From the Pastor | May 21, 2021
I am delighted to bring to your attention the new guidelines for religious services and activities that were released this week by the Archdiocese of New York. Some of them will be readily apparent to you when you enter the church to attend Mass this weekend. The new guidelines are consistent with the recent guidance published by the CDC.
As of this weekend, we will be returning to many of the practices that are familiar to us as the customary way of attending Mass. However, for those individuals who are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated (that is, have not received any doses of the available vaccines, or it has been less than 2 weeks after having received the second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) the Covid-19 protocols for being present in the church are still applicable.
The changes to be instituted as of this weekend are:
• For those who are fully vaccinated, you are not required to wear a face mask or be socially distant from an unrelated person.
• For those who are not fully vaccinated, you are required to wear face masks, remain socially distant from unrelated individuals by 6 feet, and sit in those pews newly designated as the Physical Distance Section.
• Fully vaccinated individuals who wish to continue to wear face masks and maintain social distancing are asked to be seated in the Physical Distance Section.
• The cantor will be in the sanctuary of the church to lead the congregation in song. Congregational singing is permitted. The hymnals have been returned to the pews.
• The choirs will be re-introduced into the different Masses over the next few weeks. Only choir members who are fully vaccinated may participate.
• The presider will sing those parts of the Mass that are followed by a sung response from the congregation.
• The Offertory Procession will be reinstated. The gifts may be brought forward only by fully vaccinated individuals.
• The 11:00 AM Solemn Mass will continue to be livestreamed.
Until further guidance is offered by the Archdiocese, the following practices remain in effect:
• The holy water fonts will remain empty.
• Communion from the chalice will not be offered.
• Communicants will receive the host in their hands, not on the tongue.
• There will be no children’s liturgy of the word at the 9:30 AM Mass.
• There will be no Wallace Hall Family Mass.
• All weekday Masses will be offered in the church. The 5:30 PM Mass will continue to be livestreamed.
• The newly renovated Lady Chapel will be open for private prayer within the next several weeks.
I am also happy to report that the meeting rooms of the Parish House and Wallace Hall are now available for use by the various ministries of the parish. However, the use of the meeting rooms in the Parish House will be limited to those who are fully vaccinated, since the meeting rooms are simply not large enough to accommodate social distancing for those who are not fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination (e.g., Vaccination Record Card or Excelsior Pass) will be required.
With these changes, we may commit ourselves to the belief that things are heading in the direction of being back to normal. In many ways that will be the case, as we once again worship together in a manner so familiar to us. However, the lessons of the pandemic indicate that it would be foolhardy to think that we can simply return to the routine of our pre-pandemic lives. That is certainly true of us as Catholics who strive to live in a way that reflects our faith. The Church must adapt to a post-pandemic world with discernment, relevance, and the audacity of the Gospel. Let us keep in prayer the members of the Parish Strategic Planning Committee as they study the lessons of a very challenging period in our recent history through the lens of faith, that they may offer us a new model of what it means to be Church in a post-pandemic world.
This weekend we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. May the breath of God’s Spirit deepen our faith, increase our trust in God’s providential care for the world God has created, and make us bold in proclaiming God’s kingdom on earth as joyful disciples of Jesus Christ.
God bless you!
Sincerely in the Lord,