Dear Friends in Christ:
As you know, the Bishops of Illinois recently reached an agreement with the governor’s office for the gradual reopening of our churches for the public celebration of Mass. For the time being, those Masses will be limited to a maximum of ten persons (not counting the priest and assisting staff). Also, for the immediate future, there will be no altar servers or other lay liturgical ministers helping with Mass. Due to the size of our Parish Family, and the fact that many households do not have access to email, St. Mary will be instituting a lottery-system through the Postal Service for anyone who would like to attend one of the Masses. This is the only way to ensure a fair system for now, where everyone who would like to attend Mass has an equal opportunity to do so. In the next few days, every registered household in our parish will receive a letter from me in the mail explaining the details about how to participate in the lottery system, and outlining the protocols you will need to follow if your household is chosen to attend. Thank you, in advance, for your patience with all of this! Our public Masses with ten of the Faithful in attendance will begin on Tuesday, June 2nd, in order to allow adequate time for people to respond through the lottery system.
In the meantime, please do not contact the parish office to “put your name in the hat,” as they say. The only way to be considered for attending Mass at this time will be through the instructions contained in the letter you will receive. (Also, for now, considering the size of our Parish Family, we will need to limit attendance at these Masses to parishioners of St. Mary’s only.) Of course, no one will be obligated to attend Mass, and the Bishop’s dispensation will remain in effect indefinitely. In the meantime, we will continue to live-stream the 7:30 Sunday morning Mass and post it on-line for your weekly participation. The Church will remain open every day for your private prayer from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and confessions will continue at our regularly scheduled times. Please continue to observe social distancing with anyone not from your household while at St. Mary’s, and make sure to wear your mask when in line for confession and whenever social distancing is not possible.
Most of all, thank you for your faithfulness, for your devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ, and for your love for our Catholic faith and our Parish Family! We are truly blessed to be able to call each of you our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please also continue to pray for an end to this pandemic, and for the ability to return larger numbers of people to Mass sooner rather than later. Day by day we are getting closer to that being a reality…praise God! Count on our continued prayers for you, and watch your mailbox for that letter to the registered households of St. Mary’s in the days ahead. God bless you always!