Dear fellow parishioners,
During this time of uncertainty and transition amid the Covid pandemic, I would like to offer an update on the latest developments in our parish and in our diocese. Although a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass is still in effect until June 28th, Bishop Dewane wishes to make Mass available for those who would like to attend and receive communion. As a result, we have received direction that Masses will begin on Monday, May 18 with our usual summer Mass schedule. If you are uncomfortable returning to Mass, please do not feel any pressure to attend. In addition, please be mindful of our shared responsibility to keep each other safe and healthy.
If you are feeling unwell, if you live with someone who feels unwell, or if you or someone with whom you live is in fragile health, please do not attend Mass. By entering the church, you are acknowledging the potential risk for you entailed by entering a public location, and accepting that you will not be able to hold accountable St. William parish or the Diocese of Venice for any illness that may befall you. For those who will not be attending, the Mass will continue to be live streamed on our website and on Youtube.
If you choose to attend, you must follow the policies enumerated by the bishop. For example, you must wear a face mask. Upon entering, please use the hand sanitizer by the front door of the church. The Holy Water fonts are empty; please do not touch them. Please follow all directions for seating provided by our ushers. We are ordered to keep attendance at 25% of normal capacity. Some pews will be taped off to ensure safe distancing between parishioners.
Please do not sit directly in front of or behind a fellow parishioner. Families may sit together, but please make sure that you are at least six feet away from anyone with whom you are not living. If (and only if) attendance exceeds the 25% capacity, an overflow mass will be available (on the weekends) in the parish hall, beginning 15 minutes after the mass begins in the church. At this point it is very uncertain as to whether we will need an overflow mass, but we will be prepared. Although the hymnals have been removed from the church, a worship aid with the hymns of the day will be available (on the weekends) on our website. Please bring your smart phone to mass, access our parish website (saintwilliam.org) and click on “worship aid.”
Obviously, there is no handshake at the sign of peace and no holding hands during the Lord’s prayer.
As you process up to receive communion, please take care to stay six feet behind the person in front of you. Since the aisles are narrow, there will be only one communion line per aisle, and the pews will process alternately. To ensure appropriate social distancing between you and the priest or minister distributing communion, a table will be placed at each communion station. Those receiving communion must approach wearing a face mask. Distribution on the tongue is not available at the present time. Please extend your arms out as far as possible over the table and receive the host in your hand. Then move six feet to the side, pull down your mask, place the host in your mouth and pull the mask back over your face. This practice will ensure that you are not breathing respiratory droplets on the priest or minister’s hand as they offer you the host. Should there be accidental physical contact between the minister and the communicant, hand sanitizer will be available for use on the table between the two of you. There will be no offertory procession and no collection, but baskets for your donations will be stationed by the front pews. After mass, please do not congregate in the parking lot, as someone might accidentally violate social distancing.
Confessions will take place in the covered entryway to the ministry center. A car line will assemble in the parish office parking lot and you will each drive into the entryway and remain in your car for confession. To ensure confidentiality, please keep a gap of two car lengths between cars and have no one else in the car with you. Please wear a mask to confession.
These are difficult and unprecedented times for all of us. Much of the contents of this letter are self-evident. I am not underestimating your common sense, just trying to remind you of practices with which you are already all too familiar. I appreciate your patience and diligent cooperation in making every effort to ensure the safety of everyone in church and at home. God bless you all.
Yours in Christ,