St. Cecilia Parish Public Masses
Resumption of Masses with Restrictions and New Policies
Wednesday, May 20th, 2020: St. Cecilia's has received episcopal approval, and public Masses resume on the weekend of May 23/24 as part of a phased plan for full participation in the Liturgy. Dispensation from Mass is still in effect, particularly for those who are older or have other vulnerabilities, but parishioners are invited and welcomed to return to the celebration of Mass according to our usual schedule. Social distancing, use of masks, and other precautions will be effect.
Pending Bishop Reed's approval, we will be starting the opening of the Church Saturday, May 23 for the 4:30pm Mass. - this approval was received 5.20.2020
When can we start Masses?
If a parish within the Archdiocese of Boston, after careful and deliberate preparation, considers that they are able to meet all of the State, Municipal, and Archdiocesan guidelines (given below), they may request permission from their Regional Bishop or Episcopal Vicar to begin Masses as early as Saturday evening, May 23. The Regional Bishop or Episcopal Vicar should grant that permission only if he is convinced that the parish can in fact comply with all of the guidelines.
Many, or even most, parishes may well need more time to prepare, and may choose Sunday, May 31 (the Feast of Pentecost) as the date for their reopening.
Daily Masses and Funerals can resume on Monday, May 25. Both daily Masses and Funerals will need to comply with the same social distancing and safety guidelines as Sunday Masses do, including the wearing of masks.
Who should come to Mass?
The dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation will continue for the foreseeable future.
Cardinal Seán strongly encourages people in vulnerable populations, especially the elderly and those with complicating physical conditions, to continue to watch Mass from their homes, on their parish’s social media or on CatholicTV. We will continue to put the 9am Mass on Facebook Live and post to our website.
Parishes need to have a way of limiting the number of people who come into the church
No matter what option a parish chooses, the pastor must be able to ensure that the size of the congregation in the church is not more than 40% of capacity and not more than the church can fit with social distancing maintained.
If a parish learns that a person who has come to Mass has tested positive for COVID-19, it must notify the Local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town in which the church is located and assist the LBOH as reasonably requested to trace likely contacts and advise contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.
Every parish is encouraged to continue the streaming of their Masses, in order to maintain a relationship with those who are not yet ready to return to Mass.
How do we get ready?
Every parish is encouraged to form a small committee to help to guide the parish through the restart process, and to ensure that all of the criteria, including the check-boxes on the “Places of Worship – MA Safety Department”, are met. Pastors should be sure that that committee has credible, professional, and cautious people on it to help the parish through this transition. In addition to the state check list, there is a check list at the end of this document which may be helpful to the committee.
The church cannot be filled to any greater than 40% of its posted capacity.
No person or household should sit closer than six feet to any other person or household
The Office of Risk Management of the Archdiocese will send out a document very soon on how to clean and disinfect the church adequately, both between the Masses and on a regular basis.
The church needs to be deeply cleaned before the resumption of Masses, in accordance with the methods in the Office of Risk Management document.
A corps of volunteers should be formed and trained to help to direct the flow of people into and out of the church, and to clean the church between the Masses.
All hymnals and missalettes need to be removed from the church.
Holy water fonts will remain empty. A simple and respectful covering could be devised for the fonts.
Signs should be placed inside and outside of the church reminding people of the need to wear masks and to maintain social distancing.
Bathrooms should be clean and accessible, and soap plentiful.
What guidelines do parishioners need to observe while in church?
If parishioners can bring their own bottle of hand sanitizer to the church, they should. Otherwise, they can use sanitizer provided by the parish and positioned at the entry to the church.
All members of the congregation need to wear masks, 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.
- With reasonable exceptions allowed, there should be no public access to the sacristy while the church is open.
- There will be no social gatherings either before or after Mass.
What do we need to do during the Mass to keep it safe?
There should be no processions at the Masses, including no offertory processions.
There should be no altar servers.
Choirs will not be allowed.
Congregational singing will not be allowed in these early days. Fully respectful of the very important role that music plays in our liturgies, and also respectful of the public health concerns, the congregation should be instructed not to sing, either by announcement or by signs. There can be a cantor and an instrumentalist, who would provide music during the Mass.
Masses can have a priest, a deacon, a lector, an instrumentalist, a cantor, and whatever volunteers are necessary to ensure the safe flow of people. If there are to be two communion stations (only in a large church), an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist could be used if there is no deacon.
In the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the lector must respect strict social distancing. They should not wear masks in the sanctuary.
There must be no passing of the basket for the offertory. Instead, a basket could be present at the main entrance and people could put their offering into it on their own.
During the consecration, hosts to be distributed should be placed on a second corporal to the side, so that they are not directly in front of the priest.
There should be no holding of hands during the Our Father.
There should be no invitation to participate in a sign of peace.
For the distribution of Holy Communion:
- There will be either one or two communion stations, depending on the size of the Church.
- It should be announced that parishioners may well decide not to receive Holy Communion if they feel the risk is too high, and that decision will be honored and respected.
- There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.
- The communicants and the priest will wear masks.
- Neither the priest nor the communicants should wear gloves during the distribution of Holy Communion.
- Congregants who are not coming forward to receive Holy Communion or a blessing should still get out of their pews at the beginning, so that no one will have to climb over anyone else.
- The priest will have a table next to him with hand sanitizer.
- The priest will hold the consecrated host over the communicants’ outstretched hands and drop the host into their hands without touching their hands.
- Communicants will receive the consecrated host in their hands, step to the side, lower their mask, consume the host, replace their mask, and return to their pew.
- In the case of unintentional contact, the priest will sanitize his own hands immediately.
- If the priest himself is a member of a vulnerable population, a deacon or a trained lay minister should distribute communion.
- The people should return to their pews by a different route, to avoid contact with approaching people.
- There will be tape on the floor to show where to stand as a communicant approaches to receive communion. There also will be tape on the floor to show where to stand to demask and consume the host, and arrows showing how to return to the pews.
- There should be a couple of minutes after Communion for silent prayer, before the final prayer and dismissal.
Participants at Mass would be encouraged to leave the church within a couple of minutes of the end of the Mass so as to allow for time for cleaning the church before the next Mass. Row by row exiting, directed by the trained volunteers, is encouraged.