Dear Friends in Christ:
As you may know, late last week the governor relaxed the restrictions he had placed on churches regarding the number of people allowed to attend religious services. And I am beyond ecstatic to report that Bishop Malloy has quickly responded by issuing new attendance guidelines for our Diocese earlier this week. As he wrote to we pastors: parishes may now “increase the number of faithful present (at Mass) to a number not to exceed 30% of the seating capacity of the parish church.” Praise God! For us at St. Mary, that means we will be able to welcome more than 300 people at one time! We will begin doing that with the weekend Masses of June 13th and 14th.
This has been a long time in coming; and I cannot begin to express my appreciation and admiration for all the prayers and sacrifices you have been making over these last couple of months in anticipation of this day. Thank you! Thank you for your faithfulness, your fortitude, your love, your devotion to our Parish Family, and your hunger for the Eucharist and our Catholic faith. It is especially appropriate, as well, that we will be gathering around the altar in our beautiful church for the first time in weeks on the Feast of “Corpus Christi,” the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ!
To ensure that we do not go over the maximum number of people at any one Mass, we will begin a new on-line reservation system next week. It is a system that has already been used with great success by many Catholic Churches in other states. More information about that system, as well as about additional protocols for attending Mass, will be shared with you next week via our parish website, and Flock Note, and through your mail box.
Until then, we will continue to have public Masses with 10 people present through the Ticket system we implemented last week. Confessions will still be heard at our regularly scheduled times, and the church will remain open every day from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for your private prayer. And even after we are able to welcome more people to Mass on June 13th and 14th, we will continue to live-stream and post on-line the 7:30 Sunday morning Mass. In addition, the Bishop’s dispensation for Sunday Mass will also remain in effect for anyone who is unable to attend due to their age or health, or uncomfortable with attending at this time. In other words, no one will be obligated to attend Mass at that time.
Thank you again, for your faithfulness and prayers. Of course, let’s continue to pray for an end to the pandemic, for healing for all the sick, and for protection for all those at risk and all health-care professionals. (Please also pray for an end to the civil unrest in our cities, and for a restoration of peace and justice for all people. We have posted a “litany for peace” on the parish website today for that very purpose.) Finally, be resolved to continue all the additional faith and spiritual efforts you have undertaken over these last few weeks! Now is not the time to stop those devotions and prayers and activities, but to attend to them with even more fervor and joy! God bless you all, and I will look forward to seeing you at Mass!