Dear St Margaret Mary,
You may have heard that governor had issued a new directive that allows us to move forward. As soon as we have enough volunteers in place and have concretely determined exactly how to carry out the liturgy with safety we can begin. But I cannot at this time tell you when that will be or the number of Masses we can provide. That is all being worked out.
It is important to reiterate that we are not recommending that anyone come to Mass as odd as this may sound. The truth is any father of people constitutes a risk and you are taking a risk to gather. Also because we need to limit each celebration we need a invitation system which we have not yet decided on. Our first goal will be at least one Sunday Mass. When we get enough volunteers we can do two Sunday Masses and then one or two Saturday Masses. It will be a very different experience but it will have its own beauty and grace. God makes this happen.
We will be in touch. Be skeptical of rumors. Many people misunderstand what they hear or pass on someone else’s misunderstanding, so be skeptical.
Two letters from our bishop can be read by clicking the links below..
Still missing you,
May 21, 2020 – Fr. Paul
Dear St Margaret Mary,
I hope you are all well and reasonably content. Our bishop has shared with us a multi-phased plan for reopening our churches.
Phase I allows for reopening for Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals and Reconciliation with a limit of ten attendees. We are already at phase I except for Reconciliation.
Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of ten or fewer.
Phase II allows for reopening for weekend and weekday Masses for larger groups depending on size of church space. Our space can fit 850 so about 10% to 15% of that will be allowed. This is a guess the State of Illinois has not finalized the guidelines.
It will be important for us keep health and and safety as the priorities while maintaining due respect and reverence for our sacraments and liturgies. We are assembling a parish leadership team that will lead or efforts after participating in required training programs. This is important to assure that we conform to the norms established by the diocese in conjunction with public health authorities. We have to obtain supplies of cleaning materials and protective gear.
We will need volunteers to assist in many ways. Importantly, leadership team members and volunteers must not be part of the vulnerable population or suffer from underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung pathologies, cancer etc. Those who are over sixty should consult with leadership team. But I ask that those younger than sixty and healthy and having no underlying health problems to consider helping with one of the three re-opening teams. I especially encourage high school, college students as well as young adults to volunteers for these teams. They are:
• Set-up team: Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies needed for each sacramental gathering are ready for use, entrances and exits marked, etc.
• Greeting team: Sample duties include assisting in managing the flow in and out of church, making sure attendees use sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, reminding people not to enter if ill, and getting people seated [more or less assigned seating].
• Cleaning team: This has to do with disinfecting areas used before and after services. Masks and gloves and cleaning supplies obviously will be provided.
As I mentioned all teams members will be trained and this is already in process. Once we complete the process, we will have to complete all the tasks assigned in order to qualify for reopening. Each parish will move at its own pace. Following our certification approval we will only open our doors when the Leadership Team and I are confident that we have the right volunteers in place to make reopening possible. Again the need for help from you cannot be overstated.
Because we must limit the number at Mass, we need an on-line registration, although we will also accept phone ins. I will write to you later about this.
The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our wellbeing and that of the broader community. We are our brother’s keeper. Jesus commanded us to love one another as he did which requires infinite patience, forbearance and willingness to extend ourselves for the wellbeing of others.
Needless to say there is no absolute assurance when we will reopen nor that we will qualify, but I am reasonably sure we will.
The times of weekend Masses will have to be altered since I am alone and all my helpers are older than I and even I am in the “vulnerable” category.
We are looking to have two Saturday afternoon Masses, one at 3pm and one at 5pm. Two Sunday morning Masses, one at 9am one at 11am. That is providing we get enough volunteers for those times.
Thank you. I know we will get through this together.
May 16, 2020 – Fr. Paul
Dear St. Margaret Mary,
The dioceses of Illinois are working to reopen the churches but this is a very onerous task. We have to follow guidelines laid down for the prevention of the spread of this dangerous virus. Therefore we need to maintain distance which means only 10% to 15% of our capacity can be utilized. We need a way of selecting ahead of time the exact number we can fit. We need volunteers to make sure only people with reservations come or we will over play out capacity. We need a clean up crew after every Mass to sanitize the pews etc. And none of this will take place until there is a downturn in the number of infections. So we will all need the fruit of patience from the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile the bishop stresses that vulnerable people should not risk coming to Mass. The normal obligation to participate in Mass has been suspended and will remain so for some time. Enclosed are two letters from the bishop.