Messages from Father Dan
Returning to Mass:
There’s good news that public Sunday Masses will begin again at Newman Parish on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 30/31st! Yet COVID-19 is still a reality, so these guidelines will help us to be as safe as possible.
If you plan on attending Mass at Newman please carefully read these guidelines to know how to carry out your responsibility to keep yourself and others safe! The parish has stocked up on hand sanitizer and disinfectants for cleaning. The staff has also trained people to serve as hospitality ministers and clean the building between Masses. Still our individual action is probably the greatest factor in ensuring a safe and respectful environment.
Bishop Callahan has instructed that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still dispensed until further notice for even with these guidelines there is still a risk for those who come. The Diocese of La Crosse is encouraging those in the vulnerable category not to attend. This would include people 65 years and older and people with health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19. Normally our faith calls us to go to Sunday Mass, but for some it will be reasonable during this time to stay at home. You are also encouraged to stay home if you are especially anxious about gatherings right now. If you stay home, we will miss your presence with us, but fully understand and appreciate your decision.
If you are feeling ill (have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills) stay home. If you have been in contact with some one who has COVID-19 also stay home.
We have slightly new Mass times. Until further notice, we cannot celebrate Mass at Sacred Heart Hospital. All Masses will be at the Ecumenical Religious Center.
Saturday 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.
University Lutheran Church will likely restart their Sunday service closer to the UWEC fall semester. They will then have the 11 a.m. time at the ERC and we will switch from the 11 a.m. to a Sunday 5 p.m. Pastor Lori and I, in consultation with our parish councils, found this to be the best solution.
Sign-Up for Mass:
I know this seems unusual, but you will have to sign up for Mass. We have limited capacity, no more than 25% of our building. So we will have slots for 70 people to sign up for each Mass.
1.) The website homepage has an announcement stating “To sign up for Sunday Mass: Click here”.
2.) When you click “Click here” it will redirect you to a SignUpGenius page for our Masses.
3.) Only the three Masses for the upcoming weekend will be shown.
4.) There are red boxes that say “Sign Up”, and click the one for the Mass you want.
5.) After it is checked click down below where it says “Submit and Sign Up”.
6.) You will then be taken to the sign up form.
7.) Change the Quantity to the number of people in your household who will be coming if it’s more than 1.
8.) Then put in your name and email and click “Sign Up Now”.
If you can’t attend the Mass you signed up for go back to the SignUpGenius page via our website and click where it says “Change your Sign Up” and follow the directions to cancel. Please only sign up for spots you are certain you will fill otherwise you could take them from other people.
The Masses for the upcoming weekend will be posted by Tuesday morning 9 a.m. and you will be able to sign up until an hour before the Mass time if there are open slots. If you don’t use the Internet and would like Mary Richmond to sign you up call her at 715-834-3399 before Thursday 3 p.m. to get signed up, leave a message if she doesn’t answer. If the number of registered people reaches capacity, we’ll unfortunately have to turn away any unregistered people who show up for Mass.
Coming to Mass:
The ERC front door will be unlocked 20 minutes before Mass starts, so please do not come earlier, but if you do just stay in your car. Also don’t arrive late as entry may not be allowed after Mass starts.
A hospitality minister, who will be wearing a mask and gloves, will be at the front door to sign you in and make sure you know the guidelines if it is your first Mass back. Maintain 6 feet distance outside if you are waiting in line to enter.
The following simple rules will be posted for all to read when they enter the ERC for Mass. These rules won’t take away all risks gathering in public, but they are striving to provide a safe and respectful environment.
1.) If you are feeling ill, stay home.
2.) You are strongly encouraged to wear a mask, please bring from home. A limited number is available for you to take one.
3.) Use hand sanitizer, two dispensers are located in the hallway leading to the chapel.
4.) Always maintain six feet distance from others at all times.
5.) Only sit in a group of chairs with those in your household and remain at your seat as much as possible.
Most of the chairs have been removed from the chapel to comply with social distancing. The chairs are in different numbered groups. Please select a group with the right number of chairs for your household. If you need help ask me or the hospitality minister.
We will be limiting the number of ministers to just one reader, so no assistant ministers, ushers, and Eucharistic ministers will be assigned for Masses. The reader will not be assigned, but a schedule will be emailed out and readers can volunteer if they would like. If no one volunteers I will read at the Mass.
There is debate whether singing at Mass is a safe practice right now. I’m taking the advice of a group of Catholic medical doctors who wrote a document for reopening Masses and they stated under safest practices: “Choirs and singing should be avoided, as they are likely a high aerosol generating activity that could spread COVID-19 or other viruses.” I look forward to when the consensus of medical advice is that singing at Mass is safe again! There will be instrumental piano music at appropriate times.
The offertory collection will be taken up by the hospitality minister who will wear a mask and gloves using a long handle basket.
The Diocesan directives indicate the sign of peace will be omitted entirely. So after I say, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” And you respond, “And with your spirit.” I will immediately start the recitation of the Lamb of God.
I will be the only one to distribute Holy Communion and I will sanitize my hands right before. You are encouraged to only receive Communion in the hand. If there is contact between us, I will go and sanitize my hands again before continuing to distribute Holy Communion. There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.
After the final blessing each household will be dismissed one at a time to maintain social distancing. At that time just simply exit the building and it will go smoothly and quickly. The building will be locked and cleaned/disinfected in between Masses.
Thank you for taking time to read these guidelines!
After the chairs got rearranged in the ERC chapel for social distancing a number of people mentioned how empty or barren it looked. I was praying later in the chapel and the image I had was that of spring. After winter, the earth is barren. But then new growth slowly begins to come back, not all at once, but a bud at a time. There aren’t as many chairs as normal, there won’t be as many people as normal, some of the parts/aspects of the Mass are changed/omitted, but there are now the first buds, signs of life coming back. Instead of focusing on what isn’t present, let us try to find joy in what has returned as we await the full return of our liturgical life.