Letter from Fr. Erik
Return to Celebrating Mass Publicly
May, 8 2020
Dear CTK parishioner,
This is the letter that speaks of a return to celebrating Mass publicly this weekend May 9-10, 2020. This won’t be the grand return we hoped for a couple months ago because many limitations remain and we proceed with much caution. But, as the hunger for the Eucharist has grown I look forward to celebrating God’s gift with many of you. For those not yet ready to return to public gatherings know that you remain in my prayers every day. Bishop Taylor has made clear that you do not have the obligation to come to Mass during this time.
This letter will describe the restrictions we must follow as we begin to gather again. We have worked to make adjustments and more will likely come as we see how everything goes. I beg your patience and understanding as we move forward. There will be inconveniences, but I ask you to come with flexible hearts and minds. There is also a video that describes what to expect as you arrive and throughout our celebration of the Mass.
Before I speak of any practical matters I must emphasize why we risk coming back now. The Eucharist is God’s gift of Himself. We are redeemed by his life, death and resurrection. This work of Jesus is what every Mass is. We offer the Son to the Father and that has never been disrupted by social distancing. The Mass has still been offered each day. But, God always has more to give and so the Eucharist is also our food. We come back in uncertain times because we hunger for the Bread of Life. Please let a fruit of this hunger be patience and a docile heart. You will be asked to do things you would rather not do. Ask God for the eyes to recognize the gift He gives above every inconvenience you face.
The biggest changes in our return to Mass MUST be that masks must be worn at all times by everyone in the congregation and we must maintain a physical distance of six feet while sitting and to the best of our ability even moving around. The restriction of six feet spacing means that we can only fit about 200 people in the church. The Family Life Center is set up for overflow if necessary. In addition we are adding Masses to our schedule for this return. The new Mass schedule will be as follows:
Saturday Vigil: 4:00pm & 5:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am, 9:30am; 11:00am, 12:30pm, 6:00pm
When you arrive at church everyone is asked to enter up the central sidewalk to the front doors. You will likely have to wait in line to enter the church and there will be markings on the sidewalk to maintain the distancing. Have your masks on as you enter the line before coming into the church. Just inside the door there will be someone waiting with a map of all the pews. They have been sectioned off to allow for groups of 1, 2, 3, 4 or more. Tell the person how many need to sit together and then an usher will lead you to your seats. We need this protocol to maximize the space we have and know when overflow seating in the Family Life Center is necessary.
There are groupings of chairs in the family life center and reception area. The Mass will be live streamed in these areas. Eucharistic Ministers will bring communion to those of you participating in the Mass here.
Collection baskets will be placed in the church and the family life center before and after Mass for you to place your contribution. Once in your pew the Mass will be as normal except that masks must be worn throughout the Mass.
At the time of communion instructions will be given in order to maintain distancing while moving forward in line and keeping masks on.
At the end of Mass we will ask everyone to help with disinfecting before the next Mass. Please bring wipes with you and use one wipe to clean all of the wood surfaces where you sat. Some wipes will be available if you are not able to purchase them yourself. Finally, we will dismiss by section of pews to avoid congregating as we leave.
I ask that you prepare yourself before coming to make the necessary changes. Have a mentality of care for other people and not only how the limitations affect you. For families I ask that you take care to do little things like making sure children go to the bathroom before coming. We need to limit trips to the bathrooms and movement in general. We will not be able to open the cry room and so you may need to step outside with crying children. We will have larger spaces in pews available because we are happy to welcome families back. The rules from the diocese require every child age 10 and up to wear a mask but I ask that you have masks for all younger children that will leave them on. This additional step helps the safety of our more vulnerable parishioners..
Ok, that is all for now. Again, I plea for patience and the practice of charity. It will take us a little while to get the flow down. We will adapt and change our practices if we learn a better way. Of course, we must keep in mind that the situation can change if the spread of the virus picks up again. We will adapt as necessary. But, we move forward focused on Jesus. We come because He offers His life for us and feeds us. I pray the fruit of our celebration will be seen in the holiness of our lives.