Dear Parishioners,

We have certainly missed being together as the Body of Christ during these challenging times. I hope the live streaming of our Mass has been some consolation for many of you.

Now we have some good news! Archbishop Perez has announced that, based on Governor Wolf’s plan to lift (at least partially)restrictions by June 5, churches will be open for worship on June 6.

At that time, we will resume our regular Mass schedule: Saturday Vigil, 4:00pm,, Sunday, Misa 10:00am, Mass 12:00pm. Sunday Masses will be celebrated in the Upper Church.

Weekday Masses will begin Monday, June 8 IN THE LOWER CHURCH.

With that in mind I want to assure you that our Parish Council has been discussing the best and safest ways to re-open, in accord with whatever diocesan guidelines will be given.

As that time draws near, I invite everyone to begin to consider the following:

1. Everyone will be required to wear a mask as they approach the church building, all throughout the Mass and upon leaving church. (You will, of course, remove your mask to receive Communion.)
2. We will not be using hymnals or missalettes. There will be a cantor and organist for each Mass.
3. We will require safe distancing during Mass. People living in the same house may sit together in a pew. Other individuals will be required to keep the safe distance of 6 feet between each person or family. Pews will be marked to clearly show the space of 6 feet between each person or group (family; those living together). Some pews will be roped off to insure safe distancing.
4. We will not have the usual offering of the bread and wine at offertory.
5. We will not have ushers taking up the collection. Instead, baskets will be placed in a central location and all can place their envelopes in the baskets upon entering or leaving church.
6. The Sign (Kiss) of Peace will be a wave or a gesture of acknowledgment. There will be no handshaking.
7. For the reception of Communion, we will maintain six feet between each person coming forward to receive.
8. We are asking all people to seriously consider receiving Communion in the hand. Some have a personal piety of receiving on the tongue. That is fine, but it is just a personal piety and not in any way “holier” than receiving on the hands. In fact, in these times, receiving in the hands is actually more charitable and loving. We will try to accommodate those who do not wish to receive in the hand.

Also keep these points in mind:
•We will have the church sanitized before each Mass.
•You can help us to sanitize the church and keep it clean by bringing disinfectants and wipes to church. Feel free to wipe down the area where you sit before and after Mass.
•There has been some suggestion that churches will be able to accommodate 50% of the building’s seating capacity. We will wait for further instruction on that. The point is, however, that the number of people able to attend Mass will be restricted.
The Parish Council and I are presently discussing the safest, fairest way to do this. We will have more information when the time comes.
•We will continue to live stream our Masses on Facebook for those who cannot attend or who choose not to until they feel more secure. (And, of course, it is highly likely that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will stay in place for those that choose not to attend for health or safety considerations.)
•Weddings and funerals will abide by the “50% capacity” rule.

All of this will take some getting used to, as we won’t be returning to the old “normal” for quite some time. And some things will never return to the way they were. That, however, gives us the opportunity to make things even better than they were!
Please be patient, considerate and supportive of each other and of all our parish staff as we navigate these times together.
You have indeed already been extremely supportive with your comments on Facebook, your “attendance” at the live stream Masses and your generosity in electronically giving your donations or mailing your envelopes. I thank you for that and I know we will grow in our love for each other and for Christ through the days to come. And I pray we grow in an ever greater awareness of Christ’s superabundant love for each of you and for all of us!

Peace and every good,

Fr. Murphy