Dear Friends –
We are writing with exciting news! St. Margaret Mary Parish will begin celebrating Masses this weekend: May 23/24. Masses will be celebrated at 4:30 on Saturday, 10:00 and 6:00 on Sunday.
This is a significant moment for us.
Some of our parishioners are away this weekend and others are not ready to resume Sunday Mass just yet. We respect whatever decision you have made in this regard and don’t want anyone to feel pressured to come back to Mass if they are not ready.
Please know that we have worked hard to ensure that St. Margaret Mary Church is ready for the public celebrations of Masses. With the help of the Parish Council, Finance Council and Staff, we have been able to meet the compliance requirement of the 19 criteria the Archdiocese has set forth to reopen. Whether you are planning to come in person this weekend or not, this is a time of joy for us all.
So, here’s how we will do it!
Begin by watching the two brief videos on our home page slide banner explaining how we will resume Masses.
Let us know if you are coming!
We have sent out a survey asking your plans regarding Masses. Many thanks to those who have responded. It helps us to plan better. If you are planning on coming, and haven’t yet let us know, please do so. Send Father Paul an email – [email protected] – or call (978-502-1920). Let him know which Mass you plan to attend, and how many of you there will be.
Starting next weekend, Pentecost Sunday, May 30/31 we will be using registration software called EventBrite to sign up for Masses, but for this weekend we are relying on email and phone calls. One of the criteria for resuming is that we have to ensure that we have not exceeded our capacity under the Governor’s orders.
Use the front door.
Enter and exit the church only through the front door. The side doors will be closed. This allows us to monitor better the numbers of people coming in and also reduces the space that needs to be cleaned after each Mass. The front doors and windows will remain open during the Mass for better circulation. A volunteer will be standing at the main door to welcome you. Please allow the volunteer to invite you in before entering so that we can maintain a safe distance between people.
Sanitize your hands when you enter
There is a bottle of hand sanitizer on the table as you enter or better yet, use one that you have brought from home.
Keep your mask on
The Governor’s orders are very clear on this: you must wear a mask the whole time you are in the church, unless:
· You are younger than two years old, or
· You are between two and five years old and your parents think you shouldn’t wear a mask, or
· You have some health condition that makes wearing a mask especially burdensome
Maintain social distance at all times
There should be a minimum of six feet between you and others (except family members) at all times. The main aisle is marked out in six foot increments. Be sure the person in front of you is more than six feet. Take your time. We are not in a rush.
If it’s blue it’s a pew for you!
A volunteer will show you where to sit. There are blue stripes in the pews that are available for seating. Sit on a blue stripe. One family can sit on one blue stripe, or two individuals at either end of the blue tape.
Let the cantor do the singing!
There will be no congregational singing for now. The cantor will lead an antiphon and some Mass parts, but we should not sing them. Singing requires more breath. Although singing is the norm at Mass, as we get started again we need to avoid it.
Collection will be as you leave
To maintain the six foot separation, the collection will not be taken up during Mass. As you leave we ask you to make your offering in the baskets provided. The parish depends on your financial support.
The Sign of Peace is suspended
Also, we ask that you not hold hands during the Our Father. For many people, holding hands is an expression of faith and love. For the time being however, we need to be extra cautious about contact with others.
When you come up for Holy Communion
· The volunteer will direct you when it is time to come
· Walk up the main aisle – follow the blue arrows.
· Wait on the blue line until the next blue line in front of you is unoccupied.
· When you get to the front, stand on the blue X.
· When the priest or Eucharistic Minister is free, go and stand in front of them WITH YOUR MASK STILL ON.
· The priest or Eucharistic Minister (also wearing a mask) will hold up the Host and say “The Body of Christ”. You say Amen, then he/she will put the consecrated host in your hands, but without toughing your hands. Please leave your mask on.
· After receiving the Host, immediately step to the blue square. While standing on the blue square, remove your mask, consume the Host, put your mask back on, and return to your seat by way of the side aisles. follow the arrows!
At the end of Mass after the blessing and dismissal
· Volunteers will direct people out of their pews so that we can maintain safe distancing
· Please do not congregate. For the time being we need to ask that you not stop to chat with friends or even to remain the Church to pray. Volunteers will come in to clean the Church immediately after Mass.
Thank you for your support of St. Margaret Mary Parish. We are trying hard to resume our community life in a way that is respectful and reverent. Over the next several weeks, we can adjust these directives as it becomes obvious what works and what doesn’t work. Fr Paul and Fr Bob are available to be of help to you and your family during this pandemic. Please be assured of our continued prayers.
Yours in Christ the Lord,
Fr. Paul Soper and Fr. Bob Blaney