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Is it safe to return?

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

With news of the vaccinations impacting more and more folks, a number of our parishioners are asking, “Father, when do you think I should return to Mass?” Some who have been participating in person are asking, “when can we have coffee and donuts?”

When should someone return to Mass? Is it safe to return to Mass? The official dispensation from one’s obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days remains in effect; no one is required to attend at this time. However, if an individual Catholic is comfortable reengaging in other daily activities and events, what is keeping him or her from participating at Mass in person? There are many reasons and each parishioner needs to make this decision. As for safety at our church, I cannot speak for all parishes but our safety protocols will remain in place for the foreseeable future. People have expressed their appreciation for the high level of safety measures at our parish.

Of course, by coming to church each participant needs to agree to wear a facial mask, sanitize hands, and take his or her temperature before leaving the house. These expectations also apply to those who have already received their shots.And our parishioners who volunteer hours of their personal time have made it possible for us to be safer. Over the span of one week’s time, for example, dozens of hours go into the cleaning and disinfecting of the church building as well as serving participants by sanitizing hands and preparing for a safe experience as people enter and exit. A special thanks to every single one of our staff and volunteers who make this happen! We can always use some extra help in cleaning the church after Mass. If enough folks volunteer, we can rotate these responsibilities.

When are we able to bring back coffee and donuts? Great question, especially as I increasingly crave them throughout the Lenten season! Seriously, though, I appreciate the question because it has more to do with fellowship than with sugar or caffeine. For the time being we remain on hold with the use of our Lower Hall for any public gatherings. Perhaps warmer weather will create new opportunities. We continue to monitor state, local, and diocesan guidelines which are progressing. Whenever we “open back up,” we will certainly be doing things differently in this area. Some of these practices, such as serving food or beverage to the public, will need modification as Covid-19 has taught us about good hygiene and sanitary protocols that should be a part of our routine.

We are also very eager to resume our hot meal program, AA meetings, and other services that benefit our friends in the community – at their proper times.I want to express gratitude to those who continue to faithfully maintain our food pantry, meal preparation for neighboring programs, and other regular activities during this pandemic – thank you!

As we continue our Lenten observances, let us pray for strength, fortitude, charity, and patience as we endure what will likely be among the most challenging chapters of our lifetime.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Fr Gurnick Signature