Thursday, May 21, 2020
Dear St. Catherine Parish Family,

Recently, as you know, the archdiocese released a memo directing pastors to make plans to begin to reopen our facilities and resume public Masses and other liturgies.  You can read the complete memo here. Although the archdiocese has indicated that parishes may begin to open up our churches and resume public Masses beginning May 25th, while maintaining appropriate social distancing and sanitization measures, I know that many people are still concerned about potential contagion. It is my desire to reduce the risk and the fear of contagion as much as possible, so that people who would like to return to Mass feel reasonably comfortable doing so.  Consequently, what I have decided to do is hold Masses outdoors for the time being beginning this Monday, May 25th (Confessions and Adoration will also be held outdoors). 

As you know, the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation remains in place at least through June 28th, and we will continue to live stream a Mass for those who wish to watch a Mass online (all weekday Masses and Sunday Mass at 9:30am and 1:30pm will be live streamed), but for those who would like to attend Mass in person, I believe that this setting of Mass outdoors will reduce the risk of contagion significantly. Specifically, parishioners will bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets and will be able to spread out on the field. There will be no reason to touch anything that anyone else has touched or violate social distancing protocols. Please refer to the specific information below, so that we can implement this plan in as orderly a manner as possible and ensure the safety of our parishioners. 

General Mass Logistics and Protocols
Precautionary measures for Mass previously in place will remain in effect (suspension of administration of the Precious Blood and the sign of peace, as well as the cessation of holding hands during the Our Father). Additionally, congregational singing will be kept at a minimum.

As a reminder, those who are not feeling well should remain at home out of concern for others, and those who are at higher risk or are concerned that their family might become sick by attending Mass should remain at home and are encouraged to watch Mass online.  

Because Mass will be outdoors, attendees should bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets for seating. You may also want to bring a foam pad if you would like to kneel. Although we have a backup location if the weather is poor, you may want to also bring an umbrella to protect from the sun or unexpected rain. Please remember that even though Mass will be held outdoors, appropriate dress should still be worn. T-shirts and flip flops would not be appropriate for attendance at Mass. Dress shorts and hats are appropriate, however, under the current circumstances.

Please note that archdiocesan regulations indicate that all individuals attending Mass are strongly urged to wear a face mask (except during the time that they receive Holy Communion), although masks are not required for Masses outdoors. Parents should judge whether or not it is appropriate for their young children to wear a mask. Those not wearing a mask should be sure to maintain strict social distancing at all times. If you are in need of a mask, they may be purchased from several online retailers including Amazon, or if needed, we can supply you with one as you enter.

Sunday Mass Logistics (Mass on the Field)
Masses will be celebrated on Sunday for our parishioners outside on the large field next to the parish hall in English at 9:30am (will also be live streamed), 11:30am, and 5:00pm, and in Spanish at 1:30pm (will also be live streamed). The time changes are necessary to allow for longer communion distribution and entry and exit times. At present, we will not have a Saturday Vigil Mass or an earlier Mass on Sundays, considering the amount of time that will be required for the liturgical and sound system setup as well as the noise that might be audible to our neighbors so early in the morning. If additional Masses are required, or if the current times are not favorable because of the heat, I will reevaluate the schedule.

There will be two entry/exit points for the Masses on the field. One entry/exit is located on the backside of the parish hall via the patio (walk to the backside of the parish hall using the path between the gym and the parish hall). The other entry/exit is located near the main doors on the front side of the parish hall (steps leading down to the field). Ushers will be at all Masses directing people to particular entrances/exits to avoid bottlenecks. Before and after Mass, parishioners should not break social distancing protocols when interacting with other parishioners and should try to enter and exit in an orderly way maintaining appropriate distance with others.    

Offertory baskets will be located at the entry/exit points for parishioners to drop off offerings when entering or exiting (baskets will not be passed around during Mass). Parishioners may also use Text to Give by texting the donation amount to 770-343-5585.

Restrooms will be available for use in the parish hall (the church will not be open during Sunday Masses). An usher will control them numbers entering the restroom at the same time to ensure proper social distancing. 

If weather prohibits us from having Mass on the field, we will move Mass into the parish hall (parishioners will still need to bring their own seating). If the parish hall does not provide sufficient space to accommodate the numbers of people safely, individuals may be asked to move to overflow space on the covered patio and watch the Mass on the television screen, and communion will be brought out to them. 

Weekday Mass Logistics (Mass on the Parish Hall Patio) 
Masses during the week will be offered on the parish hall patio Monday-Friday at 9:00am and Saturday at 8:30 in English, as well as Wednesday at 5:30pm in Spanish. Attendees should bring their own lawn chairs and should enter the patio from the outside via the gate which can be accessed from the path between the school gym and the parish hall (do not enter through the parish hall itself).

Reception of Holy Communion at All Masses
Holy Communion will be distributed by the ministers who will come out into the crowd (parishioners should stay in their places). Those who are not able or are uncomfortable receiving Holy Communion may cross their arms over their chest to indicate this. Those who are receiving Holy Communion may receive by hand or on the tongue. Parishioners should try to sanitize their own hands immediately before the distribution of Holy Communion begins using their own alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes and should avoid coughing or sneezing if possible after that point. (The ministers will follow the same directives and will wear masks as well.)

When the minister comes to distribute Holy Communion, the recipient should make a “throne” with their hands (place one hand on top of the other completely straight and flat), and the minister will drop the host on their hand. If the communicant is receiving on the tongue, they should make sure not to move their head while the minister is placing the host on their tongue, so as to minimize the risk of the minister touching their tongue. If the minister does touch the hand or the tongue of the communicant, they will immediately sanitize their hands. 

Communion to the Homebound
Those who are trained extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may take Holy Communion to the homebound. They should meet the deacon after Mass on the patio to retrieve host(s). EMHCs must supply their own pyx.

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
The church will continue to remain closed; however, we will be reserving the blessed sacrament in a tabernacle located in the conference room of the parish hall which will allow individuals to make a visit to the blessed sacrament on the patio (there are large windows looking out from the conference room to the patio). The patio will be open Monday-Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm, and Wednesday 8:00am-7:00pm. Please note that often on Friday mornings from about 10:00am-12:00pm, there may be lawn maintenance that occurs which may be a distraction to prayer. As a reminder, please make sure to bring your own seating or kneeling pads. 

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Rosary
Our Perpetual Adoration Chapel will remain closed for the time being; however, we will continue to have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and will pray the Rosary on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:00pm in the Mary Garden.

Confessions in English and Spanish
We will resume our regularly scheduled Confession times on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:00pm and Saturdays from 9:00-10:00am and 3:00-4:00pm in the Mary Garden. Masks are not required for Confessions outdoors; however, please make sure to keep strict social distancing while waiting in line.

First Communions
We will be offering several special Masses throughout the month of June for our children who had been preparing for their First Communion this year. Parents will receive an email very soon with the details. Parents of children who were prepared for First Communion, however, may choose to allow their child to receive their “first communion” at any Mass at St. Catherine’s if they are unable to attend one of the special Masses. 

Baptisms and Funerals
Baptisms and Funerals may be scheduled in the church and chapel; however, strict social distancing protocols will be followed and numbers of attendees may be restricted.

Schedule Recap (Beginning May 25th)
- Daily Masses on the Parish Hall Patio – Monday-Friday 9:00am (English), Saturday 8:30am (English), Wednesday 5:30pm (Spanish) – All Daily Masses will be live streamed.
- Sunday Masses on the Field – 9:30am, 11:30am, 5:00pm (English); 1:30pm (Spanish) – 9:30am and 1:30pm Masses will also be live streamed.
- Confessions in the Mary Garden – Wednesday 6:00-7:00pm, Saturday 9:00-10:00am and 3:00-4:00pm (All in English in Spanish)
- Exposition and Adoration in the Mary Garden – Wednesday 6:00-7:00pm (Rosary at 6:30pm)
- Visits to the Blessed Sacrament on the Parish Hall Patio – Monday-Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm, and Wednesday 8:00am-7:00pm 

Reminder of Items to Bring for Mass
-Lawn chairs and/or towels for seating on the field and patio.
-Hand sanitizer or wipes
-Face mask
-Umbrella for shelter against sun or rain
-Water to keep hydrated in the heat
Thank you all for your patience and support as we begin to resume our liturgies. I know this has been a trying time for many of you, and I am really excited to be able to come back together to celebrate the sacraments. Please know of my prayers for all of you. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Neil