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Hello everyone,

Below you will find my column from this week’s bulletin.  I have repeated it here because you may not always go to the Parish Bulletin on the website.  So I hope you will read it as it tries to explain this next phase of opening.

But I wanted to say a few words of explanation about the changes.  You may have read an article that appeared in the WSJ on June 16, 2020.  It was entitled Consensus Emerges non How Covid-19 Spreads.  In it, the authors make this statement, “It’s not common to contract Covid – 19 from contaminated surfaces, scientists say.  And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus.  Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods.”  (But we will still disinfect surfaces, railings, etc. , after each mass).  The article goes on to say that health agencies have identified “respiratory-droplet contact as the major mode of Covid-19 transmission.”  And still further it says that “while wiping down surfaces and putting in hand-sanitizer stations in workplaces is good, the bigger risks are close-range, face-to-face interactions.”  I am sure you share with me the sometimes confusing assertions of the “scientific experts” who, at times, seem to contradict one another. 

Sifting through all of this and trying to come up with a safe way to re-open the church for weekend masses continues to be a great challenge.  I mention all of this to help understand some of the procedures we will be using for the celebration of weekend masses now that the numbers permitted have been raised.  The procedures, themselves, are explained in my bulletin article.  The question has been raised about the distance from one pew to another, even skipping one row.  That distance is a little less than six feet.  But it is a “protected” distance, meaning everyone must be wearing a mask.  And it certainly isn’t face-to-face and if someone is coughing or sneezing, he or she shouldn’t be in church in the first place.  If you have any of the conditions usually associated with the coronavirus, please stay home.  This is included in the message of the most recent video.  If we were to use only every third row, we wouldn’t be able to get even 100 people in the church. 

The second issue is the communion procession.  While we will be going to 2 lines in the main body of the church, and not single file, (but still single file in the transepts) they will not really be lines.  The Ministers of Hospitality are instructed to space the leaving of the pew by household, not by pew.  This means that if there are two “households” in the same row, only one household will be invited out at a time, until the previous household has already reached the communion minister.  It is our intention that no line will form, rather it will be a constant flow of people “walking” up to communion. 

Please believe me when I say we are doing the best we can to accommodate public safety and the desire to return to mass.  If these arrangements leave you nervous, and they may for some, please put your safety first and stay home since everyone is still dispensed from the obligation to attend.    We will continue to live-stream mass every Sunday. Or, you might want to consider the 16 daily masses that are celebrated with far fewer people in attendance. 

Finally, please let me assure you, as a staff, we have spent hours trying to develop plans for these re-openings, and I use the plural because each time a new number is given, it’s back to the drawing board again.  While we do the best we can, I realize some may have concerns.  I respect that and just ask that you believe we are trying to do the best we can in some very complicated circumstances. 

Please don’t forget to read what follows. 

Fr. Ron's Blog - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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