Praise be to God - we are about to resume our public worship. The wait is nearly over.
We all are receiving mixed messages from here or there, but one thing we know for sure is that we need to proceed wisely about gathering anywhere. Our bishops have laid down strict guidelines that need to be adhered to if we wish to gather.
At the outset, I sincerely advise that if you are unwilling to comply with these guidelines, you would be better off not attending and instead participate though one of the many streaming opportunities available until at least June 28.
Ushers will be present to assist all of us in safely entering, seating, participating in Holy Communion, and orderly dismissal. Please comply with the ushers' requests. They are in place to keep us safe and allow us to receive the Lord again sacramentally. Little sacrifices reap great rewards.
Everyone who comes to Mass beginning Monday, May 25, 9 AM must wear a mask. No mask no entry. Masks must be worn for the entire liturgy except when you place the sacred host in your own mouth. Masks must be worn for the entire liturgy. If the masks come off - the ushers will gently remind you to put it in place. Please comply.
We must keep safe distance. As you enter the church through the front door, you will notice two aisles. Keep to the right and immediately proceed into the sanctuary through the center double doors. There will be an usher to guide you to your place for Mass. You decide where you want to sit, left or right, but within the space marked out in each pew by the green stickers. These are all measured 6 ft. apart. We will utilize every other row.
Family members may sit closely as you normally would, but 6ft. from the next family. The ushers will help you if there are any questions; please adhere to their advice, they were trained how to guide us safely.
When it is time for Holy Communion, we will have a station in the front and the back of the church. One row at a time will be guided to the Communion line 6 ft. apart and the Blessed Sacrament will be distributed on the hands only. Do not expect to receive the host on the tongue; we are not ready for that. It would only serve to put your ministers at even higher risk, and we cannot allow that to happen. This is the decision of our parish within the guidelines of the Archbishop. No discussion.
You will notice the arrows in the aisles guiding us in one direction. This is what we are used to anyway - approaching the minister from the center aisle and returning by the side aisles. The front rows will be ushered one row at a time toward the front (priest), and from the rear toward the deacon. Both returning to your place by the side aisles as usual. You will notice this strategy avoids unnecessary closeness throughout the distribution process.
We will not be gathering collections as usual. Two collection stations will be placed near entry by the front double doors to the sanctuary, and by the side door upon dismissal only. Remember, we all enter through the front and center aisle. Please place your offerings in the baskets - one for each collection. Thank you.
We do not give the sign of peace in any way that causes touching each other. Smiling eyes and bows work great.
We will have hymns but no hymnals or missalettes. It is not too easy to sing with masks on, but you can sing interiorly - or allow the hymn to touch your heart in silence or humming. Try it. it is beautiful and God feels our love.
Only one person should use the restroom at a time. Movement during Mass should be at an absolute minimum. It's probably a good idea to use the facilities before Mass to keep this sort of movement to a minimum. Of course, restrooms are never off limits.
We cannot congregate in the narthex the way we love to do. The chairs are positioned to move us in and out of church safely - 6 ft. apart - and move directly inside before Mass and directly outside after Mass.
We will be dismissed by our ushers row by row in an organized and fluid way. Those at the rear of the sanctuary will leave via the rear doors, and the front rows out the side door near Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Beginning on Pentecost Sunday, our weekly bulletin will return.
Next week Fr. Vin will be hearing Confessions after Mass in the sacristy room. This will be set up for either face-to-face or private prayer. An usher will assist in the line formation to ensure safe spacing. Silence is always in order in preparation for Confession. As Fr. Vin is hearing our Confessions, ushers and helpers will disinfect the pews and handles of doors and the restrooms to prepare for the next Mass.
Due to this necessity, there will be no Eucharistic adoration this first week. We have to monitor this process, review, evaluate, and revise as needed, with the intent to resume Eucharistic adoration after Pentecost Sunday.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time of trial. We have so much to be thankful for - God has led, and continues to lead, us through this dark tunnel of the last eight months. Now, there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we will soon rejoice in good health with our new pastor, Fr. Mario.
The capacity for Mass is 100 congregants. Ushers will have their counters in hand as we strictly adhere to this limit. As of this writing, yesterday's flocknote reached 60% of our St. Francis community (approx. 285 families) and 74 percent will not be immediately attending Mass. Fourteen percent plan to attend during the week helping to keep the Sunday Mass numbers lower. Fifteen percent plan to attend on Sunday. These numbers give us the forecast for those that will be attending - an authentic sample.
Our next note will ask for your preference of Sunday Liturgy: 4:30 Saturday, May 30; 8:30 or 11 AM Sunday, May 31. You will be able to help us to project effectively in preparation. Your help in this planning is greatly appreciated.
There will be our usual preview for Sunday Mass with prayer petitions and some other parish news. That will post Saturday morning.
***There will be an usher's dry run Saturday morning at 10 AM in the church.
Thank you ushers for your dedicated and critical role in our reopening.
Rejoice and be glad, St. Francis family, for we are returning to Mass together, alleluia!
+God bless you all,
Deacon John Paul Mc Guire
on Friday, May 22 at 10:49AM