A Special Message Regarding Covid-19 and Our Liturgical Life
In light of the governor’s directives – based on CDC guidelines – Ohio began to relax various ordinances that have been in place since spring of last year when businesses and other organizations were allowed to reopen. Although exempt from many of these restrictions, the Bishops of Ohio relied on the expertise of those in the health and medical communities. Based on this knowledge, the Diocese of Cleveland implemented several best practices throughout the past year. It would logically follow, therefore, that as the State of Ohio issued new guidelines effective June 2, the Diocese of Cleveland, continues to trust the judgment of the Governor and health experts, by relaxing many of the Covid-related practices. Realizing that some of our parishioners are concerned about the rapid pace of returning to some of these ordinary practices, I want to assure everyone that we take these concerns seriously. With the guidance of Christine Rose, Infection Preventionist – Cleveland Clinic, and the support of St. Patrick parishioner Dr. Don Malone, President – Ohio Hospitals of the Cleveland Clinic, I believe both parishes are navigating well through this next phase.
Since reopening for public worship and now as we’re expanding liturgical practices and other aspects of parish life, I am grateful to those who have been involved throughout this past year. My thanks especially goes to staff members and parishioners who have done some of the regular “heavy lifting” to ensure our safety and for those who have creatively helped us to carry on with our mission.
With the announcement of these new diocesan guidelines and after receiving feedback from staff members and parishioners who are involved in liturgical leadership, we began to implement some of these practices for public worship last weekend. I chose to implement these changes in a more gradual manner to better acclimate the community while addressing some concerns for those not yet comfortable with returning to ordinary practices. Following is a time-line for some of these changes:
- Open seating reinstated with the availability of socially-distanced seating
- Facial masks optional but recommended for those not vaccinated.
- Communion Procession.
- All doors will become accessible as entrances and exits.
- Entrance and Final processions will resume.
- Offertory Procession of bread and wine will be reintroduced.
The collection of the assembly’s financial offering will resume, giving ushers an opportunity between now and then to retrain. In the meantime, financial offerings may be deposited as people exit the church after Mass.
It is our hope that all ministries will be fully restored, with the understanding that it continues to be safe to keep moving in this direction. This includes altar servers, music ministry, readers, and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.
*Our parish staff and leadership will review any new information as it is made available.
Be assured of my prayerful best wishes for you and your loved ones as we cautiously return to some of the familiar practices experienced prior to Covid-19 while praying for those who continue to suffer from this pandemic.
Fr. Michael Gurnick