Phased Approach to Returning to Mass

Posted on June 12, 2020 in: General News

Phased Approach to Returning to Mass

Parishioner Guide for the Restoration of Public Worship

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 wellbeing of the faithful and clergy may be reasonably safeguarded.

You should not attend Mass if you are 65 or older, have preexisting health conditions, are caring for a sick or homebound person, or are fearful or anxious about getting ill.


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:

  • Read and reflect on the Sunday scriptures
  • Pray the rosary reflecting on the Glorious Mysteries
  • Watch the Sunday Mass on TV, or via the internet.
    • *Wherever possible, pastors have been  encouraged to continue live-streaming Mass for  those who are unable to attend.


Social Distancing - Since “social distancing” will remain in place for the foreseeable future, pews will be sectioned off to maintain six (6) feet, in all directions, between individuals and/or households. Available seating will be clearly marked. 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, therefore you may not be able to attend a particular Mass if the church reaches capacity. 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.

Hand Washing/Sanitizing - 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, face mask that cover both nose and mouth are 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.


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 other 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.

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