Soon we will gather again for the celebration of Mass. I have heard from many people about their excitement for coming back to church. Though I welcome this excitement, we must continue to exercise extreme caution. This caution needs to be reflected on by everyone. We cannot rush to come to the church without honest self-reflection on one’s own safety and the safety of others. As your pastor, I’m working within established guidelines to provide a safe environment. But ultimately, it’s up to all of us to pay attention and respect the requirements when attending Mass in person. And those who are elderly or have an underlying health condition, please stay home and continue viewing Mass online.
The Sunday Mass obligation remains suspended to protect the health and safety of our parishioners. While I do appreciate the desire by the faithful to return to Mass and receive the Eucharist, there are a few things we should all keep in mind as we approach our reopening. Mass will still be sacred, but the experience will be different.
- Sunday Masses will have limited in seating to adhere to social distancing requirements. If you are a person in good health, you may want to consider a weekday Mass where attendance is significantly lighter. The regular weekday Mass schedule resumes May 25 (except Saint Clement 9a.m. Holiday mass). Please consider attending a weekday Mass at either parish as a substitute for Sunday.
- Enter and exit through designated doorways, which will be clearly marked at each church. Due to space constraints, everyone will be directed to enter from the rear of the church and move forward. When leaving the church, everyone will be directed to leave through the rear doors. This helps ensure that people traffic is going in the same direction. The side entryways will be used for emergency exits and to gain access to restrooms if needed.
- All attendees must adhere to the required 6ft guidelines for social distancing. Be respectful of the seating space that is available. Families may sit together, following the distance requirement with other families/people. If you are coming by yourself, respect the distance requirement but be considerate not to taking more space than you need. Again, space is limited, how we respect the seating will help more people to participate.
- Facial coverings are required of all Mass attendees. The only time a mask can be pulled away from the face is during Communion.
- Hand sanitizer stations, though hard to come by, are on order. Once available, they will be placed around the church. Additionally, I ask that you help with this effort by bringing your own personal hand sanitizer. We recommend using hand sanitizer when entering, before Communition, and when leaving Mass.
- Mass will be recited with no singing, which limits the amount of respiratory particles and spread of germs.
- Practice distancing and patience during the Communion rite. I expect this to be a slow process. Please be respectful of one another and the ministers by following the directions that the priest will give prior to the Communion rite. This may be adjusted going forward. Social distancing will be marked on the floor.
- The offertory procession has been omitted. The collection of offertory donations will occur at the end of Mass. Baskets will be available at the exit doors to collect your donation in as you leave the church. Ushers will monitor these baskets to assure the safety of your donation. Alll contributions are greatly appreciated and help keep us operational. If you haven’t done so already, please consider moving to online giving to support the parish.
- All social gatherings after Mass (donuts and coffee) are cancelled until further notice. Parishioners should exit the church at the conclusion of Mass. Any gatherings outside should use extreme caution, not block pathways, and adhere to social distancing requirements.
For further information on the guidelines and requirements I mention above, I invite you to refer to the Diocese of Cleveland website.
As we enter the last week of the Easter season, we begin a new experience of celebrating the Liturgy. It will be different and with more guidelines, but still sacred. Please continue to pray for the success of churches reopening, and for the safety of the faithful and for those in spiritual communion at home. While new experiences challenge us and often times make us uncomfortable, they also open us to a renewed appreciation and gratitude for so many aspects of our lives. As so many people have said: “We’ll get through this together.” And we are! Together may still mean being physically separated, but in Christ all things are possible.
Come Holy Spirit!
New parking pattern at Saint Clement: Nothing has changed in the back parking area. However, you can no longer enter the middle parking area from Marlow Ave. To enter/exit the new parking area, use the entrance on Madison. Stacked parking remains between the Rectory and the church, and is one way (facing Lincoln). Enter from Madison, and exit on Lincoln. Please use the parking spots provided.