September 19 COVID Update from Fr. Max

Dear SMMP Staff & Parishioners,

On August 19, 2021, the Diocese of Joliet issued new covid protocols, emphasizing that these new directives “shall supersede all previously issued guidelines and are subject to revision.”Given the need for clarity and unity in the overall expectations for how this document is to be applied to our parish outside of the liturgy,I am offering a few additional directives.2

1. Masks: Per the recent directives from the Diocese & State of Illinois, masks are required indoors. The exception to wearing a mask applies to staff members who can maintain social distancing while at work.

2. Meeting in person: Since cases have risen, but not quite to what they were last year, and considering we know more about the spread of covid now than we did a year ago, the ideal should still be to meet in person. However, it will ultimately be up to the individual ministry to decide. If ministries decide to meet in person, then they should try to be creative in accommodating those who prefer to meet virtually, such as facilitating a hybrid model. Depending on the size of the group, utilizing larger spaces such as the Upper Room, COR Center, or Parish Center is encouraged, if available.

3. Food: The diocesan directives state that there is to be “no potlucks or family style food.”3 After reaching out to the diocese for further clarification, it was stated that food and beverages may still be served at gatherings. The diocese also clarified that store-bought food is preferable but homemade is still permissible. Any self-serve food should normally be individually wrapped. Food served by someone in a line does not need to be individually wrapped. Those distributing food should be masked to avoid contamination. I will note that there has been some confusion regarding the directives and expectations that are being followed by Religious Education in contrast to the rest of the parish. Religious Education is the exception to these parish directives since they fall under more specific directives from the Diocese of Joliet Catholic Schools Office, issued on August 4, 2021. It is also important to note that children fall under different directives since many have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated, while adults have.

Finally, I understand personal opinions and expectations surrounding covid protocols vary to a great degree and that the topic is at times very sensitive. It is difficult, if not impossible to cater to everyone’s preferences and perspective. I would like to suggest that the one thing that can unite us as a parish family is charity, particularly that of Jesus Christ. As his disciples, we strive to imitate the Master in all that we do. We ought to strive to be charitable toward others as wenavigate through this crisis. This may at times demand great virtue. Of course, at the end of the day, we want this crisis to come to an end, but in the meantime, let’s not sacrifice who we are as Christians!

1 The liturgy has its own set of specific protocols which differ from protocols for parish offices & meetings
2 “Pastors shall decide COVID-19 protocols for parish offices and meetings.” REVISION TO DIOCESE
OF JOLIET COVID-19 PROTOCOLS, pg. 1, August 19, 2021.
3 IBID.

Aug. 27, 2021: Updated COVID-19 Guidance Per Governor’s Statewide Mask Mandate

Gov. J.B. Pritzker yesterday (Aug. 26, 2021) issued Executive Order 2021-20, which calls for all Illinois residents age two or older to wear a mask while in an indoor public space, effective Mon., Aug. 30.
Attendees at Mass and other indoor liturgical celebrations and events will be required to wear a mask, beginning Mon., Aug. 30. All parish and Blanchette Catholic Center employees also must wear a mask in the office when in contact with others. When employees are in their separate workspaces that allow for a distance of at least six feet from others, the mask may be removed.
The executive order also contains directives requiring all public and nonpublic school teachers, staff and volunteers to receive at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days of the order, and to be fully vaccinated within 30 days of the first dose. Those individuals not fully vaccinated within that time frame will be required to undergo at least weekly COVID-19 testing.
We are studying the vaccination order regarding school personnel and will provide clarity as soon as possible, along with other COVID-19 guidance updates in response to your questions.
We appreciate and thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.
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On Thursday, August 19, 2021, the Diocese of Joliet revised their COVID protocols for parishes. The new protocols are minimal, but you will notice some changes at mass this weekend. Below are the protocols which will affect Sunday mass.
  • Masks are recommended by the diocese but not required
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are required to wear masks while distributing Communion and are to sanitize their hands before and after.
  • Congregational singing is not allowed at this time
  • Those receiving Holy Communion on the tongue are asked to come forward to receive last.
All other current practices remain the same. Thank you for your cooperation.

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Please note: on Friday, June 11, we will no longer require registering for weekend Masses and we will be at 100% capacity.

Daily Masses

Daily Masses are be held Mondays – Fridays at 8:15am. There is no Saturday morning Mass except for funerals. We will continue to live stream the daily masses at 8:15 am.

Per the State & Diocese, masks are required beginning August 30.

Weekend Masses

Dispensation from the Sunday obligation remains in place indefinitely. If you are fearful or are reluctant to return to Sunday observance at this time, you should not do so. The faithful are under no moral obligation to attend Mass. Masses will continue to be streamed live Sundays at 9:00am and daily at 8:15am.

We are holding weekend Masses on Saturdays at 5:00pm and Sundays at 9:00am & 11:00am.

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
• Stay home if you are ill
• Make sure you have a face covering to bring and wear

WHEN YOU ARRIVE
• Please leave your offering the the basket in the narthex on the empty Holy Water font
• Keep you face covering on at all times except when consuming the Eucharist

DURING THE SERVICE
• Singing is currently still restricted
• Step to the side after receiving the Eucharist, lower mask and consume

AFTER THE SERVICE
• Face coverings may be removed anytime you are outside

While our parish staff and volunteers are taking appropriate precautions consistent with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guest should understand that they assume the risk of contracting COVID-19 anytime they enter a public space since such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.

We look forward to welcoming you all back to church. With your help and cooperation, we will be able to worship together once again in our beloved church. Remember, because dispensation from the Sunday obligation remains in place, you are under no moral obligation to attend Mass.