A Letter from the Pastor on the Reopening of Church for Public Masses


May 20, 2020

“The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.
We have an anchor: By His cross we have been saved.
We have a rudder: By His cross we have been redeemed.
We have a hope: By His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love.”
[Excerpted from Pope Francis’ March 27 reflection]

Dear Friend(s) in Christ,

These past three months have been a spiritual, emotional, and physical challenge for all of us. The response of this pandemic has resulted in fear, anxiety, unemployment, and over-reaching concern for all – including our family, friends, and neighbors.
Recently, the May 16th edition of Mansfield News Journal highlighted the most recent communication from our diocese.  As our Catholic diocese announced on May 8, 2020, in a letter to clergy and parishes, we are preparing for a “Gradual Restoration of Public Masses and Liturgies.”  A “soft opening” for public parish Masses is approved to begin with weekday Mass on Monday, May 25th.  For our parish, we will celebrate Memorial Day Mass at 9 am in the church, observing the following restrictions.  The gradual restoration of publically celebrated Masses and all regularly scheduled liturgies begins on Saturday, May 30, 2020 with the Vigil Mass of Pentecost Sunday (5 pm at St. Peter’s).  Per directives from our diocese, the continuance of limited gatherings are subject to change at any moment.  Nevertheless, the following guidelines will remain in effect at least until July 1, 2020, unless pastors are notified of any amendment, revocation, or continuance.

DISPENSATION FROM THE OBLIGATION TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS

The faithful of the Diocese of Toledo continue to be dispensed from their Sunday Mass obligation until further notice.  We strongly encourage those who are elderly, sick, those with pre-existing conditions to refrain from returning to public liturgies (including weekend Mass) until such time as you feel confident to do so.  Stay home, be safe, and watch the 10 am Sunday Mass on WMFD.

PROPER SOCIAL DISTANCING

As your Pastor, it is my responsibility to make every effort to ensure that appropriate social distancing before, during, and after liturgical celebrations is maintained in order to create a safe environment for all involved.  In this context, I highlight the following practices to be followed:
· Other than family household members who live together, worshippers should be seated six feet (6 ft.) apart in all directions.  We intend to observe the mandate by the State of Ohio and the Conference of Catholic Bishops that the capacity is not to exceed 50% of fire code regulations.  We plan to make accommodations for an overflow congregation in the event the church reaches capacity.  For now, overflow seating will be in the basement of the church, with video feed of the Mass.   Please be patient with us.

  • Please – we strongly encourage you to wear a facial covering, or mask.  Please consider bringing your own hand sanitizer.
  • Stations for the distribution of Holy Communion will be limited.  The priests and deacon who are present will distribute in the center aisle only.
  • Our bishop’s directive is that any/all liturgical ministers are to be limited.  Those who assist will maintain social distancing and wear a mask. Please observe the tape markings on the floor in the center aisle, as well as pews marked off, to secure six feet distancing.  Also, please follow the directions of the ushers.
  • There will be no entrance or exit processions to begin or end Mass.
  • During this time, the “Offertory Procession,” including the usual time for the “Collection” is suspended.  Please bring your sacrificial offering with you to Holy Communion and place it in the basket at the Communion rail.  Envelopes and donations to our parish may also be sent in the mail or offered “online.”
  • The Sign of Peace continues to be suspended at this time.
  • Please refrain from holding hands during The Lord’s Prayer, a gesture that is not prescribed in the Roman Missal. 
  • There will be NO offering of the Precious Blood from the chalice.
  • The reception of Holy Communion on the hand is strongly encouraged.  Out of charity, sacrifice, and the health of your neighbor and your parish clergy, you are encouraged to receive on the hand. Clergy are not permitted to wear gloves for the distribution of Holy Communion.
  • Understanding that a certain sense of apprehensiveness and anxiety may exist, you may refrain from receiving Holy Communion if you desire.  Those who choose not to receive are encouraged to make a “Spiritual Communion.”
  • Do not expect Holy Water in the fonts during this time.  A sign of the cross and genuflection to the reserved Blessed Sacrament is appropriate.
  • We will do our best to keep common places in church (restrooms, door openings, handles, etc.) sanitized, but we do ask that – given the limited hand sanitizer currently available – you try to bring your own hand sanitizer with you to church. Single bathrooms at the bottom of the stairs, each side, as well as the “children’s’ room” will be available.
  • Hymnals and missalettes will be removed.  We intend to utilize our TV monitors for congregational participation in singing.  Please expect NO paper bulletins at this time.

       As we near the conclusion of the Easter Season with the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost, our minds and hearts turn toward the risen and ascended Lord who sent the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.  His promise to be with us always gives us hope and strength to persevere during these unsettling times.  May the Holy Spirit empower us to face courageously whatever may come and cause us to rejoice in our blessings.  Invoking the intercession of Mary, Health of the Sick and Mother of the Church, I remain,

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,

Rev. Gregory R. Hite





Very Rev. Gregory R. Hite, V.F., Pastor