I want to take this opportunity with our entire pastoral staff to thank you all for the wonderful ways you have continued to support our parish, cooperating with the various new processes we have initiated and especially helping to initiate the reopening of our parish liturgy these past few weeks. I am happy to announce that we are ready to take the next steps in this careful process. Archbishop Blair has announced that public Masses on Sundays can begin on the weekend of July 4-5. Our planning process continues to be guided by and in accordance with the regulations set by the Center for Disease Control, the State of Connecticut and the Archdiocese of Hartford. Please consult the graphic in the bulletin for specific safety guidelines.
Our Mass schedule for weekends beginning July 4-5 will be as follows: Saturday Vigil Mass 5 PM; Sunday Morning Masses at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM. The 8:30 AM Mass will be live-streamed at (shcsouthbury.online.church, Facebook and website) and Sunday evening Mass at 5 PM. (There will be no music at this Mass.)
Attendance at each of these Masses will be limited to 100 people. All those attending are required to wear masks and keep social distance. Please continue to make reservations through “EventBrite,” using the link above to reserve a place and receive your ticket. If you have no computer or cannot use one, please call our parish office to reserve your place. Please consult the same page on our website for access to a description and video of procedures for attendance at these Masses. We also have these written procedures available through the parish office.
For safety purposes and following archdiocesan guidelines there will be no singing for now at the Saturday Vigil and Sunday morning Masses other than by the cantor and accompanist. For the same reason, there will be no ROC Masses nor will our wonderful choir sing at any Masses through the summer months. We look forward to the return of these popular parts of our worship ministry once circumstances allow it.
As you can well imagine our return to public weekend Masses will call for a team of volunteers to take on one of the many tasks involved in making such celebrations possible while safeguarding the health and safety of all. In addition to liturgical ministers (readers, ministers of Communion, etc.) we will need:
• Hospitality ministers who would welcome and keep record of people as they come to each Mass
• Hospitality ministers to usher/guide people to their seats at social distance from others and to coordinate in a safe and orderly manner those going to Communion.
We will train any of you who volunteer for these ministries for our community. You will find it helpful to attend one of the weekday Masses these next 2 weeks where you can observe our staff who presently serve in these roles in order to understand what they entail. If that is not possible, please contact Mary Korsu at our parish office to arrange a particular training. They are simple ministries, but they are necessary and new to all of us in these circumstances.
It will also be important, given the limited number of people who can attend Masses by state regulation, that you arrive at least 15 minutes before Mass begins in order to facilitate a safe and orderly seating and celebration of Mass.
In light of the very limited number of parishioners attending Mass on weekdays these past three weeks, we will continue to celebrate Mass only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. However, these Masses will be celebrated at 8:30 AM on those days in the church beginning July 7th. While funeral Masses can now be celebrated, we will not cancel weekday Mass when a funeral occurs, as has been our custom, since attendance at funeral Masses will also be limited to 100 people. Please make a reservation to attend these weekday Masses through “Eventbrite” or through the parish office.
As we have done with our experience of the past three weeks, we will continue to assess the value and viability of this new schedule. Our desire is, first of all, to restore access to the Sunday celebration of Mass/Eucharist for our parish community. In our Catholic tradition, we believe that this sacramental celebration follows Jesus’ command/desire/request, “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19 and I Corinthians 11:25). The Acts of the Apostles, the first history book of the Church, notes that from our very beginning, the Church has regularly gathered for what was then called “the breaking of the bread”. Since those days until now, the celebration of Eucharist has been a central and essential part of the life of the Catholic community of Jesus’ disciples, keeping Jesus’ own life alive in his disciples. So many of you have remarked how you have missed celebrating Mass together and sharing the real presence of Jesus in both the Sacred Scriptures and in the Eucharist with one another in our own sacred space. We have been appropriately cautious in our planning, seeking to safeguard “the common good” of one another and of the larger community in the midst of this pandemic. This is an essential principle of our Catholic faith. We will continue to monitor how this process works and how you respond to this necessarily adapted way of celebrating Mass. Your attendance and participation in our weekend Masses will help us assess our schedule of liturgical celebrations going forward. We welcome your feedback and your continued support.
I call your attention to two particular situations. First of all, we remain unable to bring the Eucharist to the homebound in order to ensure the safety of all especially the elderly and those who are ill. Secondly, with the availability of Sunday Masses, our evening reflections Monday through Friday will end Tuesday, June 30th. We appreciate all of you who have been part of this unique opportunity for a gathering for prayer in the absence of our weekend liturgy. We hope to offer occasional online reflection, prayer and music events.
Sincere thanks to all of you who have so faithfully continued to financially support our parish as we have implemented these new procedures, while at the same time continuing the rest of our parish mission and ministry. Once again, I call your attention to the various new and easy ways you can continue to make your supportive offerings found on the front page of our parish website. Your ongoing support in these extraordinary circumstances is very important.
As always, we trust in God’s great desire that the life of the community of the Church and the mission and ministry of Jesus continues through each of us and through all of us as the Church!