Jun
20

LETTER FROM FR. DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM

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Letter Cunningham (PDF)

A LETTER FROM FR. DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM REGARDING REOPENING OUR CHURCHES

Dear Parishioners of the Catholic Community of St. Stephen-St. Patrick and OLPH,

I am writing to inform you that we will begin offering public Masses here at Whitney Point and Marathon on Sunday, June 28th now that we are able to accommodate up to 25% of the capacity of our churches. It is especially nice to welcome everyone back to celebrate Mass. Our parish staff and volunteers have been working very hard to establish a plan that does everything we reasonably can to make this a safe reopening.

The seriousness of this pandemic dictates that we follow the guidelines and safety measures given by State and Local authorities and health officials, and the Diocese of Syracuse. Please read the following carefully to facilitate a smooth reopening.

MASS OBLIGATION DISPENSED

The dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation remains in effect. Please refrain from attending Mass, especially those with COVID-19 or exposed to it, as well as those with upper respiratory or flu like symptoms or underlying medical conditions, the sick, the elderly, those who are living with or in the presence of any individual at risk, or those that still do not feel comfortable being in a public setting. When in doubt, out of charity for others, please stay home. If you are diagnosed with COVID 19 after attending Mass please notify the office so attendees can be informed without using the name of the infected.

Below, you will find the revised mass schedule for Sundays. This is necessary because of the need to sanitize the church before/after Masses (we need two hours after each Mass) and it will allow the maximum number to attend. After consultation with some of the leadership, I decided to make the changes as listed below. PLEASE NOTE: This revised schedule is temporary — and will be re-evaluated once the restrictions are lifted.

In order to allow the largest number of parishioners to participate, we will need to use the larger worship spaces. There will be two Masses at Whitney Point (with two hours between so that the church can be totally sanitized as per Diocesan directions) and one Mass at Marathon. Because of the number of restrictions of attendance, it will be necessary to register in advance for Sunday Mass. Please email Mary at the office, ststepherisi:patesyrciio.org, or tail her at 692 3911 before noon on Thursday, June 25th. If the Mass you are registered for is full you will be notified and asked to choose a different Mass. When the Diocese changes to 50% or higher occupancy we will re-evaluate and attempt to notify everyone of any changes using Facebook and our church website.

WEEKDAY MASS

8:30 am Beginning Tuesday, June 30th the weekday Masses will be offered at Whitney Point

WEEKEND MASSES

Beginning June 28th, the Sunday Mass schedule will be as follows:

8:30 am Whitney Point

10:30 am Marathon

12 Noon Whitney Point (This is correct – Bigger Church)

ADORATION
We will continue Eucharistic Adoration at our Whitney Point Church on Thursdays from 7-8 PM

FACE-MASK REQUIREMENTS
You are required to wear face masks for the entirety of Mass. If you choose to wear protective gloves, they must be removed prior to receiving Communion on the hand. We will also ask everyone to use hand sanitizer prior to entering the church. Hand sanitizer will be provided. Please bring your own sanitizer if possible so that you can use it before receiving Communion

LITURGICAL LAY MINISTERS
Liturgical Ministers will be contacted if needed and will receive information concerning any changes.

MUSIC MINISTRY
Music will be kept to a minimum: Entrance song – Presentation — Holy, Holy – Communion — Closing. The cantor will sing, you are encouraged to listen prayerfully and hum but please refrain from singing as it is considered a heightened way to project germs.

MISSALETTES
Missalettes will not be available during the pandemic.

SEATING
Given the new occupancy restrictions, we are only able to accommodate approximately 95 persons at Whitney Point and 47 persons at Marathon per Mass. Remember you must contact the office to preregister.

When arriving at church, please keep socially distanced from other households as you enter. Please allow extra time to be seated and please understand that attendees will be directed by ushers as they arrive. The ushers will start seating 30 minutes before Mass begins. Please remain in your vehicles until the doors open to enter the church and please do not congregate by the entrance before or after Masses.

COMMUNION:
Before Communion please sanitize your hands. The Eucharistic Ministers will distribute Communion in the front of the side aisles. When you approach for Communion, please follow the markings on the floor — keeping the distance of six feet. When it is your time to receive, keep your mask on while the Eucharistic Minister shows the Host and says, The Body of Christ. After you respond, Amen, approach the minister. Receive the Host in your hand, then step six feet away from the minister. Then carefully loosen your facial covering, consume the Host, and replace the facial covering. Return to your pew by the middle aisle maintaining a 6-foot distance.

COLLECTION
Collection baskets will not be passed but will be available for contributions at the interior exit door of the church as you enter or leave the church. Electronic Giving is available after submitting the form to the office. The forms are available at each church.

DISMISSAL
At the conclusion of Mass, the ushers will dismiss rows beginning with those closest to the doors. As you go to your car, please keep socially distanced from other households as you leave. The church will be sanitized after each Mass.

We look forward to seeing you! May I ask that you please be patient with us in implementing this plan and understand that we will make any changes deemed necessary to assure the safety of those attending, while also recognizing the importance of making Mass available.

May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you!

God Bless,

Fr. Douglas Cunningham