Reopening Statement from Fr. Andy
Dear St. Mary family,
I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy.
The reason for the note is to update you on the reopening plans for our parish under the guidelines set forth from the Diocese of Joliet. Bishop Richard Pates recently shared the multi-phased plan for reopening churches in the Diocese of Joliet. In order for a parish to be approved by the diocese for each successive phase, the parish must submit their own plan to reopen based on the specifications provided by the diocese. Specifically,
Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of TEN attendees.
Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of TEN attendees.
Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups depending on the guidelines issued by the State of Illinois and the capacity of the church building.
St. Mary submitted their plan to the diocese and has recently been approved to reopen through Phase II. For those of you who are eagerly awaiting the resumption of all phases of liturgical activities, our priority in reopening will be the safety and wellbeing of all while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.
Please review the Q & A that follows to help answer some of the questions you may have regarding our parish reopening.
What is being been done to reopen St. Mary Parish?
A Parish Reopening Team with parishioner co-captains has been assembled under Deacon Eduardo’s leadership to lead our efforts. The team has participated in required training from the Diocese of Joliet to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Diocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities. Further, they will guide the formation of additional teams needed to support various aspects of the reopening plan.
What are the next steps?
Our ability to reopen under each phase of the Diocese’s Plan is predicated on getting the reopening teams adequately staffed/supported. Importantly, reopening team members and support members must not be part of a “vulnerable population”, (no underlying medical condition such as diabetes, lung disease, undergoing cancer treatment, etc.) Those over the age of 60 should consult with the Parish Reopening Team about the possibility of their serving as a support team member.
How can I help?
I ask all of you who meet the requirements and are healthy with no underlying health conditions to consider assisting with one of two reopening support teams described below. I especially encourage high school, college students as well as young adults to serve and volunteer for these teams.
Greeting team: Sample duties include ensuring that all entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure assisting in managing the flow of congregants as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.
Cleaning team: Sample duties include maintaining and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. We have procured the personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies necessary to provide a safe environment for people to enter.
The Reopening Team will make sure that all support team members are properly trained. Please send them a message at email@example.com to indicate your willingness and ability to help.
When will St. Mary’s begin offering the Phase 1 and 1A activities listed?
We have resumed baptisms, weddings and funerals within the current guidelines.
There will be a special time for in-church prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament right after 8AM Mass, starting June 11th from 8:40AM to 10AM. Ten people will be able to be in church at a time. Mass Coordinators will be at the front doors helping to direct people through so those that come will have an opportunity to be in church to pray.
Beginning June 11th, daily Mass will be celebrated at 8AM in the main church on Thursday and Friday; reconciliation and prayer /adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will follow until 10AM. Attendance limits in effect, currently 10 persons, will be followed. We will begin increasing the person capacity gradually as we gauge the success of our safety precautions. A scheduling system, referred to in the weekend Mass information below, will be used to reserve a spot for Masses.
We expect to be able to extend the time offered for prayer and adoration in the near future. Our parish, like all others in the Diocese, will move forward with the other approved activities at a pace and timing appropriate for our situation. Importantly, this will only be done once the Parish Reopening Team and I feel confident that we have enough volunteers in place to make it possible to safely expand our offerings. The need for parishioner assistance is essential.
When will weekend Masses start up again?
The plan is to begin offering Sunday Masses the weekend of June 13th and 14th. Four masses will be celebrated in-person: Saturday at 4PM (new time) and Sunday at 8AM, 10:00AM and 12NOON (Spanish). Because we must limit the number of attendees to minimize the risk of the spread of disease, and in order to avoid “turning people away” at our doors, our plan includes establishing an online registration system. We ask for your patience as we roll out this new scheduling tool; if you experience technical difficulties, please call the parish office 630-552-3448. Please refer to the parish website to use the scheduling system www.saintmaryplano.com.
As it relates to the obligation to attend weekend Mass, please keep in mind the following:
That the dispensation for the Sunday obligation still applies at this time.
That if you are fearful or have reluctance to return to Sunday Mass at this time you should not do so.
That those most susceptible to contracting COVID-19 by virtue of medical conditions or other vulnerability are encouraged to pray and stay at home for their safety.
If you are showing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please pray and stay at home.
The Masses will continue to be live-streamed at https://www.facebook.com/saintmaryplanoil/ for those not able to attend.
When we will know more?
As you can appreciate, the information we rely on to progress our reopening plan gets updated frequently, sometimes daily. As such, you can look for updates to be posted on our website, parish app, and Face Book.
Mass will look and feel different since you last attended. We have made these 4 videos available on our Facebook page and YouTube channel to help you prepare for the Eucharistic Celebration safely during these times. The “patience of a saint” and your full cooperation will be required as we fine tune our movements and seating. Occasionally we may stumble along the way.
The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our well-being and that of our broader community. It is good to note that we do this together as from the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (Jn 17:21) and commanded us “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Our collective patience, willingness to help and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.
May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways. If you have any questions regarding our parish reopening information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under His Mercy,