I pray you and your family in good health and hopeful spirit, despite the trying conditions placed on us by the Coronavirus pandemic.
With the announcement from Governor Justice of a phased reopening that allows for a return to public worship, the Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, has released directives we must follow as we begin celebrating public Masses in our churches. His directives outline “prudent restrictions” while respecting the “Holy Eucharist and the powerful liturgical and sacramental symbolism of the rites we celebrate.” This Bishop stressed that “failure to comply with these directives can result in the closure of a church.”
At Sacred Heart of Mary Church, public worship will resume this weekend, according to the normal schedule, with Mass on Saturday, May 23, at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 24, at 9:00 a.m. Both of those Masses will be live-streamed to the Parish Facebook Group page.
Please review the following “rules” as you prepare to attend Mass. They may create inconveniences, but they may also present opportunities for us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and to “bear patiently with one another” as we ensure a safe environment for worship.
1. The faithful of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.
a. If you are in the vulnerable category (over 65, underlying health conditions), you are encouraged to remain at home.
b. If you are fearful about attending Mass because of the spread of the Coronavirus, you should remain at home.
c. If you feel sick in any way or have a cough, please remain at home.
d. We will continue to live-stream the Weekend Masses to the Sacred Heart of Mary Group Facebook page. Contact the Office for more information.
2. All who attend Mass must comply:
a. Do NOT congregate on the church property (indoors or outdoors).
b. Practice social distancing (SIX feet of separation) at ALL times. Tape indicates proper spacing: YELLOW on floors and BLUE on pews.
c. Sanitize hands at the “station” in the vestibule as you enter the building (at RED tape).
d. Always wear a cloth face mask in the building, except at moment of Holy Communion. (Does not apply to those under age 2 or with breathing problems.)
e. WAIT in vestibule to be seated by an Usher. The church seating capacity is reduced to about 50-75 people (to comply with social distancing), so Ushers will seat you from front pews to back pews for maximum use of seating. Kindly adapt to the idea that you may not sit in your “normal” seat.
f. Deposit your Offertory Envelope in the Basket as you enter the church space.. The Offertory Collection and Presentation of Gifts is omitted.
g. Holy Water, Hymnals, and paper response aides were removed.
h. The holding of hands during the “Lord’s Prayer” is strictly forbidden.. The exchange of peace is omitted.
j. Holy Communion will be distributed only under the form of Bread – the Sacred Body.
k. WAIT in pews for Holy Communion until an Usher directs your Section / Pew.
i.Keep your Mask ON; Walk to the Center Aisle, single file; WAIT on the YELLOW tape.
ii. STOP at the RED tape near the Priest.
iii. After the Priest says “The Body of Christ”, reply “Amen” and prepare to receiveIn the hand:
1. Extend arms, open hand fully, accept the host.
2. Step to the side, lower your mask, consume the host, replace your mask.
v. On the tongue:
1. Lower your mask, extend your tongue fully, move to the side, replace your mask.
2. NOTE: “The Priest must sanitize his hands after each person receives on tongue.”
l. WAIT in pews after Closing Hymn. An Usher will direct you to leave from back pews to front pews to facilitate social distancing. Kindly adapt to this practice.
m. You may pick up a Bulletin as you exit the building. Ushers will NOT pass these out.
3. Overflow Seating for Mass will be available in the Library (about 14 people).
a. The Mass will be live-streamed to the TV there.
b. ALL “rules” listed at #2 above apply to the Overflow Seating area.
c. Ushers will direct you from that area to the church for Holy Communion.
4. When our seating capacity is reached, the church doors will be locked and a sign will be posted on the door. We apologize in advance for this required restriction.
5. Arriving early may help ease the process of entering the building as described above. The churchdoors will be unlocked 45 minutes before Mass time. Please be patient with the process.
I realize these restrictions might elevate stress levels in an already highly tense environment. TheBishop would not ask us to do this unless he was convinced that it was absolutely necessary for ourwell-being. Please maintain your faith in God and practice patience and understanding with each otheras we move forward together.
Yours in Christ,
Very Rev. Fr. Dennis R. Schuelkens, Jr., Pastor