Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Many Blessings this Sunday to all of our Mothers! You were the first to welcome us and often the last to stop worrying about us (does it ever stop?). For all the many things taken for granted—thank you!
Bishop Boyea will be lifting the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass on Pentecost weekend (May 22nd-23rd). Pentecost is the celebration of the birthday of the Church, and this will feel like a great step toward normalcy! That weekend will include lifting more of the restrictions that have been in place over the past year.
¨ We will be bringing back gift bearers at Mass. The ciborium with the hosts and the wine cruet will both have covers on them as they are brought up in procession.
¨ Our Choirs will begin resuming their normal schedule as they are able. We are permitted to sing at Mass.
Some guidelines that will remain:
¨ We will still refrain from the Sign of Peace and receiving the Precious Blood at Mass.
¨ We will continue to have our collection boxes at the entrance of the church in the place of ushers during Mass.
¨ Bishop Boyea is still recommending wearing masks at Mass.
We have been recording and uploading Masses during the week and on the weekends for the past year of this pandemic. Over time as we have been able to return to Mass in person, the number of people needing those Masses has gone down steadily, particularly our weekday Masses. Come Pentecost, we will no longer be recording weekday Masses. We will still be recording the Sunday Mass for the time being.
Onto the ropes. We will be moving toward full occupancy in the weeks ahead, removing the dividing ropes from pews in parts of the church while leaving some up in other areas for increased capacity. On the weekend of Pentecost, we will take the ropes down entirely except for some small sections to accommodate those who need to/would like to have guaranteed social distance. At St. Mary’s, we will have three long pews roped off. At Sacred Heart, the two small wings (by the Sacred Heart Statue and the Confessional) will continue to have ropes separating every other pew. St. Mary’s will have our full complement of chairs like we would typically have for our summer parishioners.
Many of the most vulnerable of our parishes have now been vaccinated. That being the case, there are those who are still vulnerable or simply would feel much more comfortable being socially distanced at Mass. With that in mind, we will be intentional about sitting socially distanced at the Saturday night Vigil Masses. Both the 4:30pm at Sacred Heart and the 6pm at St. Mary on the Lake traditionally have a lower attendance than the Sunday morning Masses, so it will be easier to spread out. At those Vigil Masses, even though we will not have ropes in place, please sit in every other pew. We will be adding the 6pm Vigil Mass at St. Mary on the Lake one week early on May 22nd to accommodate those who would feel more comfortable being spread out.
I have been very grateful overall for people’s understanding over this past year and their respect for each other. As we have done over the past year, I ask you to continue both choosing and living in that charity. Going to Mass and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is at the very heart of our Christian life. Thank you for all you do and have done in following these guidelines so we can gather and receive all the grace the Lord longs to give.
Fr. Todd Koenigsknecht