Weekly message from Father Grimes
Governor Baker has allowed churches to reopen as long as they meet strict health safety protocols. This is a twofold message regarding Parish openings. Cardinal Sean O'Malley heard both aspects of the Governor's message: Parishes can reopen but they must first have the required safety protocols in place. The message from the Cardinal and his reopening team assures us that the safety of parishioners, priests and staff must be a top priority.
The soonest any Catholic Church can resume public Masses is the afternoon of Saturday, May 23. However, we must first pass a test and checklist showing that all the preparations required by both the State and Archdiocese have been completed. These requirements are extensive and intensive. Please read these requirements in the below attachment. Once all these requirements have been completed, then we can apply to the Regional Bishop for permission to open at 40% capacity. This presents a challenge since while we cannot exceed 40% capacity at a given Mass, we must also maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet (which may result in less than 40% capacity).
Our Regional Bishop, Robert Reed has given us this advice, "there need not be a rush to open this coming weekend, unless you feel it is possible and the guidelines can be followed strictly."
It is clear then that the timing for resuming public Masses is not as simple as turning a key to unlock church doors. The consistent message from the Cardinal, his reopening task force and the Regional Bishop is: do it slowly, do it safely and do it right. The coronavirus has not gone away and the safety of all matters most.
While this guiding principle applies to every parish, it is especially true for collaboratives like Most Precious Blood and Saint Theresa where two or more churches are involved. In light of this, advice from Fr. Paul Soper from the Cardinal's task force is that Parish openings will look differently throughout the Archdiocese. He adds, "Do it slowly, do it safely and do it right."
With safety as a major concern both the State and Archdiocese urge those over 65 years old and/or with underlying health problems, NOT to return to Mass or otherwise venture out in public at this Phase One of reopening. The Cardinal has extended the dispensation of the Sunday Mass requirement during this pandemic. Parishioners with age and health concerns, those living with or caring for vulnerable family members, as well as any parishioner who is not comfortable returning to Mass at this time, are encouraged to continue watching Mass on television and using the resources sent out by our staff through e-mails for their spiritual growth. Be safe. Stay healthy.
Please know that our parish staff and I have already begun to work on the long list of safety requirements for reopening. We cannot wait to welcome you back to Mass. We will update you regularly on progress being made. Your presence at Mass and parish programs has been greatly missed. You can be assured that when MPB and STP reopen for public Mass, it will be done in compliance with the safety rules we have received, and with concern for the health of all those who come to Mass in our collaborative.
May I thank you again for your ongoing financial support of our parish collaborative. Your commitment to PSP at STP, Mail-In/Drop-Off Offertory envelopes at MPB or participation through We Share at [email protected], Automatic Giving, at both parishes is really needed. I am truly grateful to all those who have so generously kept up their parish support during these pandemic days.
The Archdiocesan list of requirements is provided below. Please read it carefully, because as you can see - a lot of the safety behavior at Mass will involve each parishioner.
May God keep you and yours physically healthy and spiritually safe!