November 12, 2020
I pray that this letter finds you well. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with our parishes’ liturgy committee. Upon their recommendation, I am writing to announce how our parishes will systematically apply protocols in our public liturgies beginning immediately. Those protocols are outlined following this letter and are based entirely upon the color-coding system of Indiana counties overseen by the Indiana Department of Health, which is updated each Wednesday.
Why do this? As has been our goal since reopening, we want to do everything we can to ensure that parishioners feel safe when they make the decision to come to Mass, participate in Adoration, or come to Confession. I know that, for some, the protocols are frustrating. However, for many parishioners, these measures make the difference when deciding to come to the churches. Without safety protocols, they would choose to stay home.
Secondly, we are going to adopt these protocols because no one wants to give anyone a reason to close down churches. As infection numbers rise, there is a lot of talk about whether or not Indiana will shut down again, and if so, to what degree. If such a horrible thing were to occur again, we will not only insist that we are essential, but that we are also not the problem. I think this plan will be something concrete that we can point to in our effort to stay open.
Also, no one has reported that they have contracted COVID from coming to Mass, Confession, or Adoration at either St. Bridget or St. Gabriel. In fact, no one has reported contracting COVID while attending any parishes’ function, ministry, etc. Any parishioners who have become sick with COVID have contracted it somewhere else and not from coming to church. That’s important for you to know.
As part of this new protocol framework: masks continue to be required, hand sanitizer will still be available upon entering the churches, and we will continue to disinfect the pews. Please do not come to Mass (or any parish function) if you or anyone in your household is symptomatic or have had close exposure to the virus. If you do contract COVID-19 and have attended Mass or an event at either of our parishes, you must contact the parishes’ office so that we can inform others who may have been exposed. We will continue to not require Mass reservations unless there develops a good reason, or necessity, to bring that system back.
It is great to see so many parishioners returning to Mass, Confession, Adoration, and other functions at our parishes and I hope these efforts allow for that to continue. Thank you for showing great flexibility with each change – your continued cooperation and patience is deeply appreciated. Let us pray for the COVID-19 situation to improve in our counties, and, indeed, throughout the world. Know of my prayers for you!
Fr. Dustin Boehm
St. Gabriel and St. Bridget COVID Mass Plan
St. Gabriel and St. Bridget will be operating in union with the color-coded system published by the Indiana Department of Health, as outlined below.
Under any stage – Masks will be required. Hand sanitizer will be available at entrances. Stay home if you or anyone in your household is symptomatic or have had a close exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID.
- Red/Orange – Every other pew will be roped off. Ushers will directly seat parishioners as they arrive. Communion will continue to be distributed during Mass, as long as everyone leaves the church building immediately after Mass. No congregating inside. Recommendation: If you can attend Mass either during the week or on Saturday evening, please consider doing so in order to relieve pressure off of the Sunday morning Masses.
- Yellow – Every other pew will be roped off. Parishioners will be able to seat themselves starting from the front to the back, within social distance guidelines. Ushers will assist as needed. Communion will continue to be distributed during Mass. Socially distanced congregating after Mass is permitted.
- Blue – Parishioners will be seating themselves from front to back according to social distance guidelines, without roped pews. Communion will be during Mass.
Upon weekly publication of the Color Stages for Fayette and Union Counties, the Color will be posted on the doors to the churches, on our website, and social media to communicate possible changes to Mass protocol for the upcoming weekend.
If Fayette and Union Counties have different color levels, both parishes will be operating under the most restrictive color stage between the two.