While most of us are very anxious to get back to the celebration of Mass, we need to be very aware that we’re talking about SLOWLY reopening. Many people seem to think that as of the weekend of Pentecost that we will simply go back to Mass as it used to be. THIS IS NOT SO! As Bishop da Cunha said to his priests, the Governor said that we CAN reopen, not that we MUST reopen. AND we are allowed to reopen on condition that the regulations set forth by the Commonwealth are strictly followed in terms of sanitizing for the protection of everyone involved. To give a glimpse of what the reopening will be like, I have posted a video from the Archdiocese of Boston on the parish Facebook page and which can also be found on the Archdiocese of Boston YouTube Channel.
The health regulations that have been issued require us to sanitize the entire church and any space used between services along with doorknobs etc. It is not a suggestion. It is mandated by the state.
While I initially figured out the numbers for 40% of what our sitting capacity is, the number did not consider the “6 foot” rule between persons/members of a household. The number of people who will be permitted into each Mass then is reduced to an even lesser number.
I don’t know of any parish that has anticipated the scope of what we would be required to do. With the government buying most of the items related to COVID-19 protection, much of what we need and should have is not available to us. We did not order what we didn’t anticipate. I have been waiting two months for an order I placed for Purell. This week I was able to order online some hand sanitizer, which the supplier had in stock.
The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday (or a vigil) remains suspended by the bishop for the foreseeable future. Government guidelines recommend that those persons 60 years or older should consider not going out. Those with underlying health/medical conditions are strongly encouraged to stay home.
Closing the churches was easy (speaking from a practical point) but opening back up is not going to be easy at all. This process is FAR from ideal.
Initially, I thought in my enthusiasm, we would be able to open both parishes on Pentecost weekend, but after prayer and anguish, the safest way to open is to open one church at a time. So I have to share with you a decision that I have come to in order to comply with the mandates and guidelines of the Commonwealth and Health Officials, believe me it was not an easy one to arrive at.
On the weekend of May 30/31, when we celebrate Pentecost, only Saint Anthony’s will reopen, with the following Mass Schedule.
Saturday Vigil Mass at 4:30 PM
Sunday Masses will be at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:30 AM.
We will continue to livestream Mass at 9:30 AM on the parish Facebook page as we have been doing.
Unfortunately, everything that makes Saint Rita’s so attractive, its closeness, its quaintness, its coziness, makes it next to impossible to open within the current mandates and guidelines. As we progress through the phases of reopening, I have great hope that Saint Rita’s will be able to reopen. In the meantime, we must do all in our power to stay safe and to keep each other safe.
Saint Rita of Cascia pray for us