Masses at Expanded Capacity of 40%
Dear Epiphany Parishioners,
In hopes of well health and peace since the last I checked in, I wanted to assure you of my continued prayers and provide an Archdiocesan update on our Masses here at Epiphany. We recently learned from Cardinal DiNardo that the Archdiocese would like the parishes to expand the attendance capacity for Masses beginning this coming weekend, while still maintaining all of the safety guidelines we have been faithfully observing as a community.
As you know, we have been celebrating Mass at a limited capacity of around 25% since May 1
of this year. The actual attendance up to this point at our parish has varied depending on the particular Mass; and though we have come close at times, we have thus far, not exceeded the 25% capacity number of 400 people per Mass. In many ways, we have maintained the 25% capacity guidelines out of an abundance of precaution and in order to learn how to create an environment that is safe and reverent for our Sunday worship of the Lord during this time of pandemic concerns.
With these past four months as a solid foundation, we are looking to expand to
of our church’s seating capacity, which is approximately
people per Mass, starting this weekend,
September 26 -27th
. To maintain the same level of precautions in our church during this time when we are called to be concerned for the safety of others, we will continue with the health guidelines and measures implemented since May 1
. As a reminder, the following are some of the measures we have been faithfully practicing:
Hand sanitizers are available at every church entrance;
Entrance into the church on Sunday is through the main narthex doors in order for the members of the Pastoral Council to monitor the seating capacity;
Everyone is to wear a Mass while in the church;
The collection baskets are not passed around during Mass, and the Sunday offertory is made in the collection boxes as you enter or exit the church or on on-line;
The hymnals are taken out of the pews, and the Mass readings and music can be found in the bulletin, to be picked up before Mass;
Only the clergy will distribute Communion, who will use hand sanitizing soap right before Communion, and Communion is received in the hand; and
After each Sunday Mass, the congregation is asked to use the Clorox wipes at the end of the pews to wipe the area at which you are seated in preparation of the next Mass.
In light of the expanded seating capacity, we will also be adding some rows of chairs so that we can still strive to keep 6 feet between families in the pews. In addition, we will be relying more on seating in
to maximize the social distancing potential of our worship space. And we will have three clergy members at each Mass to help maintain the proper flow of the Communion line.
We understand that the 600 seating capacity will be approached gradually in the coming months, as we adjust to this new phase of return to worship. Thank you for contributing to the safety and holiness of our Sunday worship. In this expanded capacity phase, we will strive to open our hearts to sharing the pews with our brothers and sisters in Christ while maintaining social distancing. We will rely on the invaluable ministry of the ushers to help us be hospitable to the people we encounter. We definitely understand if due to your particular situation, it is better to exercise an abundance of precaution to continue to attend Mass via on-line streaming. The dispensation for Mass attendance is still given at this time. At the same time, we know that as many people learn how to protect themselves and begin to resume some of their regular meaningful activities, we wanted to expand the opportunity for the faithful to return to Mass while still feeling that others in their community understand their concerns to remain protected as we continue to adjust to the changing times and situation.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our many dedicated volunteers at the liturgy for ensuring that the Masses are celebrated reverently and safely each weekday and at the weekend Masses. Our ushers, sacristans, cantors, musicians, lectors, altar servers, and audio-visual ministers have served in various capacities since we moved to streaming Masses in March and have augmented their service to the Church since we have been celebrating Mass at a limited capacity since May. These key volunteers have also offered their time and talent at weddings, funerals, First Communions, and baptisms that we have safely celebrated during this pandemic. I join in the chorus of people who have voiced their appreciation for the way we are able to worship at church in a healthy and respectful environment.
We will continue to be open to the need for change to meet the call to holiness during this historic pandemic time. Let us keep one another in prayerful remembrance during this challenging time when the world needs our saintly prayers for the world and for the Church.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Rev. Tom Lam
Fr. Tom Lam
on Friday, September 25 at 3:17PM