Protocols for Resuming Public Mass at OLPH
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
I have the joy to announce you, parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, that our weekend public Masses will resume beginning with the Vigil of Pentecost Mass, Saturday, May 30th, at 5:30 PM.
RESPONSIBLE PROTOCOLS FOR RESUMING PUBLIC MASSES AT O.L.P.H.
The Coronavirus has severely impacted our way of life, including the way we do public worship. The intention of these protocols is to allow for a reopening of our church while providing a safe environment as set forth by the Federal, State and County governments, along with the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s guidelines.
Bishop Gregory Parkes’ main focus (and mine too) is your safety. That is why he is extending the dispensation of attending Mass to all Catholics that – because their age, medical condition or fear – would feel uncomfortable or/and at risk of being infected or infecting others, inside the church building.
Everyone that walks into the church building must feel safe and know that everything we could do to protect them has been done. With this in mind the following protocols have been developed.
- Try to get into the church at least half an hour before the service. We will operate on a first come first served basis.
- It is vitally important that anyone entering the church comply with the protocol to maintain safety for all. On the glass doors you will find posters with all these protocols abbreviated.
- Please do not congregate to socialize before entering the church or after Mass, try to keep social distancing (6 feet apart) at all times, and avoid all kind of physical contact (kisses, hugs, shake hands) at all times.
- Entrance will be from the main doors on the weekends; the side door is going to be used only on the weekdays.
- Please be aware that the bathrooms in the church will be temporarily closed (so, take adequate precautions or you might decide not to come).
- In the lobby of the church you will see a sign indicating that FACIAL MASK is required to be used by all the adults, at all time, except at the time of Communion.
- There will be hand sanitizer bottles for you to use before and after Mass. It will help if you bring your own personal bottle of hand sanitizer.
- You might take the Parish Bulletin at this time, pick an offertory envelope (if you have forgot to bring yours) and deposit monetary help into the Poor Box, if that is your desire.
- Volunteers will guide you to a suitable pew. You will find that some pews have been blocked off with a yellow ribbon. You can use those pews that are not cancelled, keeping a social distance of six feet between person to person ( if three individuals that come by themselves , we will be able to accommodate them in one pew; if there is a couple or a family, the capacity of that pew will be diminished, of course). Parishioners will need to sit as a family unit that live in the same household. This is very important. You may be related but if you do not live in the same household you may not sit together.
- Pews will be filled out beginning from the front to the back of the church, until all the available pews are occupied. Once the church gets to its maximum allowed capacity (50%), the main doors will be locked from the outside (people would be able to open the doors from the inside, in case of emergency, according to normal regulations). There will be signs on the outside of the doors, apologizing for any inconvenience, stating that the capacity of the church has reached its limits, and asking people to come to the next available service.
- Those who are receiving Communion is very important for them to follow a special protocol that has been designed to provide you the safest and most efficient procedure for receiving the Body of Christ.
- This protocol has taken into account all the requirements of the above agencies while maintaining the dignity and respect of Holy Communion.
- Holy Communion under the species of bread, only, will be distributed during scheduled masses. It is of the most importance that everyone involved, priest, Extraordinary Minister of Communion, Monitors and Communicants, follow these instructions.
- The priest and another minister of Communion will place themselves at the end of the first section of the church, at the side aisles. Monitors will invite Communicants of the closest row to the Altar, to get in line, leaving 6 feet between one person and the following (as it will be indicated on the floor), remove the mask from the mouth. The Minister will say to you: “The Body of Christ” but you won’t respond: AMEN. Receive the consecrated Host on the hand and take it directly to the mouth.
- Put back on your mask and return to your place by the center aisle. Once all the Communicants of the first section of the church have passed, the priest and the other Eucharistic Minister will give the Holy Communion to the second section (the one that is closer to the glass doors). Distributing the Holy Communion the same way.
- When the Mass is ended, the priest and ministers will go directly to the Sacristy. The last rows will leave the church first, one by one. The last people to leave the church will be the ones in the first rows. Remember to keep your social distance when you go out, and not to congregate (not even in the parking lot).
- Remember to sanitize your hands again as you leave the church building.
We all must remember these are very trying and ever-changing times, and that following these protocols will help ensure a safe and meaningful return to celebrating our faith.
I feel very confident with my parishioners of OLPH. I am sure they will listen to Jesus’ evangelical command: “love your neighbor as you love yourself’; consider your neighbor’s safety as important as your own safety.
Respectfully and fraternally,
Rev. Hector Cruz, S.M.
P.S. **All those who are ADMINISTERING communion shall wear a FACE MASK while administering communion.**