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Parishes prepare for a ‘new normal’ when public celebration of Mass resumes

News of the Diocese

May 14, 2020

Parishes prepare for a ‘new normal’ when public celebration of Mass resumes
The public celebration of Mass can resume with a “soft opening” on May 25 with weekday Masses. Sunday Mass will be celebrated publicly beginning Pentecost weekend, May 30-31. But the Catholic Conference of Ohio, which consists of bishops from across the state, said things will be different.

The bishops have been planning for the resumption of liturgies for several weeks after they made what they said was the difficult decision to suspend the public celebration of Masses beginning on March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 8, the bishops announced that weekday Masses could resume if parishes were able to conform to the new guidelines established to keep the clergy and faithful safe.

Click here for a letter from Father Don Oleksiak, diocesan administrator, outlining what to expect when Masses resume in the Diocese of Cleveland. .

Below are some of the guidelines the faithful should expect before, during and after Mass when they return to their churches later this month.

  • Attendance at Masses will be limited to less than 50% of the capacity of the church. Parishioners should register with their parish so they can be notified about any special conditions or limitations at their parish.
  • There will be physical distancing with specific seating patterns that allow for a minimum of six feet of space on all sides. Pews will be taped or cordoned off and ushers/volunteers may help guide people to appropriate seating.
  • Those attending Mass should plan to wear a face mask or cloth face covering and those who are ill or symptomatic are asked to stay home.
  • Offertory processions are suspended and collection baskets will not be passed during Mass.
  • The sign of peace is to be omitted.
  • There will be changes to the distribution of Communion, including both ordinary and extraordinary ministers sanitizing their hands before and after distributing Communion, no distribution of the Precious Blood to lay liturgical ministers or the assembly until further notice and maintaining social distancing in the Communion line. Masks/face coverings are to be worn and pulled below the chin before receiving the Eucharist, then replaced.
  • It is recommended that the faithful receive Communion in their hand until the pandemic is over.
  • After Mass, the congregation should leave in an organized manner, wearing masks/face coverings and observing social distancing of at least six feet between other households.
  • No receptions or social gatherings are to take place after Mass.
  • Parishes have been educated about the increased need for cleaning and sanitation practices. Pews and other high-traffic areas of the church are to be wiped down/cleaned before the next service.
  • The dispensation from attendance at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation will continue. Those who do not feel safe attending Mass in person are encouraged to watch a livestreamed or broadcast liturgy or to listen to a Mass on the radio. Parishioners also are encouraged to stay in contact with each other through phone, mail or other platforms.

“I am deeply grateful to our clergy, religious and lay leaders who continued to show their love and genuine care for our people by connecting with parishioners in innovative way,” Father Oleksiak said. “Thanks to everyone who played a role in strengthening our Catholic solidarity during these very challenging times.”

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