On Wednesday, May 27th, Bishop Cote released the Parish Reopening Guidelines to the Pastors of the Diocese.
The obligation to attend Mass continues to be dispensed for all Catholics in the Diocese of Norwich.
While the Pastors and staff are making preparations, it is just as important that we prepare ourselves and our families for returning to Mass.
The initial resumption of public worship will be WeekDAY ONLY Masses beginning on Monday June 8th, provided that the parish can meet the guidelines.
The elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, those who are fearful or anxious, and those who are taking care of a sick or homebound person need not be concerned if they miss Mass as the dispensation from the Sunday obligation has now been extended. Anyone in those categories is asked to continue taking advantage of television of streaming Masses online as they stay home and stay safe.
A Phased Approach
Parishioner Guide for the Restoration of Public Worship at Our Lady Queen of Peace
Our main priority is the restoration of the public worship of God through the celebration of Mass and the sacraments in a way that conforms with established liturgical norms and mandates issued by civil authorities, so that health and well-being of the faithful and clergy may be reasonably safeguarded.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues to be dispensed for all the faithful in the Diocese of Norwich until further notice. Those who are considered “high risk” due to age or underlying health condition, are encouraged to stay home. Stay home also if you are experiencing symptoms of illness or not feeling well. Since Sunday is still the Lord’s Day, the faithful are encouraged to do one of the following while unable to attend Mass:
Since “social distancing” will remain in place for the foreseeable future, pews have been sectioned off to maintain six (6) feet, in all directions, between individuals and/or households. Available seating will be clearly marked. It is likely that you will not be able to sit in your usual or favorite seat. Where the faithful may stand in line, (for example, waiting to go to confession or to receive Holy Communion), floor markings will indicate proper spacing. It is important to note that seating will be limited due to social distancing and local regulations, with an expected maximum of about 55-65 people, therefore you may not be able to attend a particular Mass if the church reaches capacity. Seating for families to sit together is extremely limited because seating locations are limited due to the locations and sizes of the fixed pews. We ask for your understanding and that you please respect directions given by parish volunteers who have been assigned the task of ensuring compliance with stated restrictions.
Wherever possible, hand sanitizer will be made available near church entrances. If not available, the faithful are reminded of their responsibility to carry and use their own hand sanitizer.
Wear a Mask
According to state mandate, a face mask that cover both nose and mouth is required of all attending public worship. The use of a face mask is not required by any person who by using it, will act contrary to his or her health or safety due to a medical condition. Children under the age of five are not required to wear a mask.
Distribution of Holy Communion
Despite best efforts and practices, there is no completely sterile way to distribute and receive Holy Communion. To minimize potential contact, the following procedures will be in place.
- The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful who wish to receive will take place immediately after Mass has concluded. This will allow for clergy to prepare to distribute Holy Communion and allow for a staggered dismissal of the faithful to avoid overcrowding at the doors of the church. The faithful are nevertheless encouraged to make an appropriate thanksgiving after receiving the Eucharist.
- Please observe the appropriate distance from others while waiting in line to receive.
- The faithful should lower their face coverings just as they are about to receive Holy Communion, and immediately replace their face covering once Holy Communion is received.
- If wearing gloves and you choose to receive Holy Communion in the hand, gloves must be removed before you can receive. The Eucharist may not be placed in a gloved hand.
- Please follow any additional guidance given in your parish concerning the procedure for the reception of Holy Communion.
- The faithful are reminded that our primary purpose in attending Mass is to participate in the act of worship and praise given to God. Therefore, one does not need to receive Holy Communion each time one attends Mass. Those members of the faithful who are either uncomfortable with receiving Holy Communion at this time, or are not prepared sacramentally to receive, are encouraged to make an act of spiritual Communion.