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Pastor's Column

Update on Our Limited Church Opening

Pastor's Letter

Update on Our Limited Church Opening

May 10, 2020

You may have heard that Archbishop Sample has begun the process of opening up our churches for Mass to the extent that the law allows at the moment. May God bless all our good parishioners of Saint Ed’s for your patience and faith in these very challenging times. I miss seeing all of you here in person!

As it now stands, the absolute maximum number of people allowed in per Mass as of May 9, 2020 is 25 persons and no more. This first step primarily benefits the many small parishes of our Archdiocese much more than large ones like ours. As the 11th largest parish in the Archdiocese, Saint Edward averages almost 1800 people in attendance each weekend. The 25 open slots per Mass include the priest, cantor, accompanist, and any other essential persons for the particular Mass. This leaves us with less than 20 people per Mass maximum, which for a parish of our size, allows only a few to enter (we would also be required to turn any others away at the door, which is pastorally unacceptable to me). This would be akin to winning the lottery in order to attend, not to mention the near impossibility of insuring everyone would get a chance.

I am explaining this in detail because, given the above, we obviously will want to wait for a more pastoral moment when the majority will have a chance to worship here, hopefully very soon! Therefore, please do not call the office; we are not taking reservations!

Given the above restrictions, we will be inviting our First Communion children and their parents, and confirmation candidates to receive their sacraments on a scheduled basis at each Mass, keeping within the 25-person maximum allowed. We are trying to accommodate at least some of the 140 children and 80 Confirmation candidates who have been waiting to receive the Sacraments for which they have been preparing. We will continue with this plan in this (hopefully brief) period before a larger number of us can be admitted and we can establish a fair and just method of reopening the church to all as the Archbishop and the law permits.

As soon as we are allowed to have a greater number of people in attendance (hopefully at least 50 or even more with proper distancing and safety), we will be ready for you! We have three buildings to use and ready to go: the new church, the old church and the hall, the last two with livestreaming and communion. At the moment, we are only permitted to use one building per church campus, although we do expect this to change. We thank you for your patience and for allowing our children to begin this very limited first phase. Finally, beginning May 18 our daily livestream Mass will be at 6:00 p.m. to better accommodate our children and their families. When the Mass moves to 6:00 p.m., the confession time will move to 7:00 p.m. We will advise you as soon as the situation changes.

When the time comes again, hopefully soon, and we are permitted to accommodate a larger number, you will notice quite a few changes that are required that we have or will be making. Among these will include the following:

  • All missals and flyers in the back of the pews have been removed.

  • The family room must be locked.

  • Pews will be cleaned after each service.

  • Pews will be roped off and proper distancing between families will be required.

  • Ushers will assist in maintaining distancing.

  • Eucharistic Ministers will sanitize their hands immediately before distributing communion.

  • The Precious Blood will not be offered.

  • An extra-large area will be cleared around the singers as required by the archdiocese. Masks are mandatory only if you wish to sing during Mass (!).

  • There will be no Rite of Peace.

  • Communion will be in a single line with distancing.

  • There will be no offertory procession.

  • The collection basket will not be passed, but rather we will have secure containers in the vestibule.

  • And, alas, no coffee and donuts for the foreseeable future.

Again, thank you for your patience and for all your prayers for us priests as we also pray for you and all those so deeply affected by illness or job loss, fear and the mandatory separation of our vibrant community. But God has a plan! It may not look like it now, but Sacred Scripture affirms that, in the end, all things work together for the good of those that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

God bless you all,

Fr. Gary

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