Easter Season) is granted.

  4. Livestreaming of Masses (both daily and Sunday) should continue wherever feasible.

  5. Spiritual communion should continue to be strongly encouraged.

GENERAL NORMS FOR ALL MASSES

  1. The following actions remain suspended:

    1. Exchange of the sign of peace among parishioners

    1. Distribution of the Precious Blood

    1. Placing of holy water in fonts

    1. Greeting of parishioners at the door before or after Mass

  2. There are to be no entrance processions, no processions to present the gifts, and no closing processions.  The priest and ministers should enter and exit directly from the sacristy, and the water, wine and hosts should be prepared beforehand on a table in the sanctuary.

  3. Masses and other liturgies are to be kept very simple.  There is to be no more than one lector, one server, one musician, one cantor.  When there is music, it may be necessary limit the music to the sung Mass parts.

  4. Everyone except the liturgical ministers in the sanctuary are to wear masks and practice social distancing.

  5. Pews, door handles, door plates, and other common surfaces are to wiped down between Masses.

Entering and Leaving

  • Parishioners who are in high risk categories, as well as those who are not feeling well, are to stay home.

  • It is not the pastor’s responsibility to police who is attending, but parishioners should be strongly urged to heed the protocols for participating in the Mass.

  • The doors to the church are to propped open before Mass and after Mass, so that no one needs to touch the doors entering or leaving.  They may need to be closed during Mass due to noise or weather.

  • In order to protect the most vulnerable among us, signs should clearly indicate at each church entrance that wearing a mask is obligatory for all who wish to enter.

  • At the end of Mass, parishioners should depart in an orderly manner maintaining social distance and should go directly to their vehicles.  There is to be no gathering in the church, in the vestibule, in the gathering space, or in the parking lot.

  • Based on suggestions from the Erie County health officials, at the end of Mass, the faithful should leave the church pew by pew, beginning with the pews closest to the exits.

Seating

  1. Only every third pew may be used.  Others are to be blocked off.

  2. A household could consist of a single individual or of multiple persons.  Members of the same household may sit together.  Multiple households may share a pew, provided that there are at least six feet between households.

  3. Parishioners must be prepared not to sit in their usual pew and must be flexible enough to sit wherever there is adequate room.

  4. Choir lofts are to be closed.  The organist, if necessary, can access the choir loft.

  5. Nothing is to be in the pews.  Hymnals and other similar items are not to be used and should be placed in storage.

  6. Hand sanitizer is to be available at the church entrance for parishioners.

  7. Collection baskets, with or without handles, are not to be used in the pews.  Place a basket near the church entrance and ask parishioners to drop their envelope in the basket on the way in.

Communion Rite

  1. Concelebrants and deacons should continue to receive by intinction, except for the one who will purify the chalice.

  2. Only priests or deacons should distribute Communion unless some need dictates otherwise.  Masks must be worn by the priest and deacon while distributing Communion.

  3. The Bishop strongly recommends Communion in the hand, but the right to receive on the tongue remains in place.

  4. There is to be only a single-file approaching each person distributing the Holy Communion.  If possible, communicants should approach one pew at a time, parishioners allowing those in front of them to finish prior to exiting the pew themselves.  (With smaller groups, this will not unduly elongate the liturgy.)

  5. Those approaching for Communion should sanitize their hands before entering the line to receive Communion.  They are also are to continue to wear face masks as they approach.  They are to remove the mask to consume the Eucharist and immediately replace the mask to return to their seat.

  6. For the distribution of Communion, there is to be a table next to the priest or deacon with hand sanitizer.  Each and every time he accidentally comes into contact with a communicant’s hand, and each and every time a communicant receives on the tongue, the priest or deacon is to use the hand sanitizer before he proceeds to the next communicant.

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