SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Diocese of Springfield plans to resume public Masses on May 23 under full compliance of phase one of the state’s reopening plan.
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, in an email to 22News, said he was pleased to learn that the opening of churches was part of the first phase.
Parishes will be allowed to resume on Saturday, May 23 with the first vigil Mass after 4 p.m., only if all state, municipal and diocesan guidelines have been met. A written assurance must be provided to the Office of the Bishop and receive a response giving permission to resume.
Bishop Rozanski said it is not unreasonable that some parishes may require more time and will not open until the following weekend. He included the following directives:
The previous diocesan restrictions and state guidelines will continue including;
- Omission of the Sign of Peace
- No communion by the cup
- Communion in the hand only
- Holy Water fonts to remain empty and covered
- Social distancing (6ft minimum) to be abided by at all times
- Masks will be required
- Diocesan guidelines issued May 15 2020
Parishes may add weekend liturgies to accommodate the limited allowed capacity, but not before 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Parishes should limit the number of persons involved with liturgy to the priest, a deacon, lector, organist and a cantor- no choir. Eucharistic ministers should only be used to the extent they are needed. And social distancing in the sanctuary must be maintained. For the time being no altar servers.
All members of the congregation need to wear masks and they must put them on prior to leaving their vehicle, with a few exceptions:
- Children under the age of two should not wear masks.
- Parents should judge for children between the ages of two and five whether they should wear a mask.
- All people who claim an exemption because of health can forego wearing a mask. They do not have to provide documentation.
- The priest and others with him in the sanctuary do not need to wear masks in the sanctuary as long as strict socially distancing is maintained. They do have to wear masks when assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion.
We ask that those coming to our churches bring their own hand sanitizer if at all possible. Time must be allocated between Masses and any time the church is open to the public to conduct a cleaning before the next Mass or public use.
Once permission is given to resume public liturgies this will extend to daily Masses as well as funerals and baptisms. The Rite of Reconciliation may also take place with the required 6ft separation and wearing of masks by priests and penitents.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick may resume under the following conditions;
- If this is performed in a hospital or healthcare facility, the guidelines for protective measures, including garments, prevail.
- If this is not performed in a hospital or healthcare facility: If available, latex gloves should be worn unless the patient or priest has an allergic sensitivity to latex. Additionally, if available, protective eye wear (a pair of glasses will suffice) should be worn. Eyeglasses or goggles or eye protectors can be re-used BUT MUST be cleaned immediately after each visit with Lysol/Clorox wipes or washed with soap and water.
- If the priest uses his gloved hand, the glove is to be burned or buried after the visit.
- If Holy Communion is given, it is to be distributed in the hand.
- Maintain social distance (six feet) with everyone in the room, except the patient.
Even with the resumption of public liturgies, those who are most vulnerable should not attend Mass in-person; rather they should continue to watch our televised Mass the “Chalice of Salvation” or their parish’s streaming or cablecast Masses.
The bishop is extending the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass even after we reopen out of an abundance of caution and concern for the most vulnerable who are most susceptible to contract this virus.
Finally all other parish social gatherings are still not allowed as are home visits by pastoral ministers.