My brothers and sisters in Christ,
On Wednesday afternoon, Cardinal DiNardo communicated to our local church an update to the COVID-19 safety protocols that have governed our activities throughout the pandemic. In light of the number of people now vaccinated and the significant reduction in the number of severe cases, he has decreed, effective Saturday evening with the celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost, that all occupancy limitations will now be lifted (pews will no longer be blocked off). While masks are still encouraged, especially for those not yet vaccinated, they will not be required for entry or presence in the church, with the exception of ministers distributing Holy Communion.
Additionally, while Holy Communion will still only be offered under one Eucharistic species for the time being (the chalice will not be offered), Holy Communion may now be received on the tongue once again at the discretion of the communicant.
This news is exciting for many who long for more “normalcy” at Mass, but I also realize that there are some who will receive this news with trepidation. Fortunately, we are blessed as a parish to have a very large occupancy and we can therefore make a lot of accommodations. Therefore, I have made the decision to designate the Marian transept (the area to the left if you are facing the altar and sanctuary) as a social distancing zone. For those who may be still greatly concerned about their safety when attending Mass, this area will be designated as requiring social distancing to allow these guests to be more comfortable. Additionally, there is a separate exit out of the back of the church from this transept that can be used if there is a desire to avoid crowds while departing. I would ask that others be respectful of this space, as the rest of the church (the entire nave and the Sacred Heart transept) will be completely open to accommodate the majority of the faithful. I hope that this designation will allow all to attend Mass at their comfort level.
This time of pandemic has been very trying and we cannot forget to continue to accompany those who have suffered tremendous loss or hardship. May we continue to pray for all those afflicted and sick and look with joy and renewed hope to the continued healing of our community and resuming of those activities that build up the Body of Christ. With assurance of my prayers, I remain