Government regulations on the size of gatherings will still be in place. At this time, the bishops are asking for less than a 50% of total capacity in order that physical distancing take place. Parishes will all be wrestling with how many individuals and/or families their building can accommodate in light of the need for physical distancing of a minimum of six feet apart in all directions between individual worshippers/households. It is extremely important that you register with your parish, so that your parish can contact you, and let you know how attendance limitations will be handled and when you will be able to attend Mass.
Expect that your parish will have a specific seating pattern that allows for a minimum of six feet of physical distancing in all directions between individual worshippers/households. Pews will be taped or cordoned off, and you may not be able to sit where you sat for liturgy pre-pandemic. Be prepared to wear a face mask or cloth face covering, and if you are sick or symptomatic, please stay home.
Precautions that were in place in early March will continue, along with other adjustments intended to limit the possibility for passing on the coronavirus known as COVID-19. Many of these are unfortunate and go against the grain of our worship expectations. Remember, the guiding principle in making these liturgical sacrifices is our respect for the life of every human person and the promotion of the common good.
Many faithful Catholics are in high-risk categories, are fearful, or have family members with compromised health. In addition, we know that all worship spaces will be limited in how many people they can accommodate, and so not everyone who wants to attend will be able to do so on a weekly basis. We invite you to continue to pray at home with your families, to participate in livestream liturgies, and to reach out to your fellow parishioners via telephone, postal mail, or internet to stay connected.
Parishes have all been educated on increased cleaning and sanitation practices, and attendance will be limited and subject to reasonable safety measures (such as practicing social distancing and face mask requirements); nevertheless, anyone who attends a public gathering, including a public Mass or other liturgy, must recognize that there will always be a risk that they could contract COVID-19 despite all of the precautions that will be taken to reduce that risk. As such, individuals who are in high-risk categories are strongly encouraged not to attend Mass at this time. Likewise anyone feeling sick or experiencing symptoms of illness should stay at home. Do not expect that being in a sacred space will make you immune to COVID-19 or that God will prevent you from contracting COVID-19 at church. We should have absolute trust in God’s divine providence, but we must also recognize that God does not promise us that this life will be free of suffering, disease, or death.
There will be challenges and frustrations. You may arrive at the church only to find that there is ‘no room at the inn,’ or that you cannot sit in your usual seat. You may be asked to change patterns of worship that have come to mean a great deal to your personal spirituality. All of us will have to make sacrifices in order to preserve everyone’s right to life, and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The last thing that anyone wants is to cause the illness or death of their priest or a fellow parishioner, or to contribute to a rebound effect that would cause public worship to be suspended again.
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