Holy Mass + 6 feet distance + hand washing + pew sanitizing = Good for the Body and Good for the Soul

It is the Mass that gave nourishment, strength and courage in times of pestilence and plague to St. Mother Theresa, St. Damien of Molokai, St Catherine of Siena, and so many others, so they could minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the diseased and dying. The Mass informed and strengthened their soul to encounter the image of Christ in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, day after day, year after year.

Current Situation:    

  1. The public celebration of the Mass has been suspended. All Catholics are officially excused from the Sunday Obligation through dispensations granted in virtually every diocese in the U.S. to comply with various civic ordinances aimed to prevent citizens from contracting or transmitting COVID19, especially the elderly who are most vulnerable.
     

  2. In many dioceses Churches remain open for prayer, confessions, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the norms of reasonable Social Distancing being respected.
     

  3. In place of the public participation at Mass, bishops have suggested the faithful participate by watching live-streamed private Masses, making spiritual communions, and otherwise “keeping holy the Sabbath”.

The Objective:

To restore the public participation of Holy Mass, while respecting Social Distancing norms and other recommended health practices.

The Goal:

  1. To insist civil ordinances re COVID-19 include the Catholic Church as an “essential service”, along with grocery stores, hardware stores, banks and marijuana dispensaries.
     

  2. To modify civil ordinances re COVID-19 that limit public assembly gatherings of no more than 10 persons to a more reasonable number; A gathering of 10 being deemed unsafe is arbitrary*, discriminatory**, overbroad and burdensome to the free exercise of religion. The number of persons allowed to assemble should be commensurate with the physical space, and determined by the “6 foot buffer zone rule”, which has been commonly and consistently utilized in Social Distancing norms (n.b. the maximum assembly number has moved from 250, 100, 50 and 10, but the 6 foot zone has remained).

    * Grocery stores and home improvement stores, for example, are not limited to 10 persons at any given time.

    ** It makes no sense to limit gatherings to 10 people in all situations. 10 people in a Starbucks makes sense, but 10 people in a huge parish church with a seating capacity of 1,000 makes no sense at all!

     

  3. To urge our bishops to lobby our civic leaders regarding the above stated goals (‘essential service’ and ‘increased maximum assembly limit’) and to generally insist on the protection of our religious liberties and the right to the free exercise of religion.
     

  4. To urge our bishops to Restore Holy Mass by implementing reasonable safety measures to protect the faithful who desperately wish to attend Holy Mass (N.B. the general dispensation would remain in place until further notice for those who are in risk categories or have anxieties).
     

ACTION ITEMS / WHAT CAN YOU DO?

PRAY!
 

  1. For all who are suffering from COVID19 infection, from social isolation and from fear of the unknown and economic hardship.
     

  2. For all of our civil leaders who are working so hard to keep us safe.
     

  3. For our Bishops who are struggling to meet our spiritual and sacramental needs while exercising prudence in the face of a pandemic.
     

ACT!
 

  1. IMPORTANT! Sign this petition which will be shared with our bishops and civic leaders.
     

  2. Send emails, texts, tweets or letters to our civic leaders requesting Public Worship be included as an ESSENTIAL SERVICE as long as CDC recommendations for Social Distancing can be observed AND also requesting that the minimum assembly number be changed from an arbitrary "10" to a reasonable number based upon the physical size of a space and observance of the 6 foot buffer. 
     

  3. Link here for sample letters and tweets to use.
     

  4. Include the hashtag #RestorePublicMass and the link to this website (www.restorepublicmass.com) on all your communications. 
     

Pray even MORE!  Pray for the success of this initiative.  Spread the Word!!

HOW CAN WE SAFELY RESTORE PUBLIC MASS?
 

Case Study of a Sample Parish (normal capacity approx. 1000)

  • Establish one door for entry and a separate door for exit.
     

  • Ushers at entry door will enforce capacity limits with aide of 'clicker-counter' (and cross check with 'Mass registration' - see below)
     

  • Social Distancing Enforced: 6 feet or more per pew (3 people per pew) with 2 pew buffer (see photos below); Communion rail marked with 6 foot buffer (allowing 8 communicants at a time). Volunteers can mark the allowable seating zones with blue painters tape in one hour or less.
     

  • Total capacity = 76 units (a family is one unit as 6 ft does not apply to them) - approximately 150 people per Mass
     

  • OR, every church (and public interior space, for that matter) has a capacity number already determined by the fire department. We suggest limiting the number of people allowed in church be, say, 20% of the usual capacity. That gives clear but enforceable guidance using a number that the government has already established. 
     

  • Offer Masses adapted to the circumstances every 90 minutes (no long prayers of the faithful, long homilies, or holding hands or shaking hands during the Kiss of Peace): 7am; 8:30am; 10am; 11:30am; 1pm; 2:30pm; 4pm; 5:30pm; and 7pm (9 Masses per Sunday)
     

  • Distribute Communion using tongs (as some parishes have set up prior to Mass for attendees to add hosts to the ciborium). This way the priest never has to touch the Communion recipient. 
     

  • Consider designating certain Masses to be exclusively for people 65 years and older, and certain Masses exclusively for Families. 
     

  • Team of Volunteers to sanitize pews and doors thoroughly in the 30 minute interval between Masses
     

  • Register for a Mass time through an App like SignUpGenius, or by telephone (assign a volunteer to manage this)

Result: Total Capacity for public Mass = 76 seats per Mass x 9 Masses = 684 seats per Sunday are able to attend Mass while remaining in compliance with the Social Distancing recommendations, similar to other establishments like Safeway, Starbucks, Home Depot, and Marijuana Dispensaries.

For related reading, go here.

For questions and/or comments, please email us.