May 22, 2020
I am writing to inform you that we are planning to begin offering public Masses in the parish church at Our Lady Star of the Sea on Monday, May 25. Our parish staff and volunteers have been working very hard to establish a plan that does everything we reasonably can to make this a safe reopening for those who are able to attend.
The seriousness of this pandemic dictates that we follow the guidelines and safety measures given by State and Local authorities and health officials, and the Archdiocese of Washington. Therefore, please understand that the logistics and schedule required to offer public Masses and liturgies under these guidelines will be very different than the last time you attended Mass. Please read the following carefully to facilitate a smooth reopening.
Mass Obligation Dispensed
The dispensation from Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains in effect and you may have to make the difficult decision to remain at home even as we offer public Masses. This would include those with COVID-19 or exposed to it, as well as those with upper respiratory or flu like symptoms or underlying medical conditions, the sick, the elderly, those who are living with or in the presence of any individual at risk, or those that still do not feel comfortable being in a public setting. When in doubt, out of charity for others, please stay home.
Beginning Monday May 25, the weekday Masses will be offered at 9:00am in the parish church, Monday through Friday. There will not be a 9:00am Mass on Saturday’s. Masses will be live streamed.
Weekend Mass Schedule
Beginning Saturday May 30 the weekend Mass schedule will be as follows:
All Masses will be live-streamed on our Facebook and YouTube Channels which you can access from our parish website at www.olss.org.
Confessions will be heard in the parish church on Saturday from 2:00pm-3:30pm and Wednesday 5:00pm-6:00pm where social distancing can be maintained.
Face Mask Requirements
You are required to wear face masks for the entirety of Mass. If you choose to wear protective gloves, they must be removed prior to receiving Communion on the hand. We will also ask everyone to use hand sanitizer prior to entering the church, so please bring some with you.
During this phase of public Masses only the priests, deacon, lector/reader will be in the sanctuary and serving during Mass. No altar servers will be serving Mass at this time. Music will be temporarily suspended at this time as singing can increase the risk of the spread of the virus.
For safety reasons all Hymnals and Missalettes have been removed from the pews.
Sunday Readings and the Responsorial Psalms will be posted to our parish Facebook page (www.facebook.com/olssofficial) and website (www.olss.org). You may use your electronic device to access during Mass.
Given the new occupancy restrictions, we are only able to accommodate approximately 180 parishioners per Mass. We may reevaluate how many Masses we can offer based on response.
When arriving at church, please keep socially distanced from other households as you enter. Please allow extra time to be seated and please understand that attendees will not choose where they sit. Everyone will be seated by Ushers as they arrive, from the front of the church to the back. After Mass is concluded, we will exit back to front maintaining social distancing.
All Catholics present who are in a state of grace are invited to receive Communion at this time.
Those who have health concerns and do not wish to receive sacramental Communion may make an Act of Spiritual Communion which will be led by Fr. Ken after the distribution of Communion.
Those who will not receive communion should not come forward with hands crossed for a blessing; there is a blessing for everyone at the end of Mass.
Children who will not receive communion but who are old enough to remain quietly in their seat should do so, and not get in the line for Communion.
When you approach for Communion, please remain six feet from others in the line and from the minister. When it is your time to receive, keep your mask on and remain six feet away from the minister, there will be markings on the floor to help guide you.
When receiving the blessed sacrament, please place one hand under the other while keeping your fingers together, making “a throne for the King,” as St. Cyril of Jerusalem says. Receive the Host in your hand, then step six feet away from the minister. Then carefully loosen your facial covering (or mask by an ear loop), consume the Host, and replace the facial covering. If the minister accidentally touches anyone’s hand, he will immediately disinfect his own hands.
Those who wish to receive Communion on the tongue are asked to go to Fr. Ken and wait until the end of Communion to help us accommodate this preference. Although each person retains the right to receive on the tongue, the Centers for Disease Control have recommended against it; but more importantly, out of love for our brothers and sisters, and out of kind concern for the vulnerable and our sacred ministers, those who normally receive on the tongue are respectfully asked to consider receiving in the hand as a temporary measure. It is a legitimate practice attested to in our Catholic Tradition since the ancient Church. The minister will immediately disinfect his hands after each communicant who receives on the tongue, even if no physical contact is made.
Collection baskets will not be passed but will be available for contributions near the baptismal font. Online Giving is another option available https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/MD304.
At the conclusion of Mass, the ushers will dismiss rows beginning from the back to the front of the church. As you go to your car, please keep socially distanced from other households as you leave. After the dismissal of the last pew, we will be sanitizing all the pews and seating areas, common area surfaces and restroom common surface areas.
Please be patient with us in implementing this plan and understand that we will make any changes deemed necessary to assure the safety of those attending, while also recognizing the importance of making the sacraments available.
May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
In an effort to prevent illness and keep us all healthy and safe, Masses will undoubtedly look much different than we are accustomed to. Please see this guide from the Archdiocese of Washington with an overview of what we can except when we return to Mass.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory - Message on the Transition to Reopening
Transition to Reopening