Dear friends in Christ,
With the recent increase in Covid cases, there has likewise been an increase in general anxiety. Therefore, I’d like to remind you of the guidelines we have received from our diocese in response to the pandemic, which are based on CDC guidelines.
- At Mass:
- Maintaining social distance of six feet between people who do not share a household. This limits our capacity at each mass to no more than about 100-110 people.
- Face masks should be worn by everyone age 2 and over. Obviously parents are just asked to do their best with young children.
- Collection baskets should not be passed at Mass. Instead, we have a basket at the door to the church that donations can be placed in as you enter or exit the church. Alternatively, parishioners can make donations online.
- The sign of peace and the distribution of the Precious Blood at communion are suspended for the time being.
- At communion, everyone should keep six feet from anyone outside of their own household while in line.
- Singing should be limited.
- Sanitize seats, door handles, and other surfaces after each Mass – our sacristans and ushers have been doing this for us.
- Outside of Mass:
- Indoor gatherings are limited to 20 people per 1000 sq.ft of space. Everyone should wear masks, maintain social distance, etc.
In order to adhere to these guidelines, this is what we are doing now:
- We have added, at least temporarily, two extra Sunday Masses to accommodate everyone who is coming to Mass.
- Our faith formation, with the exception of confirmation classes, our high school youth ministry, and RCIA classes, have been moved online. The in person classes have to follow the above guidelines.
- In order to accommodate the maximum number possible at Masses, we are trying to direct individuals who come to Mass to sit in the individual chairs in the multipurpose room as much as possible and families / groups to sit in the nave of the church.
For some additional information, here is a link to some frequently asked questions regarding the response of the Diocese of Grand Rapids to the pandemic: https://grdiocese.
There is a very wide range of opinions – in every parish – about what should or should not be done during this pandemic. There are no perfect solutions, no perfect set of guidelines that will keep everyone happy. Likewise, there is no set of practices that can eliminate all risk of spreading Covid – we can only try to minimize it. Fortunately, most people have been very flexible and very patient with what is being asked of us and with the many changes, and I appreciate your flexibility and patience.
I would also encourage everyone to not give in to fear and to exercise patience with others. Courage and patience are virtues and like all virtues are necessary for human flourishing, especially in times of crisis.
Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that God is always with us, and most especially in the Blessed Sacrament. Sitting in silence before Jesus present in the tabernacle, entrusting all our cares and concerns to Him, will give us peace and help us to grow in virtue and become more and more Christlike.
Let us pray for all those who are suffering from illness, loneliness, and anxiety, and for an end to this pandemic. And please know that you are all in my prayers.
Sincerely in Christ,