May 7, 2020
As you know, our Governor has begun his plan to reopen the state slowly and carefully. In that light, on Wednesday, May 6, the Indiana Bishops released a joint statement concerning the intention for public liturgies to resume no later than May 30 at the Pentecost Vigil Mass. Included in the Indiana Bishops statement were the assurance of precautionary restrictions as well as continuing to remove the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays through August 15.
First, thanks be to God! We will soon have the opportunity to gather as God’s people, receive His Sacramental Graces in Confession and the Eucharist, adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, receive our RCIA Catechumens and Candidates into His Church, and celebrate first Holy Communions. May our hearts be filled with gratitude where there was once great anticipation or even frustration.
Second, there is a good possibility that our churches could be unlocked before May 30. This would mean potential opportunities for private prayer, Confession, and potential for Daily Mass under certain conditions. As far as possibly opening earlier than May 30, we must wait for further communication from the Archdiocese. I remain hopeful these instructions will come soon.
This news should cause great joy within our hearts as we continue throughout this Easter season! However, I must reiterate what we all know: we are in a time of pandemic. We are still at risk. Of course, we remain at risk each time we go to the grocery store or interact with anyone outside of our own homes. Therefore, we must remember that coming to church will carry the risk of contracting COVID-19. Due to this reality, our parishes will be taking great steps to mitigate that risk as much as possible. Coming to church will look and feel very differently for the foreseeable future. Anyone not following required protocols will not be permitted to enter.
I acknowledge that it has not been easy for any of us to discern which expert advice to follow, especially when those experts seem to propose contradicting realities. However, COVID-19 continues to kill people. Many of us may contract this virus and recover fully, yet some of our family and friends would not. It is the duty of all Christians to consider the needs of the community over the individual, while especially considering the most vulnerable among us. We must take every precaution possible to ensure the safety of our parishioners and prevent further spread of the virus. If large numbers of people contract COVID-19 after our counties reopen, it is likely we would be required to return to shelter-in-place. WE, THE CATHOLIC PARISHIONERS OF ST. GABRIEL AND ST. BRIDGET PARISHES, CANNOT BE THE REASON OUR COUNTIES SHUT DOWN AGAIN!
This is my fair warning that anyone coming onto our campus or entering any of our buildings are absolutely required to observe all forthcoming protocols. If you are unable or unwilling to observe the requirements, you need to stay home. In fact, the latter is okay. You are most welcome to join in public liturgies as they are offered over live stream. The obligation for attending Masses continues to be lifted through August 15. No one is currently required to come to Mass, and no one is ever required to go to Mass when they are sick.
Foreseeable protocols for parishioners coming to public liturgies, private prayer, or any event on our campuses:
- Must maintain social distancing measures.
- The CDC continues to advise that people maintain a 6ft distance from each other. This does not apply to family units or those living in the same house together.
- Certain pews will be roped off. Parishioners cannot sit in these rows so that we can maintain social distance between household groups.
- Abide by church occupancy limits as set by the Archdiocese.
- The Archbishop is considering a threshold of church capacity.
- Parishioners may not be able to attend Mass more than once every week or two. We are coming up with ideas to ensure each parishioner has the opportunity to attend Mass as often as possible depending upon Archdiocesan limits
- Sign-up Genius, or other ways to reserve spots in advance, may be required in order to attend a Mass.
- The reception of Holy Communion will be different.
- Fr. Dustin will be the only one to distribute Holy Communion, and the Precious Blood will not be available for distribution.
- We are working on a process that would avoid standing in line for Holy Communion.
- In all likelihood, the reception of Holy Communion will take place immediately after Mass has ended.
- Every precaution allowed by Holy Mother Church will be taken.
- Other potential changes to Mass for the time-being:
- There will be no altar servers.
- There will be no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
- There may be a lector, cantor and organist..
- There will be no Sacristans and the Sacristy is off-limits.
- Masks may be required, pending Archdiocesan directives.
- Hymnals will be removed.
- Congregating before or after Mass will not be permitted.
- The distribution of Precious Blood, Holy Water, holding of hands, Sign of Peace, will not be part of our liturgies.
More information will be provided once we receive finalized direction from the Archdiocese. This is not an exhaustive or finalized list of protocols. We will inform you of additions or changes as soon as possible. If you know of any parishioner that may not be receiving these emails, please communicate this to them.
For the foreseeable future, our lives will not be the same. I understand this is not how any of us would prefer to celebrate Holy Mass and these changes will be uncomfortable for me and for many. However, if following these precautions can keep us directly connected to the Eucharist, then I would hope we would simply observe the requirements. Of course, many of these requirements will be set by the Archdiocese, but among their ranks, as well as our own, we have a lot of good, faithful, and smart people doing their best to make this work. As we make our way back to church, please be patient with me. And in this time, as always, I certainly expect your patience with our parishes’ staff, each other in the parishes, and, especially, any volunteers.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
Fr. Dustin Boehm