Tuesday, July 28, 2020
I do pray that this letter finds you well and at peace in the Lord during these times. My last letter to parishioners on May 12, 2020 largely described our re-open procedures and guiding policies through August 15, 2020. In this letter, I will update some of those policies, spell out those that remain unchanged, and introduce our new Weekday Mass schedule. It is important to remember that any policy the Archdiocese puts forth after the publication of this letter would supersede any relevant policy herein. Before I begin with the updated policies, I first wish to offer a sincere thank you to those who have returned to Mass and encouragement to those that have been unable to do so.
It seems like this upcoming semester, and perhaps beyond, will largely be a continuation of this new normal: protocols, fluidity, the unexpected, and politics. No matter what comes our way in the coming months, Jesus Christ remains Lord of our lives and He continues to invite us to rest in His never-changing love through His love-poured-out in and through the Catholic Church. Therefore, returning to church and the Sacraments should be our highest priority – even if it’s not possible yet for some. After all, “No one comes to the Father except through Jesus” (John 14:6). We cannot know the gift of salvation the Father bestows without Christ, and we will never know Christ fully except through His Sacramental love poured out in the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, we will lose our relationship with Christ and (by extension) the gift of God’s salvation if we do not make a return to the Sacraments – especially the Eucharist/Mass and Confession.
For some, returning to Mass remains a grave risk and an impossibility right now. I simply ask that those in this camp hang tough, keep praying, and continue to prioritize a return to church when it is safe to do so. For others, I am very confused about why you remain away. This is the group who has not been to Church since quarantine, and yet has traveled for vacation, returned to places of work, has eaten at restaurants, have hung out at the K. of C. and other similar establishments, received haircuts, spent ample time in grocery stores, attended funerals or visitations, and in-person meetings, etc. While no one is required to come to Mass during this time, I fear that the significance and importance of Mass is no longer a priority for some as it once was. I certainly do encourage those who spend more than 30-minutes in public places to sincerely consider returning to church at least once per week and sincerely invite you to reflect on why you have not returned.
Of course, there are many commonsense exceptions to this encouragement. For instance: age, underlying health conditions, caring regularly for an at-risk parent/child, you or someone in your household is sick or displaying symptoms of COVID-19, etc. Folks in these circumstances are making good decisions to stay away for now. But everyone else, if there are other things our parishes could do that would help you feel better about returning to the Sacraments, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly or any of our parishes’ staff. As it stands, I believe that our parishes are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everyone coming onto our campuses.
Thank you to all of our many Disinfecting Team, Usher and Cleaning Team volunteers who make our public celebration of Masses possible. Thank you to all of our parishioners for exercising great patience as we have navigated the reopening and dealt with many changes to our Liturgies. We will continue to keep you updated to any changes to policies that may come and appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we move forward.
Further Takeaways Articulated Below
- New Daily Mass and Confession Schedule
- Masks are required
- Mass Reservations Continue to be Required
- School Mass Protocols
As always, know of my prayers.
Fr. Dustin Boehm
Sunday/Holy Day Obligation to Attend Mass:
As we know, Archbishop Charles Thompson has temporarily lifted the obligation for Catholics to attend Sunday Mass and Holy days of obligation until August 15, 2020. In other words, Catholics have not been required to come to Masses on Saturday evenings or Sundays. I understand that the Bishops of Indiana are currently discussing whether or not to extend the lifting of the obligation beyond August 15, however, no pronouncement has been given as of this writing. I’ll continue to keep the parishes updated through email and through Mass announcements, which can be seen live or in replay through our parishes’ YouTube channel.
Attending Mass in person: Face Masks Required
- Parishioners may attend as many Masses as they wish each week.
- Parishioners of any age may attend Mass unless they are sick, and in particular, displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
- It continues to be the recommendation of the Archdiocese that certain populations of parishioners not attend Mass, namely those who are 65 or older, or those with underlying health conditions. For such folks, I recommend watching Mass through livestream, EWTN, etc. However, a number of parishioners who are 65 or older have returned to attending Masses regularly and feel safe in that decision.
- The requirement to sign-up for the Mass(es) you wish to attend continues to be in effect. A parishioner can do this by calling the parishes’ office (825-8578), or signing up online: WWW.STGABRIELCONNERSVILLE.ORG/MASS-RESERVATIONS
- Per Governor Holcomb’s executive order, masks are required throughout the state in indoor public places as of Monday, July 27, 2020. As such, masks are now mandatory for attending Mass for all adults and any youth in 3rd grade and above. Unfortunately, we will not be allowing exceptions to this requirement.
- If you are unable to wear a mask for any reason, you are currently exempted from in-person attendance at Mass by Archbishop Thompson, and myself as your pastor. You are invited, and would be best served, to remain home and participate virtually in Mass online, as available, and/or find some other spiritually beneficial way to “Honor the Lord’s Day,” such as reading the Sunday readings or praying the Rosary. Know of my prayers.
- Our parishes’ volunteers will continue to disinfect after Masses and usher parishioners to seats.
- While you may wish to sit elsewhere, please continue to sit where directed by the ushers as they try to maximize church capacity, maintain social distancing, and minimize the post-Mass disinfecting.
- Our parishes will continue to practice social distancing until we are informed by the Archdiocese that this is no longer required.
- When social distancing ceases to be required or whenever the Sunday obligation is reinstated (whichever happens first), our parishes will resume the distribution of Holy Communion at the normal time. Until then, it will continue to be our parishes’ practice of distributing Holy Communion after the final blessing, and that parishioners must depart the church after they come forward during the distribution of Holy Communion. The Precious Blood will continue to be suspended at least through the end of the next Flu season.
- The Sign of Peace, hand-holding, and Holy Water remain suspended until further notice.
- Liturgical Ministry positions will continue to be limited until otherwise directed by the Archdiocese. However, beginning with the August 11 Mass, Lectors and MCs/Altar Servers will be able to sign-up to volunteer for open positions using MSP.
Mass & Confession Schedule: Face Masks Required
St. Gabriel and St. Bridget will alter the Daily Mass schedule in order to accommodate the St. Gabriel School children attending Mass each Tuesday and Thursday morning.
The following schedule is effective as of Tuesday, August 11, 2020:
St. Gabriel School Masses: Face Masks Required
- We will continue to have two school Masses each week. Half of the students will come to church while the other half participates in their classrooms through livestream. As of now, 4th through 6th grades will be attending on Tuesdays with 1st through 3rd grades attending on Thursdays.
- Parishioners are welcome to attend Masses with school children provided they make a reservation.
- Parents or grandparents of school children who wish for their student(s) to sit with them need to notify the teacher(s). The student will remain in the back of church until their parent/grandparent meets them and then they will be ushered to a pew together.
Livestreaming of Masses
- Beginning August 11, we will only livestream St. Gabriel School Masses, which generally take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and we will continue to livestream one weekend Mass – typically the 10:30 AM Sunday Mass.
Funeral Masses: Face Masks Required
- Beginning August 15, our parishes will welcome anyone wishing to attend a funeral Mass.
- Bereavement meals are still suspended.
- Beginning August 15, livestreaming funerals will only be available upon request of the family.
Adoration: Face Masks Required
- Adoration will continue to be offered each Tuesday. Beginning August 11, Adoration will change back to 6:00-8:00 PM, except for the First Tuesday of each month which will remain as All-Day Adoration.
- All-Day Adoration on First Tuesdays will start at 10:30 AM in order to allow the disinfectant to dry after the 8:30 AM Mass.
- You may come and go to Adoration as you wish. Reservations for Adoration are not required.
- Bags with disinfecting wipes and worship aids for Adoration are available at the 9th Street and Ramp Door entrances. Please take a bag with you to your pew and use the wipe to clean whatever you have touched during your prayer time (back of pew, armrests, etc.). Trash receptacles are provided at the doors to dispose of the bags, wipes and worship aids, etc.
Parish Meetings: Face Masks Required
- Meetings may continue to take place on our campuses. However, the area(s) used must be disinfected afterward and masks must be worn if the meeting is indoors.
- For meetings in the parishes’ office, there are copies of a new disinfecting protocol as well as a sign-in sheet.
- The School remains off-limits for meetings at this time.
- No use of the gym, cafeteria or multi-purpose room is allowed until further notice.
Parish Office: Face Masks Required
- The Parish Office will continue to operate on an Appointment Only basis until further notice.
- Please call (825-8578) or email one of the staff members to arrange time to stop by should your business require a visit.
- Doors are locked to help control how many people enter at a time and to give time for disinfecting between visits.