Guideslines for Places of Worship: Returning to Mass at St Mary
I’ve pulled together items from the Governor’s Office (Healthy at Work: Guidelines for Places of Worship), as well as the Diocese, to guide us as we return to in-person services at St. Mary. Please understand that all guidelines and restrictions are rooted in charity and concern for our neighbors. While government certainly has a vital role in society during a pandemic, let me emphasize that the sacrifices we make, as a faith community, are out of love for neighbor.
- Public Masses may be celebrated in the Diocese of Owensboro beginning May 20, 2020. As we prepare for a return to our scheduled Masses, we will conduct our weekend Mass Schedule in the Horn Community Center to assist us with the social distancing requirements. Weekday Masses and Confessions will be held in the Church.
- Places of worship should not allow individuals with elevated temperatures (100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or above) or signs of illness (coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing) to attend in-person services. Houses of worship should direct those having symptoms of COVID-19, as well as people who have had close contact with a person who has symptoms like dry cough, chest tightness, and/or fever, to refrain from participating in any aspect of in-person services. Places of worship should encourage symptomatic persons to stay at home.
- Bishop Medley has extended, until further notice, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Therefore, no one is required to attend Mass on Sunday or Saturday evening.
- Those who are considered to be at risk and those who may feel uncomfortable attending a public Mass should worship from home. Parishes that are able will continue to live stream the Mass.
- Since the obligation is dispensed, Catholics who would like to attend Mass are encouraged to consider going to Mass on a weekday in order to lessen the crowd on Sunday.
- Six feet of physical distancing will need to be maintained between all of the faithful except for those who live in the same home.
- In order to facilitate physical distancing, each church may accommodate only 33% of its capacity. As we prepare for a return to our scheduled Masses, we will conduct our weekend Mass Schedule in the Horn Community Center to assist us with the social distancing requirements. Weekday Masses and Confessions will be held in the Church.
- Everyone should wear a face mask except for children under the age of 2. If individuals are uncomfortable or children are not mature enough to wear a mask for the entire liturgy, they may consider worshiping from home. Please note that it is our preference that everyone come with their own mask but we will have a limited supply available for those without. Ushers will be masked, maintain social distancing, and wear gloves.
- The presider will wear a mask while in procession and during the distribution of Holy Communion. At all other times, he will maintain a distance of six feet from other ministers.
- The sign of peace will either be omitted or will be given in a non-physical manner such as with a bow of the head.
- Holding hands during the Our Father should be done only by those who live in the same home.
- Singing will be kept to a minimum with no hymnal or worship guide.
- Cry rooms will be unavailable.
- The collection basket will not be passed but the ushers will utilize handled collection baskets.
- Holy water fonts will remain empty.
- At the conclusion of the Mass, people will depart by section to avoid a bottleneck at the doors. Until further notice, no congregating will be permitted in any of the parish buildings or the parking lot.
- Since Bishop Medley has extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday, there is no obligation to receive Holy Communion.
- For those who choose to receive Holy Communion, six feet of distance must be maintained in the Communion procession.
- The face mask should be worn while in procession and removed only long enough to receive Holy Communion.
- The practice of the faithful receiving Communion on the tongue is suspended. Holy Communion will be given in the hand only.
- The practice of the faithful receiving the Precious Blood is suspended.
- The worship space and high traffic areas will be cleaned and sanitized after each Mass.
- Bathrooms are limited to one person at a time and will be cleaned after each Mass.
To the greatest extent practicable, please attend your typical Mass time to assist with the occupancy restrictions.
Please respect the fact that all parishes will be restricted to no more than 33% of their building occupancy capacity for their own parishioners. Until further notice, please refrain from visiting other parishes, especially our neighboring parish and mission of St. John the Baptist, Fordsville.
It is my hope and prayer that these guidelines will help you know and understand what we will be doing and why as we strive to implement them to the very best of our ability. This document is very fluid and could be updated at any point.
In joyful anticipation,
Fr. Brian J. Roby